One of the most beloved consoles for any SEGA
fan has to be the Dreamcast. On this dare I say ‘cute’ little platform, Virtua Tennis
showed once and for all that the sport of smashing a small yellow ball around was a
worthy contender for our attention and that in this virtual world, anything was possible.
Even a British tennis player could win a major tournament, how about that! Virtua Tennis 3 released on the Xbox 360 showcasing
1080p support. At the time, this was quite an achievement as Sony fanboys relished in
this resolution exclusively. However bragging rights were soon to be lost as Sumo Digital
developed Virtua Tennis 3 at 1080p on not just the PlayStation3, but also the Xbox 360
as well. Wonderful news for Xbox 360 fans especially as the game also had online multiplayer
support, something that the PlayStation3 ignored. So we move on to Virtua Tennis 2009, a less
triumphant parade into our gaming collections as now the two platforms enjoy a similar feature
list, but I fear that the Nintendo Wii version may have eeked a fair chunk of the development
time away from our HD workhorses as I will explain. Following on from the previous games in the
series, Virtua Tennis 2009 has the typical ‘World Tour’ mode. Beginning with options
of whether you want to be a male or female and then the usual adjustments to facial features,
height, weight and more. It is just a shame all the players look completely soulless with
their gorky eyes and unrealistic characteristics. Rotating the new and much fancier globe of
the earth reveals locations to compete in tournaments on grass, clay and hard court
surfaces. You start out as a weak amateur who with the help of Tim Henman, will progress
to professional status to take on the spectacular sporting specimens sitting at the top of the
worldwide rankings. For the most part the journey although quite long is far too easy.
You will be amazed how mind numbingly simple it is to return a computer opponents serve
winning the point in an instant. Competing in tournaments is only half of the story as
you will need to improve your skills and technique if you are to have a chance. Practise matches, mini games and a training
facility are also selectable and will increase your players attributes including shot strength,
accuracy and your speed around the court. You can even take part in fancy dress charitable
events, which actually achieves nothing other than realising a smile when you face a pirate.
Singles matches and doubles are both options within a tournament allowing you to select
the one you prefer or even compete in both. For doubles, you will have to be noticed by
other computer controlled players and beat them before they will agree to join you. When
playing with a partner, you are able to instruct them to stand either at the back of the court
or near to the net using the left and right bumpers. A few camera views are available,
which can be changed by hitting the ‘back’ button. Two sit very close behind you giving
you an almost birds eye view of the action although you are more likely to select the
higher up camera. At one time, Mini games were the key to advancing
in the career mode, however you are no longer encouraged to replay the same levels to increase
your statistics. Instead you complete the increasing difficulty of the levels until
you reach level 8, at which point that’s that and you are enticed to try the other
mini games available. I always found the previous Virtua Tennis a pleasant progression, however
this version is extremely vague at giving you information on your increases in skills.
The bar fills up and then resets and starts again. Although you feel your player playing
better than before over time, statistically you are left completely in the dark. Let’s not forget the good old ‘Arcade’
mode, where you will tackle many of the tennis professionals and if you are lucky, you will
face one of the unlockable players. For anyone who has played any of the Virtua
Tennis games will feel right at home. The same control system is in place for your standard
top spin shot, slice, lob, drop shot and of course serving remains identical. The very
niggly diving that really drove many of us up the wall has been removed though and in
place, an even more slightly weird lunge appears, which is just as troublesome as the dive.
Puzzling that although certainly looks less odd… Unlike Top Spin 3, playing close to the net
is recommended if you think you can nail the forthcoming weak return. Whether you like
to stand at the baseline or you enjoy glaring with your ugly mush over the net, you can
move around the court quite happily. Timing is the most important aspect of Virtua Tennis
2009. If you press too early, you will lunge making it very hard to get back in control
of the rally. Press too late and your return will be quite weak, however if you get it
spot on get ready to pump your fist up into the air with glee as your opponent fails miserably. The overall gameplay has been slightly tweaked
and is a little more robust as a result and certainly shots are a little more gratifying,
but something is seriously missing as your senses often feel underwhelmed. The crowd
sounds have always been quite repetitive in the past and now they lack any 5.1 surround
immersion. What was always quite lack lustre has become pretty bad now as the atmosphere
does absolutely nothing to ignite your passion for the sport. The umpires used to speak the
language of the location the tournament was taking place in, however now we have the less
than pleasing option of choosing a male or female voice and that’s as far as it goes.
To make matters worse, the delay on some of the shot sounds is almost unbearable. You
will be quite happily enjoying a rally and then all of a sudden out of nowhere, the sound
starts to lag behind the actual shot spoiling the experience. What on earth is going on?
Fingers crossed though a patch will be released to fix this issue so I won’t dwell. The token professional names are of course
not forgotten as Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Venus Williams, Maria Sharapova and even Andy
Murray appear. Legends including Boris Becker are also selectable. If you need a well earned break from the career
mode, you can always hop online with either a professional player or take your customised
player into a ranked match to really strut your stuff. Just like before, the ‘let’
system will save you from most lag moments that would otherwise unfairly affect your
scoring potential and doubles play will allow you and a friend to compete together whether
they are sat next to you or in another city. What is a great addition is the inclusion
of the mini games online. With up to four players, you can compete for the best scores,
so certainly a welcome feature to mix it up a bit. Sadly, although it has its niggles, Virtua
Tennis 2009 is currently the best tennis game on the Xbox 360. That should be a reassuring
comment, but it only actually proves that we have quite a way to go to reach the rich
rewards we all crave as this latest instalment adds a very confusing advancement that doesn’t
really progress in the way I would have imagined. If I was to compare Virtua Tennis 2009 to
a real tennis player’s career, it would have to be Tim Henman. Although falling short
of actually winning any major awards, we still respect the plucky Brit’s achievements even
though we know deep down in our heart, we expected so much more.

