Virtua Tennis 3 PlayStation 3
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Virtua Tennis 3 Product Details
Released on 23/03/2007
The Virtua Tennis series serves up an ace with enhanced photorealistic graphics and advanced player animations that perfectly match the behaviour and mannerisms of some of the greatest professional tennis players to date. Next-generation systems allow gamers to see the most detailed expressions on the faces of their selected players as they battle to win heated tournaments around the world.
Now you can take on the world's greatest tennis stars on any court surface worldwide with newly added players and improvements to the game's AI. Virtua Tennis 3 has upped the challenge to become the top seed of the tennis game world. In Career Mode, gamers will travel the world and take on the biggest stars in tennis. On top of this, you'll be able to create your own star right down to the finest detail with the improved Player Creation Mode.
Plus, no Virtua Tennis title would be complete without the popular and addictive mini-games, and Virtua Tennis 3 is no exception. In addition to the popular mini-games from previous titles used to sharpen players' skills, there will be a whole host of brand new games to keep players in top form.
- The world's best-selling and universally loved tennis series comes to next-generation consoles!
- Photorealistic graphics bring tennis home like never before.
- All the game modes you expect from the world's leading tennis sim.
- Create a legend! Extensive player manipulation is now possible with the power of new console hardware, allowing you to create your own player to the finest detail.
- The original career mode has been completely revised for the next generation, featuring new training games, instinctive navigation and map, fully customisable characters and more.
- Play on any court surface worldwide against a host of the world's leading players.
2001 was a memorable year for British sport. Man Utd won the Premiership, Liverpool nabbed almost every cup going, and David Beckham’s last-minute free kick against Greece dragged England heroically into the 2002 World Cup. Over at SW19, meanwhile, Tim Henman had his bestest-chance-ever of winning Wimbledon, coming within a rain delay of reaching the final. Gamers too benefited from a bumper sporting feast, with Pro Evolution Soccer and Virtua Tennis 2 hitting PS2 and Dreamcast respectively.
Since then, PES has gone on to be an industry leading brand, but Virtua Tennis has been oddly abesent on home systems. Indeed, 2005’s PSP World Tour has been the only original VT title on any platform in almost six years.
Cue Virtua Tennis 3. It’s been some wait, but Sega have finally delivered a standard-setting sports sim that firmly places the series back atop the gaming leaderboards.
The to-and-fro of real-life tennis
‘Sim’ being the key word. VT3 comes closer than ever to recreating the to-and-fro of real-life tennis, and as a result might seem initially a little unforgiving to VT novices. However, the three button control system – dictating top spin, slice and lob shots – retains the simple arcade playability, and after a few games players will be enjoying epic twenty-stroke rallies.
It’s thankful then that VT3 boasts such a subtle-but-startling degree of depth. Anticipation is key, even more so than shot selection, and the silky smooth animation will see keen-eyed players observing opponent’s body language, pre-empting shots, and taking up advantageous positions to fire back thumping groundstroke winners, deft drop shots and outrageous lobs – all played at a speed dwarfing an Andy Roddick first serve.
You’ll need every trick, dive and full-power serve in your arsenal to get anywhere near the ruthless computer A.I.
That’s helped by a fantastic roster to choose from, including 20 – 13 male, 7 female – of the world’s top pro players, all with extraordinarily balanced set of abilities.
Brilliantly, Tennis fans will notice that playing as their chosen character would in real life gets the greatest rewards here; so serve-volleying with claycourt specialists Nadal or Nalbandian might see you get slaughtered, but pinging opponents from side to side with tenacious baseliner Hewitt, serve-volleying with Henman, or mixing it up as all-around expert Federer, are likely to garner success. This is especially true at the higher difficulties, where you’ll need every trick, dive and full-power serve in your arsenal to get anywhere near the ruthless computer A.I.
While Exhibition and Tournament modes may be your first stop, the World Tour mode presents Virtua Tennis 3’s main singleplayer challenge. Enlisting in either the men’s or women’s tour, you’ll create your character and start out on your twenty year career to become world number one by taking part in full-on tournaments, as well as building your player’s stats in some frankly barmy minigames.
