Virtua Tennis 2
With all the Virtua Tennis imitations that there are flying around on the PlayStation 2 it only made sense that the real thing should arrive. In the last four months we must have reviewed around 5 tennis games that where all trying really hard to be Virtua Tennis. Is this going to make it difficult for Virtua Tennis 2 to stand out though? Well some of the games that have come out have actually been very good efforts and have helped fill the void by the lack of a Virtua Tennis game. However, after playing Virtua Tennis 2 for a while it soon becomes obvious that it's still the best tennis game around, regardless which platform it's on.
If you've played Virtua Tennis 2 on the Dreamcast you'll know exactly what to expect here as it's more or less a direct port. This is no bad thing though as the game on the Dreamcast was pretty much perfect. The game offers an Exhibition mode, Tournament mode and World Tour. As per usual the Exhibition mode is for one off matches with one or more players and Tournament mode is the same except that you can arrange a tournament instead of a single match. Without a shadow of a doubt the games main focal point is the World Tour.
The World Tour sees you creating a male and female player, participating in a wide range of mini-games to build up their skills and making a bid to become the worlds number 1. You begin the World Tour mode ranked at 300 so it's a really big effort to make it to number 1. The game is played out so as one mini-game will take up one week of time. Each month has four weeks and at the beginning of each month you'll be told of the events for that month. You also have to consider resting your players from time to time to build up their stamina. The mini-games are all fun and simple to play (although difficult to master). They range from knocking over bowling pins to lobbing the oncoming balls back onto a target. All of the games will improve your attributes and eventually improve your players enough to get them into the tournaments. The World Tour mode is definitely the feature which elevates Virtua Tennis 2 above the competition.
The only disappointment with Virtua Tennis 2, for me, was that I expected to see it looking a little better than it actually does. Whilst the graphics are not anti-aliased, it still looks more or less the same as the Dreamcast version (although the poor, jagged quality of the player shadows are rather disappointing). Some of the included players don't look quite right whilst others look very good. On the whole though it still towers above the other tennis games currently on the market. Pleasingly, the whole thing remains wonderfully smooth and there is even a 60Hz option.
There is no problems at all for deaf gamers with Virtua Tennis 2. The only verbal content that is not subtitled is the game commentary but to be perfectly honest this does no harm to the game as the scores are displayed onscreen. All other details are given in text.
Well what did you expect? Virtua Tennis 2 was the best tennis game on the Dreamcast and it's now the best one on the PlayStation 2. Fast fluid gameplay that has the addictiveness of Pong and the ability to keep you playing for hours on end. The AI is spot on too. To win the World Tour you're going to have to be more or less perfect as the better players will take advantage of all your faults. The replay value of the game is incredible too and it's one of those games you'll dig the PlayStation 2 out of the attic to play in years to come.
Overall Game Rating: 9.0/10 The benchmark tennis title on any format.
Deaf Gamers comment: Game commentary is not subtitled but otherwise it's fine.