Tagged : # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # #

Dennis Veasley

18 thoughts on “Virtua Tennis 2009 Review for Xbox 360 (HD)”

  1. It can get very repetitive, but I think the annoyance is more with the level of ease you dispatch many of the opposition. Very little challenge. Thankfully online play helps.

  2. Actually its a comment relating to when birds have disrupted tennis matches on various occasions and landed πŸ™‚ Well done for spotting though!

  3. They even cut corners with the coach. Tim Henman (3:01). Yes, I would like to learn how to be the best, but not from the guy who won 11 tourneys in 11 years. The game is quite boring and repetitive and does not replicate the playability and fun of previous iterations.

    Enjoyed your review very much, but I think 70% is too high and I think that rating is based partially on sentimentally for this games predecessors.

  4. Virtua Tennis 2009 is not original enough to distinguish itself from VT3. Tennis is not a game which lends itself to biennial updates. There are maybe one or two stars that emerge every few years, maybe a few new tournaments but not enough to merit a new VT game, especially one of such poor quality. The original Virtua Tennis was so fundamentally sound that it was still enjoyable and revolutionary six years after it came out; this game is very lacklustre.

  5. which means that playing your opponent out of position to force an error is impossible. Ive only ever hit the ball out on this game when trying to return a smash back into play.

    The game lacks the most dominant female player of the past decade, Serena Williams and the current female world number 1, Dinara Safina (although Ill cut them some slack because the WTA No.1 is being passed around like a hot potato since Justines departure).

  6. The on court clock in the corner reads m:ss so once you've played 10 minutes it resets itself (9:59, 0:00). In Virtua Tennis, they had local umpires and languages (Jeu, Set et Match) instead of two generic voices. The sound in general is indescribably poor.

    The players don't wear white at the London Club. A few players look like they have been inhabited by malevolent spirits (2:44). Tennistically, the majority of points (at least 4 out of every 5) are won by winners (e,g, 6:24)

  7. This is an excellent review, JW.

    VT09 is very flawed and seems to lack any quality control whatsoever. When lobbed, the players run backwards whilst facing the net and not looking at the ball. There is no sliding on the clay, no slipping or bad bounces on the grass. The ball has an annoying vapor trail even if you play a drop shot and there is no trajectory change of the ball no matter which surface you are playing on (e.g. high bounce on clay).

  8. hahaha! excellent comment!
    i'm only going to get this because TS3 is driving me mad, all the shots look fake and all the characters' postures are awful and they mostly have identical serves and Mark Philippousis? come on. and the pace is too slow.
    I reckon VT is a better arcade game than a tennis sim though the swing motions do look more realistic here than TS2 or 3. i don't think they should force you to play the crappy games to improve your character though…

  9. if only those sumo digital guys had not changed the formula (same with Virtua Tennis 3) and reverted it back to Virtua Tennis 2 with updated stuff… *sigh*

  10. Gametag xbox 360: adn1pp

    for anyone who wants to challenge me.. in virtua tennis 2009. πŸ˜‰
    Arriba deje mi gametag para quien me quiera desafiar en virtua tennis 2009 πŸ˜‰

  11. You realize that the AI level is too low, when you make men's doubles teams look like cake, with women's teams…in other words, for example, when you destroy Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal in doubles, with Nicole Vaidisova and Daniela Hantuchova.

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