Alligators, fruit and giant tennis balls
For many, these minigames will be the highlight of the entire title. From tennis variants on Space Invaders and Bingo, to ones involving alligators, fruit and giant tennis balls, they add a lighthearted side to the otherwise hardcore tennis action, and can even be played in multiplayer from the main menu.
Multiplayer itself is where the true longevity lies – and also throws up the biggest differences between the two console iterations. While the PS3’s same-screen multiplayer is as fun as any VT before it, the Xbox 360’s exclusive online mode is an unbelievably robust offering encompassing ranked and unranked matches across singles, doubles and mixed doubles against real-life opponents; with the task of climbing the Worldwide Leaderboards in particular incredibly addictive.
Arguably the best sports game ever made, one of the finest online games going, and amongst the most entertaining releases of recent years.
The gameplay itself holds up remarkably well online too, and lag is handled about as tastefully as possible; the ball stalling in mid air to allow you to see your opponent’s movement before flying back at you; and points being replayed entirely when lag interferes a little too much. Sadly, the PS3 lacks online play - it's own unique inclusion, tilt sensitive control, proving less intuitive than hoped - meaning PS3 gamers will want to stick to the standard control setup. It’s difficult not to recommend the Xbox 360 version more highly, then; though Sony owners will still have the addicting World Tour, Tournament, and offline multiplayer to enjoy.
Of course, Virtua Tennis 3 looks phenomenal in high definition, with every player (bar Sharapova) looking uncannily lifelike, and courts modelled to really give that big arena atmosphere. Sadly there are a few niggles in presentation; replays often take on unhelpful camera angles, the World Tour player creation tool is rather limited, and the pop-rock elevator music soundtrack painful to the ears after only a short while. But that’s a bit like picking fault in Roger Federer’s record-breaking career… for not winning the Nottingham Open.
Arguably the best sports game ever made
Ultimately, Virtua tennis 3 is arguably the best sports game ever made, one of the finest online games going, and amongst the most entertaining releases of recent years. In the end, it’s difficult not to love a game which lets you turn back time and put things right on that hallowed Centre Court turf. So we’ll start this review where we began, and get back to our own chip-charge masterclass…
- Plays every bit as good as it looks
- Wonderfully playable and utterly bonkers minigames
- Phenomenal offline and online multiplayer on 360
- Replays and music leave a bit to be desired
- Player Creation in World Tour Mode is limited
- Wayward tilt-sensitive control and no online play on PS3
Review by: Mark Scott
Review Published: 29.03.07
Game, Set and Match: Sega?
Last week we had those nice people from Sega swing by GAME HQ, packing some serious gaming heat in the form of a Test PlayStation 3 and pre-production copies of some of their big-name 2007 titles. Top of the pile was Virtua Tennis 3; the follow-up to the critically acclaimed Dreamcast and PS2 classic Virtua Tennis 2, which plenty of people still think of as the greatest tennis sim going.
Now, despite this being on PS3, we were assured the differences to the Xbox 360 version were negligible. For one thing, the tilt control function of the PS3's Sixaxis pad wasn't active in this build, so instead of twisting and dipping the controller to guide players around the court, as will be the case in the final PS3 version, it was down to good old analogue sticks - just as it will be on Microsoft's next-gen machine.
Even Tim Henman's in here, so you can see him fail gloriously at Wimbledon in digital form too.
And if it looks this good on 360 (there really is no reason it shouldn't) then it truly will be something a bit special. Even in static screenshots it's a stunning looking game; player models are incredibly detailed down to every last strand of hair, with a distinctive hi-defintion sheen. Stadiums are equally impressive, and though the crowd still appears to be 2D, it's far less noticeable than before, creating an on-court spectator sport atmosphere in a way that Rockstar's Table Tennis never quite managed.
But still images pale in comparison to seeing Virtua Tennis 3 in full swing. Animation is a of a universally high standard; clothes ripple to match movements, the net shakes and shudders each time the ball clips it, and players themselves sprint, sidestep, smash, lunge and even dive headlong with energy and athleticism, enhancing the already ESPN-like presentation.
