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Frustrating isn’t it? Seeing our “fantastic” sport stars losing time and time again, when we know we are capable of winning. Euro 96 is a prime example. We should have kicked their bloody ars… (Ed: please hold while I restrain him!) Sorry about that…It really does get me worked up. That’s why I love playing games. You can turn reality into fiction! And that is exactly why Virtua Tennis is such a dam good game. You can make Tim Henman win something! Sega have turned up the style this time…you can almost taste the strawberries and cream at Wimbledon!
When you first play this game the sheer beauty of the graphics and the motion of the players will overwhelm you. Sega have brought in real professionals to capture the motion. The way they move about the court with the hope of smashing that all-important ball is pure class. The graphics are bold and bright, with several easily recognisable courts (although they are not allowed to use the real names) It’s the little details like the way shadows pass across the outside courts showing that a cloud has passed over the sun that make this a joy to watch.
next thing to strike you down with joy is how incredibly easy this game is
to pick up. Its simple, “A” button hits the ball while the “B” or
“X” button lobs. That’s it, that’s all there is to it! In actual
fact, to prove the control system myself, I invited the local idiot of my
small group of friends (yes I do have them) to come and try himself. In
just 2 minutes he was hitting the ball and winning a few games! Eventually
you will be learning that pulling back on the control stick will do a drop
shot and eventually you will be having a great game of tennis against the
There are two main modes in the game. You have arcade mode…strangely enough it’s identical to the arcade! Then there is the world circuit mode, which is a new feature added from the arcade version. It works in much the same way as Soul Calibur’s World Map mode. You choose a player (selection of 8 at the beginning but 8 more to find!) and you’re on your way to victory. You start off with a rank of 300th, which doesn’t look to good, but then you climb the ladder by winning matches. Also you can go into double matches by signing contracts with other players, the best costing the most. Then there are the training games, which are altogether a different game!
put that these training modes work almost identically to Crazy Taxi’s
training modes…and that is that they are pure fun and frustrating, but a
loving frustrating that makes you go, "dam, I nearly did that, just
one more go” Tell your girlfriend to find another partner, because she
won't be seeing you for a very long time! Some of the games are just
brilliant. There’s a bowling game (again like crazy taxi) where you have
to knock over all the pins with a serve. Also there’s a game where you
have to bash back huge rolling balls, not to mention about another 6 of
these wonderfully crafted games. But they are there to help you, and you
will find yourself practising new shots that you never thought of before.
The two player is a riot, more still is the four-player mode. Get your friends into pairs and I can guarantee that you or your opponent will be screaming at the Dreamcast that the ball was ‘in’, only to be humiliated with the replay that shows he was wrong! However, make sure your opponents are experienced like you, because you will slaughter them! But the game is so simple to pick up and play that really there shouldn’t be a problem.
The few problems I had with this game was the sound. Awful! The music is so bad that a tramp running at you brandishing a used syringe seems enticing! It’s sort of rock 80’s that is just diabolical for a tennis game. The sound of the ball smashing is quite nice however, and the announcer speaks in different languages depending where you play. Then there is the world map mode itself. Its good, but I would have liked to have entered tournaments and play a full championship in each one. Instead you get one game in the tournament and then have to move on to a different one altogether until you’re good enough to go up a level. It’s a shame that this feature wasn’t added. Finally, the game is far too short lived. You will always be coming back for more, but you will complete this game in a week.
“ Sega have finally done justice to a Tennis game. Anyone can play this and everyone will like this. Simply ACE!”
Sega have managed to take
the very things that make a game good, combined them with an arcade
classic, and have really come up with possibly the most stunning sports
title available for the Dreamcast.
The main menu has what
you would expect from such a game. Arcade Mode, Exhibition, World Tour
Mode and then the Options menu.
Arcade mode is what you'd expect, the bog standard arcade game. In Exhibition you get to select the various aspects of a single match, length of match, AI ability, deuce on/off, however Sega seem to have forgotten to make a full length tennis match option which is a shame, the longest you can have is 1 full set which goes right up to tie break, but the problem is overcome by just playing several separate games with the same settings.
World Tour Mode is I think fantastic as this is the main part Sega have added to give it the longevity arcade games cannot have, and it is fun touring the world trying to earn enough money for that new stadium or player, which you can open by playing in competitions and training which earns you money, and puts you up in the world ranking,
Options menu is basically
what you'd expect, changing audio levels, and messing about with game
settings to make Arcade mode hard or easy or what ever you want in
It has Simple controls
that even a monkey could use, 2 buttons and the direction pad, although
you can make an amazing number of different shots even from these simple
controls with a twitch on the analogue stick while you are pressing the
hit or lob button. Making the game feel as deep as it is simple.
Then there's the
graphics. Just take a look at the meaty TV style screen shots. I
don’t need to say anymore, the screens say it all! Although the eyes
could have done with a little more work, the motion captured played move
like a dream and VT boasts some of the most impressive animation on any
game, these tennis players don't "slide" across the court like
in most games.
And finally what I think
is one of the key factors to the playability of a game, the Music, VT
contains some catchy Sound Tracks, with the only problem being that if a
match lasts more than 5 minutes, it becomes very repetitive as most of the
music is about 2 minutes long but loops to give it the continuity.
9/10 - If you ignore this title, there is something seriously wrong with you!
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