Virtua Tennis 3 Reader Review
Let's set off the fireworks.
Like many of you, I was in wait of this game for months. I was so desperate for it that I ended up buying Top Spin 2 just to make the wait slightly easier. I bought an Xbox 360 and upgraded my PC - well, OK, not just for this, but you get the idea. Virtua Tennis 3 - just roll those words in your mouth. Judging from the hype and the wait, history, and power of the next gen consoles /PCs, surely this was to change the course of sports games forever. True, no one was expecting a revolution in gameplay - in fact, all of us wanted the same gameplay with prettier padding.
Trouble is, we got it. Be careful of what you wish for.
To be sure, VT3 is spectacular. The graphics are excellent (if not groundbreaking), the play mechanics remain true, the players are lifelike and act according to their real life counterparts. Interface is more bearable than that of most Japanese games, the career mode is deep and rich, the minigames are as addictive as ever.
Yet, I put it aside and uninstalled it before completing the first match.
Why? You ask, all but pulling your hair out. The answer is simple: there are only so many times I can tolerate Roger Federer falling and slithering on the ground picking up every shot. Falling, reaching, while running, volleying, you name it. Just be slightly out of range of the shot and you can make you player pop down and up like a jack-in-the-box. It is freaking ugly, revolting, unnatural, and makes you feel that there is no way to end rallies.
To add to this, reach the full meter on your serve and your serve won�t be picked up 90% of the time, REGARDLESS OF ANGLE. I planted three aces against Nadal in this way, while aiming RIGHT AT HIS RACKET. As far as I can tell, this continues through every game mode and difficulty setting. Therefore the game is broken. There, I said it. I know it can make the game tremendously fun in one-on-one matches. But I don�t want that kind of fun. I was better off playing Smash Court on my PS2 with barely visible players (by comparison), sludgy movement and unrealistic ball behaviour. That is, if I didn't have Top Spin 2. Ironically, for me at least, VT3 ended up convincing me that TS2 is a somewhat under appreciated almost-classic. I have the PC version and it looks lovely, freer of jags than any other PC game I have played. There are irritants - long load times, menus clearly designed with consoles in mind, stability problems. There is the heinous oversight of ranking Andy Roddick as No.1 (perhaps to please the American market). There is an irritating lack of replays and the controls are a nightmare to map.
But, and it is a big but, the gameplay is fast, fluid and quite realistic. The background detailing adds unexpected warmth and charm to the game, and the ball physics are not much different from those of VT3, as far as I can tell. On the flip side, there is no Raphael Nadal, and infuriatingly, no wide-screen support.
Incidentally, both games appear to have solved the perspective problem quite admirably. After a while with both, I no longer found myself yearning for the 'near' side whenever I ended up on the far one. Here, too, TS 2 appears to have trumped VT3: the gameplay in the former is such that being on the far side seems to open up all sorts of possibilities. Then again, hitting advanced shots in TS2 is a nightmare, mapped as they are onto an exact press of a button - go either higher or lower and you mishit the shot entirely. That has the unpleasant effect of placing the advanced shots almost permanently out of reach. That doesn't detract from the fun factor of the game, too.
So there - I ended up reviewing Top Spin 2 instead. As far as ratings are concerned, I would have gone lower, but it is Virtua Tennis after all. Yeah, call me a sellout.
Maybe the crippling problem I mentioned is inherent to the PC version. I hope somebody can give me a single reason to re-install the game, or buy the Xbox360 version, in the comments section, by telling me there is a way around this problem. Can you (please), guys?
3 / 10