Indeed, were it not for the on-screen HUD, detailing player names, serve speed and such, you could quite easily be fooled into thinking this was a television presentation - something which the replays have a habit of doing. That's been said before about sports games of course, but never has it been more apt.
Despite the undeniable realism, however, Virtua Tennis 3 has also not lost its arcade roots. A colourful trail accompanies the ball everywhere it goes, and the energy bar-based service meter is as accessible as it ever was - one press still starts it rising, the second press stopping it, with a top speed serve requiring the bar be stopped at it's apex. Simple in principle, it's tricky to master, so you can't merely call upon an ace at will, in much the same way as in real-life tennis.
And that's an underlying factor in Virtua Tennis's general gameplay. While proving instantly pick-up-and-play, and certainly faster than it's nearest rival, Top Spin 2, it still boasts enough depth to have players dedicating hours towards learning each and every subtle nuance. With standard, lob, slice and top spin shots, there's no shortage of ways to ping your opponent about the court, and with a varied roster of baseline, serve-volley and all-around players from across the globe, there's a lot here to master.
The stars are out
The list of players isn't huge, but for the first time ever in a tennis game the world's biggest tennis stars are all together under one banner. On the women's side, that means the likes of current Wimbledon champ Amelie Mauresmo, former grasscourt queen Maria Sharapova, plus ex world number ones Lyndsay Davenport, Martina Hingis and Venus Williams.
However, it's the men's roster which most impresses, including Croatian sensation Mario Ancic, Americans James Blake, Taylor Dent and the big-serving Andy Roddick, Spaniards Juan Carlos Ferrero and current world number two Rafael Nadal, Aussie firebrand Lleyton Hewiit, and the planet's imperious number one player, Roger Federer. Even Tim Henman's in here, so you can see him fail gloriously at Wimbledon in digital form too.
Where Virtua Tennis 3 seems truly peerless is in how it's able to effortlessly capture each player's real-life strengths, weaknesses, preferences and playing styles, and encourage the player to approach the game as their chosen favourite would in real life.
Playing from the back court with Henman, for instance, is just asking for trouble, but your serving and chip-charge game will have to be nigh-on perfect for his preferred netplay to be of any effect. Likewise, taking a power approach with Hewitt from the middle of the court isn't advisable; he's a baseliner, and he's never better than when he's opening up the angles and running his opponent ragged from left to right with flat, hard backcourt strokes.
That's a tactic the left-handed Nadal also favours to great success in real life, albeit with ludicrous amounts of spin; and he's possibly the one player for whom, in Virtua Tennis 3, the top spin shot will prove most effective. Federer, meanwhile, is masterful in every position, so you'll have to concentrate hard to get anywhere near him.
Could well end up amongst the best sports games of 2007 - if not THE best.
These playing approaches appear to ape real life in way that's frankly a little bit eerie. Such is the speed of play and quality of animation that you'll often feel like you're right in the middle of a heated rivalry of the kind common in the game at the moment. Playing a multiplayer singles match as relative novices, there were more than a few times we saw Hewitt controlling a rally against Federer, only to hit a slightly short ball and have the Swiss pounce upon it - whipping a vicious on-the-run crosscourt topspin winner past the Aussie in a way ominously reminiscent of the pair's past few Grand Slam meetings.
That alone was more than enough to convince us of Virtua Tennis 3's credentials. It's that rare type of sports game that's both arcadey and realistic; immediately enjoyable while decidedly deep. We had a few gripes with the soundtrack - 'elevator music' would be an apt description - and some of the grasscourt textures looked a little more like fluffy carpet, but we could overlook that given how downright enjoyable the game proved.
There's also aspects we didn't get to see, from the returning Career Mode with its famed Create-a-Player feature, to promised online play and the social brilliance of multiplayer doubles matches. Virtua Tennis 3 is a game we can't wait to play more of - in fact, if the finished product matches this quality, we think it could well end up amongst the best sports games of 2007 - if not THE best. March can't come soon enough.
Virtua Tennis 3 Review (29/03/2007)
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