Review by PickHut

"1... 2... 3... Success!"

The first time I played Virtua Tennis 3, I wasn't that thrilled with it. I avoided the World Tour mode and went straight to an exhibition match to get a good feel of the gameplay. Well, after about three or four matches... I was bored, and I was just about to give up on the game at that point. And it's not due to it being a tennis game, where you basically hit a ball back and forth, because I enjoyed Table Tennis. It's just... you can pretty much figure out how most of your opponents play in just under a few matches. You'll get a heated match here and there, but there's almost no challenge or excitement to be had.

Though, since I actually payed for this game, I figured I might as well spend a little more time with it. So, I started World Tour mode, created my custom character with an awesome name (PickHut), and from then on, I couldn't stop playing. Now, don't start thinking that the tennis matches dramatically changed here, because they haven't... The catch here is that you have to make it from your starting 300 rank to number one in under 20 years. Fail to reach that rank before the last year, and your player retires permanently. Yeah, 20 years may sound like a long ways off, but with the way VT3 handles time, you're gonna have to make every choice count.

As you start out in World Tour mode, you're not exactly a pathetic tennis player, but you're gonna need to build up your skills to contend with the later players. You do this by partaking in the various oddball mini-games, which range anywhere from dodging giant tennis balls to matching numbers together in a court-sized version of bingo. There's also a tennis academy to practice at if you're sane. Now, here's one instance where the time thing comes into play: every time you practice, a week goes by. Also, you have a stamina bar which drains whenever you do something on the court. If you let it drain too much, you're gonna get an injury, which will force you to rest for a long period of time (like 4 weeks), missing matches in the process. So, you're gonna have to rest with options like staying at home for a week or taking a vacation that lasts for three weeks. There's also a drink option, but it's not really that great.

As you can see, you actually have to put a lot of thought into every single action you make in this mode. You can take part in a tournament, but then there's that looming feeling that you won't do good and fail, a wasted week that could have been spent practicing. However, there is the risk that you could screw up your practice session and not build up your skills as much as you've hoped. Afterwards, you're left thinking that you should have used that week to play in a tournament that would've moved you closer to the top spot. It's this type of strategy in World Tour that kept me coming back for more. Really, if it weren't for this one mode, Virtua Tennis 3 would have been a very generic title.

Reviewer's Rating:   3.5 - Good

Originally Posted: 04/23/07

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