Virtua Tennis 3 PS3 Review

The biggest draw to Virtua Tennis is the career mode. Why do I say this? Well it’s because it’s more in-depth than previous titles, but at the same time offers up simplistic gameplay mechanics. Once you are ready to embark on a journey, you will have to create your very own character which can be male or female. Once your player is dressed in the finest clothes available, you must pick out your home location to dwell when you are not on tour. Your primary goal within this mode is to go from an unknown tennis player to the top of the food chain. Just like any sport or profession, it takes hard work and dedication to reach the top. That’s why you must put your created player through various obstacles and learning programs within the tennis school. This mode is a good way to hone the basics and to raise the levels of your player.

Once you’ve got the basics packed down, you can participate in various singles and doubles tournaments which are open to newcomers. The beauty about these tournaments is that they take place in various countries around the world like Spain, China, USA, Australia, and even Italy. You will also participate in day and night games, indoor and outdoor games, which will have you playing on clay, grass or hard courts. Since there are only a certain number of tennis players within the game, you will find yourself playing the same players over and over, which can be tiring at times and take away from the lustre of playing against some of the best players in the world in the ladder part of the tennis matches.

While training, and even during tournaments, you will notice a bar being depleted. That’s your stamina bar, which is a vital part to your success and how quick it happens within the game. The lower your stamina bar goes the greater likelihood that your character can become injured, which can set you back a few weeks. There are various options to avoid this happening, which include taking a week off at home, going on a three-week vacation, or even drinking an energy drink. While it is a good method, the energy drink will actually harm you more than help. What would be really cool would be injuries during a tennis match, but unfortunately, Sega and Sega-AM2 decided that wouldn’t be in the best interest of the game. Your injuries will take place off the court, most of the time while you are at the main menu. The game will tell you if you are injured, how long you are out, which in the game, flies by like nothing at all. To me, the biggest drawback would have to be the lack of a buying system within the game. Some gamers may argue that it’s better to earn your gear, but I find it pretty fun blowing thousands of dollars on wristbands, shoes, clothing, etc. Oh well, it’s all about refining the gameplay.

Within Virtua Tennis 3, you have two different control methods to use. Gamers can opt for the traditional route, which utilizes the D-pad and/or the analog stick, or they can shoot for the SIXAXIS method. Using SIXAXIS gamers will be able to move their controller to the left or to the right to move their players. This method makes the action a little more interesting, but sadly to say more difficult to work alongside the action buttons. While the controls are very simple, there’s a wide variety of different moves that can be performed. Players can hit a slice, a volley, a lob, or even dive for the ball all with precision timing and profound fluidity.

How you control your player is dependent on many different aspects. The gameplay changes a lot from a clay court to a grass court. You also have to worry about the game that each opposing tennis player brings to the court. Some are all about power, while others will try to trick you by sticking to baseline or trading off forehand shots with you.

Virtua Tennis 3 is by far one of the best looking PS3 titles to come about within the first year of the console’s release. Pretty much everything within the game is highly detailed. Each player model utilizes high levels of polygon counts allowing for near-perfect computer generated replicas of real-life tennis players. Utilising the underlying secrets of the cell processor, Sega-AM2 creates a unique atmosphere for each and every player within the game, which allows for a high level of diversity between them and a sense of realism.

If you take time to pry your eyes away from the intense action on the court, you will notice that the backdrops, the crowds – heck, even the court itself is highly stylised. Unlike previous tennis titles that put the focus primarily on the court participants, high levels of detail were put into the roaring crowds of fans and supporters, adding to the realistic perspective they are giving off, but also warrants the eye to look at everything, not just the players. While all this is sweet, the camera angles hinder the overall presentation of the title. There are several instances where we are at the mercy of the camera which at times can force you to play close ball. You also have no control over the instant replay cam, so if you want to relive a certain moment of the game, make sure it’s a spectacular one.

Last, but certainly not the least, is the 1080p resolution. What can I say about the beauty and immersive environment of Virtua Tennis 3 through the use of high-definition televisions? The game without that feature is pretty sweet, but playing this on a fifty inch plasma makes you want to shed a tear.

After playing Virtua Tennis for years, you come to be accustomed to Sega’s use of cheesy guitar music as the momentum pumper for the various matches and menu options. Seeing how now-a-days I don’t listen to much rock, after awhile it becomes more of a headache than an enjoyment piece. But those who enjoy rock music will be fully submerged into the high octane-driven music that keeps the action interesting and intense. In regards to sound effects, every thing is pretty much on target. When listening to the game play, you actually feel like you are truly watching a tennis match. The only gripe with the sound effects would be the grunts and yelling from some of the tennis players. At times it’s misplaced, and at others it’s just very obnoxious.

There are several different options to choose from to occupy your time. For those who are serious about becoming the best tennis player possible, they will opt for the career mode. For those who are just looking to have some fun, they can take part within the various mini-games which are all about having some fun. For myself, I felt happy spending a lot of time in tennis school. It wasn’t because I was a rookie to the series; it was because I wanted to learn all that I could about how to play the game and to come out on top a winner.

The mini-games are broken down into four categories: ground stroke, serve, volley, and footwork. Of these games is ‘Avalanche’, which has you collecting various pieces of fruit while dodging giant-size tennis balls rolling at you from a dump truck. Another mini-game is ‘Prize Defender’ where you protecting a table full of prizes by volleying tennis ball shots from a ball machine. Just like anything, everything starts out nice and easy, but as your progress through the game, they become more difficult to master.

Sadly, Sega opted not to include online gameplay within the Playstation 3 build – a complete surprise to me. For those gamers who own both the PS3 and the Xbox 360, they are better off with the 360 build primarily because of the online structure and various modes. Besides that, these two titles are pretty much identical in every way.

Tennis has arrived on next generation consoles, and it’s fully loaded. In comparison to its predecessor, there are only a few tweaks here and there to the overall gameplay mechanics, but that doesn’t stop this title from being a fresh face for gamers abroad. Those who are interested in some “pick up and play” action have definitely come to the right place.

The lack of online gameplay only takes away from a near perfect masterpiece from the creative minds over at Sega.

9 out of 10
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