Virtua Tennis: World Tour PSP
Published by SEGA
Developed by Sumo Digital
Release Date: Out Now
Virtua Tennis: World Tour, an introduction.
Virtua Tennis needs no introduction as it's probably the most famous and highly regarded tennis game of all time. The original game came to prominence on the SEGA Dreamcast and impressed virtually everyone who played the game with its simple, yet realistic, controls and challenging AI. The sequel managed to improve upon the formula and is arguably the best tennis game of all time. With the Sony PSP just launched here in the UK we were eager to play some of the games the console has to offer and in the shape of Virtua Tennis: World Tour we have one of the best titles to be released on the console's launch day.
What's the game about?
You would be forgiven for thinking this might be a cut down version of Virtua Tennis 2 but in actual fact there's been nothing taken out and the included pro tennis player rosters have been updated. In addition some new mini-games have been added. The modes on offer are Quick Match, Tournament, Exhibition, World Tour, Ball Games and Multiplayer Match. The game includes 14 pro tennis players including Tim Henman, Roger Federer, Maria Sharapova and Venus Williams. There are five fictional courts on offer that provide the whole range of surfaces (clay, hard, grass and carpet) to play on.
What's good about the game?
Everything that made Virtua Tennis and its sequel so impressive has been retained for this PSP version. The delightful game play, that's a cinch to pick up and tricky to master, remains. The control scheme suits the PSP perfectly and caused us no problems at all. As in other versions of the game, the World Tour mode is where you'll spend most of your time as you bid to become world champion with both your custom male and female players. To begin with your characters are very poor but by playing those addictive mini-games you'll build up their attributes and have them winning matches quite quickly (winning tournaments on the other hand will take time). There's single and doubles matches to undertake and plenty of items to collect such as clothing and rackets to customise your players as the game progresses.
What's not so good about the game?
Virtua Tennis: World Tour is very impressive but it's not without some rough edges. Load times are rather tedious and a little off-putting at times. Rather more irritating though is the pauses that occur almost every time a point is won during a game. The game will pause for around half a second until the score is displayed onscreen. The problem seems to be that the UMD is accessed for the umpire voice and it takes longer than it should to do, hence the pause. Unfortunately you can't turn off the umpire voice otherwise the problem would be solvable. Load times are one thing but something that breaks the flow of a game is something that should have been sorted out before the game was finished. It's also a shame you can't play the multiplayer game over the Internet. You'll need at least one PSP owning friend who owns a copy of the game in order to enjoy the excellent multiplayer game (up to four players are supported) and unfortunately this means that most gamers won't experience how good this mode can be.
How does it look?
Virtua Tennis: World Tour looks probably as good as it could look on the PSP and is easily the equal of the Dreamcast and PlayStation 2 versions of the game. The player models and the stadia all look as good as the PlayStation 2 versions of the game and the frame rate remains very smooth indeed. As we mentioned earlier load times are annoying but they are not overly so.
How deaf gamer friendly is the game?
Virtua Tennis: World Tour is about as deaf gamer friendly as other sports games. The umpire's comments are not subtitled but the scores and fault's are all shown in text in the centre of the screen. All other information is shown in text so there aren't any real problems here. The game manual covers all the important information including the controls, game modes etc. and goes into detail on the new mini-games.
Sumo Digital really have done a fine job with Virtua Tennis: World Tour and fans of the Virtua Tennis series will love how good this PSP version plays. The game isn't perfect though and load times combined with no Internet play and pausing whilst you wait for the umpire to announce the score are issues that all count against the game and prevent it from earning a higher rating. Still, these niggles aside, it's a great game and it will surely be one of the most sought after PSP launch titles.
Overall Game Rating: 8.8/10
Deaf Gamers Classification:
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Sumo Digital have done a great job in bringing the Virtua Tennis experience to the Sony PSP. For the most part the game is excellent but there are a few rough edges that manage to take some of the shine off the product.