Virtua Tennis 4 World Tour Edition PS Vita Review

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During a release of a new handheld system, the launch titles always seem to include some sort of port of a console sport title. The trend continues on the brand new PlayStation Vita, which is selling itself as a portable device that offers a home console experience on the go. What better way to sell you this idea than actually showing games that were on home consoles now running in the palm of your hand? Sega’s Virtua Tennis 4: World Tour Edition is proof that the system can handle replicating what you normally would play on your TV, and it opens up a new list of possibilities that could happen between your handheld and console gaming experiences.

darkzero has already reviewed the Xbox 360 version of Virtua Tennis 4 last year, giving it a great 8/10. This review isn’t going to cover all of the aspects of the game, as it plays just like PS3/Xbox 360 version; instead, it will focus on the new additions to the Vita version as that’s no doubt the reason you are reading this review.

World Tour is still the main mode, with very little changing in its transition to handheld. Only one additional thing has been added – the ability to connect online while playing. What this means is that anyone else playing world tour will have their characters downloaded into your game (and yours into theirs) and a marker will appear on your world map allowing you to play a match against them. The computer will take over that character, so you aren’t actually playing someone online, but it’s a nice change to see another player’s peculiar character design rather than the same tennis stars again and again.

Both the Vita’s front and back touch inputs are optional in this game.  They’re fine for menus, but, in regards to using them during gameplay, I found them a little awkward to get used to. I never felt I had total control of what I wanted to do. For instance, touching a point on the court in a match will make your player move to that location. If you are close enough to return the ball, moving your finger up on the screen will send the ball back. How you “flick” will determine where the ball will be returned and the type of shot you perform. Flicking down will do a slice shot, while flicking down, then sliding up on the screen will do a lob shot. While definitely an adventageous use of the Vita’s touchscreen, I can’t recommend that people use these controls. They make some basic shots annoyingly, imprecisely difficult and cause your reactions to be much slower.

VT Apps is a new feature on the main menu of Virtua Tennis 4 that contains all the unique Vita add-ons. VR Match is a mode that lets you play tennis from a first person perspective. You still control the same, but now you can use the gyros of the Vita to look around the court, giving you a chance to do a 360 rotation to see everything. It reminds me of the technology Nintendo demonstrated with the Wii U at least year’s E3. I found this mode disorienting, and it’s not something I went back to after playing through it a couple of times.

Touch Vs. is a two-player mode that you can play with a friend. It uses the touch screen and splits it into half, one half for each player. It’s the exact same game of tennis as before, but instead the viewpoint is from the sky showing the whole court in view. I guess this is for people who might not have a friend with a Vita or the game. It’s a laugh, but it’s no substitute for the real Virtua Tennis 4 gameplay.

VT cam and Rock the Boat are the last two. VT cam allows you to place models of famous tennis players into the real world by using the Vita’s camera functions. You can make up some silly pictures by placing them in stupid positions; it’s a gimmicky thing that will give you some cheap giggles, but that’s all. Rock the Boat is a mini game that pits your tennis star against a boat. You have to aim your shots at the targets attached to the boat, but there’s a little twist – you can tilt the boat by using the Vita’s gyros, allowing you to hit those harder to reach targets on the ship. Again, just like the rest of these new additions, rock the boat is fun for a few turns, and then you’ll just want to go back to playing the real game.

Multiplayer can either be done locally through ad-hoc, or online with other players around the world. Online gives you the option of a ranked match or a player match. While waiting for a ranked match, the game throws you into arcade mode against the computer until someone comes in and challenges you. It’s a neat implementation that allows you to play while waiting a couple of minutes for people to join a match. Playing against someone in the same continent was fine, but I had a high chance of meeting gamers from Japan (I’ll take a guess and say that’s down to the game not being out during this review) and there was lag, as expected. Still, it is playable, but you have to predict what you are going to do by pressing the hit buttons earlier than you would generally have to.

The Vita’s gorgeous OLED screen really shows off the game’s visuals. Due to the smaller screen and lower resolution, it makes the game just look like its big brother. It runs flawlessly, with gameplay running at 60FPS and cutscenes at 30FPS. The resolution of the game is also native (960×544), unlike some other Vita titles (here’s looking at you, Uncharted: Golden Abyss); this means you see an incredibly sharp picture oozing with colour.

Virtua Tennis 4 World Tour Edition may be a port, and it’s only additions may be a few fun, time wasting mini-games, but it shows that the Vita can handle console games without downgrading any feature to fit on a portable device. I hope companies look at this in the future and allow us to“transfer” ideas between Vitas and PS3 versions of the same game. Virtua Tennis 4 itself doesn’t allow you to transfer saves between the two versions, but if you’d like a game of tennis on the go, this really is the best tennis series on the market. It’s arcade gameplay is a perfect fit for your Vita (that’s Latin for life). See what I did there?

8/10

by

Version tested: PS Vita

Developer: Sega-AM3

Publisher: Sega

Genre: Sport