Virtua Tennis 4 PS Vita review
Of all Vita’s launch games, none represents the console as a handheld PS3 better than this. Which is partly a good thing – it’s a fully featured version of an excellent game and looks stunning on the machine – and partly a bad thing, because there’s little here you haven’t seen before, other than some new triple-A features. That’s triple-A for ‘afterthought accelerometer additions’. Duh.
But while you’re unlikely to spend hours tilting your machine in order to line up targets on a pirate ship (don’t ask how they got such a thing into an indoor practice court), the core World Tour mode is compulsive like watching a match between Robson and Wozniacki.
In a manner familiar to anyone who played the big-brother version, you and your created player have four years to climb the rankings by winning tournaments and earning stars. The whole thing revolves around a world map, and you journey across using tickets to move from point to point – deciding which events to play, when to train, when to rest and when to thrill your (four) fans with a public appearance.
It’s a good structure that’s more compelling than just a series of menus…even if it’s really just a series of menus all dolled up. Along the way you can learn differing play styles, recruit new doubles partners, even attend fancy dress parties. Matches are fairly brief, which helps to keep things ticking along, and the range of training games by which you up your stats is the best we’ve seen in a tennis game.
The on-court play is exactly the same story: just as enjoyable, just as familiar. The face buttons execute different types of shots, with your power and accuracy depending on getting in position in time, and playing to your own style builds a meter that enables you to unleash a super shot. It works well – but then it’s worked well since the first VT game came out 13 years ago, and the strides that Grand Slam Tennis 2 has made with its control scheme (see p.101) do make this feel slightly aged.
One area where it certainly does stand up is visually, and this is among the very best-looking handheld games we’ve seen. Animations are super-slick and the player likenesses are so good that I lost many minutes just admiring Roddick’s chiselled features (which is more than can be said for my created star, who ended up looking like a hideous burns victim despite my best efforts with Vita’s camera).
It’s a simple story: if you like tennis games, buy this. It’s a brilliant, if unoriginal, on-the-go version of an already solid game. If you don’t like tennis games… well, you might enjoy this anyway, providing you’re not allergic to them like Andy Murray is to smiling.