Virtua Tennis 2009 • Page 2

Motion granted.

Not so with the Wii MotionPlus add-on plugged in, however. As with Grand Slam Tennis, WMP in Virtua Tennis 2009 offers a tangible extra layer of precision which returns a great deal of the flowing intuitiveness that any tennis game requires. That said, coaxing the game into letting you play with WMP controls involves an unnecessary amount of nannying. Despite having a global settings option in main menu, the game still forces you to instruct it to utilise WMP controls at the start of every single game, when it also checks whether you're a lefty. Not only that, you're then instructed to point the Wii remote at your player at the start of every single point, presumably so the game can ensure the calibration is correct before the point gets underway. Whatever the reason, you'll soon get heartily tired of having to go through this flow-breaking rigmarole.

Once again, getting used to the controls isn't instant, but again it's something the useful tutorial goes some way to remedying. The most obvious difference between the systems initially is the removal of the shot gauge, which means you have to instantly rely much more on your own judgement rather than focusing on the varying speed of a white line travelling from one side of a horizontal bar to the other. Removing this visual aid generally makes the game feel more immersive, and it's apparent that real-life racquet motions are being replicated on-screen in real-time. Although it's by no-means foolproof, the general direction and velocity of any given shot is replicated convincingly, if not quite as intuitively as in Grand Slam.

But just as with GST, the business of running is still a problematic issue. By default, you can simply leave it up to the AI to position your player for you - an option which obviously strips away a significant amount of the strategy. Worse still, the timing of your wind-up and swing can have an influence on where the AI decides to run to, often resulting in shots where the ball will miraculously reappear, despite having evidently flown beyond your despairing racquet. With the nunchuk plugged in you can take complete control, but at the cost of tethered interference. With practice you'll perhaps get used to a wired controller being plugged in, but it's never the most graceful pairing.

3
Moments before doing the splits.

In all other senses, the game is almost identical to the PS3 and 360 versions, featuring the exact same World Tour mode, online options, and roster of male and female professionals. Visually the game obviously can't compete with the HD versions, but still manages to boast the flowing animation that has been VT's trademark for almost a decade - at least when the odd juddering slowdown doesn't intervene.

As with the PS3 and 360 versions, the player customisation options are pretty poor, and while the likenesses are great for the real-life pros, the game suffers when you're playing the generic unknowns. Somehow Sumo has managed to make this side of the game proportionally worse than previous VTs, and it's hard to understand how it managed to break something that didn't need fixing. Likewise, the rejigged World Tour mode is a chore to play through, and the new court games fail to engage. Online play also suffers on the Wii thanks to the relative paucity of matches and the ongoing friends code shenanigans, but it would be harsh to put the blame on Sumo for that.

4
Murray to win Wimbledon? That's where my money's heading.

On the whole, Virtua Tennis 2009 is another clear indication of the potential of the Wii MotionPlus add-on. While the game struggles to provide intuitive accuracy with default motion controls, the addition of Nintendo's little dongle transforms the accuracy of the strokeplay in a manner which will be warmly received by both old-school Virtua Tennis fans, and casual admirers of the sport at large. A few residual issues with the running mechanic aside, VT2009 is a great tennis game, especially in multiplayer. It might lack some of the charm and fluidity of EA’s offering, but Sumo deserves much credit nevertheless. With two strong tennis titles on the market, Wii owners suddenly find themselves spoilt for choice.

7 /10

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Kristan Reed

Kristan Reed

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Kristan is a former editor of Eurogamer, dad, Stone Roses bore and Norwich City supporter who sometimes mutters optimistically about Team Silent getting back together.

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