Review by blueninja4444

Reviewed: 03/19/08

From Tennis Zero to Tennis Hero

Tennis! Who cares? You do! Why? Because you just found out tennis chicks like Anna Sharapova are smokin’ hot, and you’re ready to work from the ground up to hone your tennis skills, so you can become famous and compete with the big dogs some day. This is Virtua Tennis 3, an arcade, pick up and go tennis game from Sega, with an emphasis on character creation and mini-games in addition to fast paced tennis action. So how does the PSP version of Virtua Tennis 3 (also on the PS3, XBOX 260 and PC) fare? Well let’s take a look.....

Graphics: 7/10
The graphics are ok at best, but at least the animations are very smooth. Truly impressive in this game are the various arenas/ courts where you can play the matches. It seems like the creators of this game put more effort in the background than the actual characters. There’s many different places to play tennis, most of which I think are fictional, including a court on a cruise ship, a court beachside at night, and courts all over the country including your favorite tennis players’ home country from New York to Russia. There’s so lag and screwy mechanics in the ad-hoc mode, but it’s a pretty solid presentation over all.

Sound: 7/10
What can you say? The sound effects are nice, but sadly there are no voiceovers. Period.
No commentary. Even the story mode cut scenes are told through about 5 words of text. You get generic music and generic grunts, which means that sound is optional, which is good for a portable game. Sometimes you just can’t play in an environment where sound is an option, such as a noisy bus, and this game is optimal for that sort of situation.

Controls: 10/10
Controls are simple, easy to learn, and customizable! What more could you want? You can use the d-pad or the analog stick to move your character and you use the face buttons to lob, slice and spike the ball into the opposing half of the field. Sounds simple? It is!

Story: 6/10
Ok, so all that spiel at the beginning of this review about you thinking tennis chicks are hot was made up (as far as the game goes) but basically there is a story mode and it revolves around you creating a custom characters, presumably based on your own real life self, and taking him from tennis chump to tennis champ in a world tour mixed with tons of mini-games and tournaments. All mini-games completed successfully get certain stats of your character up, like a tennis RPG of sorts, and completing tournaments unlocks you all sorts of new outfits, sneakers and rackets great for customizing your character and making him or her personalized.

Overall nothing soap opera like happens in the story, and the cut scenes aren’t exactly heart wrenching speeches and explosions but it is one of the main features of the game and definitely worth the play.

Gameplay: 9/10
Ahh the meat and potatoes of any video game! The gameplay! In Virtua Tennis 3 the game play is fun, addicting, and simple. This is not a realistic tennis sim, it is an action packed gimmicky arcade-styled complete with both singles matches and doubles (2 players against 2 player, think tag team tennis). All sorts of things can be tweaked before a game like weather you want 1 match games or best two out of three, or if you want this game to take place in Japan or Czech-Republic. The game is full of mini games, all of which are fun, and involve far out stuff you wouldn’t expect from a tennis game such as escaping an avalanche of giant tennis balls, or killing “Space Invaders” with your volleying. Multiplayer is fun, and can be accessed via Ad-Hoc, if you got a buddy with this game. Unfortunately the mini-games are not multiplayer but you can play 1 on 1 and 2 on 2 tennis. You can even team up, co-op, in the 2 on 2 tennis to see how both of you can fare against the CPU in intense tennis match up, or you can go head to head and see whose got the will to win.

Longevity/ Replay Value: 6/10
If you’re a big fan of character creation and leveling up you’re already on track for a few quality hours of gaming from this title. Playing through World Tour to get new outfits and better stats is really half the fun, and the mini-games add spice and variety to an other-wise repetitive game. And if you got a buddy who you can talk into getting this game then more power to ya! Some obvious features that would’ve made this game have more replay value are unlockable short videos of the real tennis stars, or perhaps commentary, or maybe two player mini games. Maybe even a tutorial mode? If you don’t know tennis, the story mode objectives like “Hit 3 Drop Balls” can be a bit confusing. “WTF is a drop ball?”. But hey, you can almost certainly squeeze a few hours out of this game. It’s fun.

Overall: 7
If you’re interested in taking your own custom tennis player and building him from the ground up from tennis zero to tennis hero, then this game is for you. If you love tennis and play every day and want a realistic tennis game, better look else where. A lack of replayability hurts the overall score a lot, since small additions like real-life players’ highlight reels or a better sense of story in the world tour mode would be welcomed. But the game delivers what it promises: A fun tennis game that you can take on the road any where with you and enjoy any where you want. The matches are short and sweet and could be enjoyed on any lunch break. The game may be far from perfect, but it’s also far from boring. Great work Sega! A solid 7 out of 10.

Rating:   3.5 - Good

Product Release: Virtua Tennis 3 (US, 03/26/07)

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