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  1. #1
    Host of Saturday Night SEGA Gavvie's Avatar
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    Default RadioSEGA Review: Virtua Tennis 4 (Xbox 360)

    Launched way back in 1999, Virtua Tennis is the premier choice when it comes to arcade style Tennis games. 12 years later, does Virtua Tennis 4 continue in this vein, or has it lost its way?

    -STORY-

    You are kidding, right? Well..I suppose there is a story, of sorts. The World Tour mode tasks you with creating a male or female player, and then taking them through four seasons of tennis, earning Stars to help you rise up the SPT (SEGA Professional Tennis) Rankings. Each season culminates with one of the four Majors, with an All-Star tournament at the end if you're ranked high enough.

    Along the way, you can take part in minigames to raise attributes, as well as special matches to earn more Stars, either by facing off against SPT Pros (the licensed players), or in quite strange matches like a Fancy Dress Party, where you earn more money and Stars based on how much odd clothing you have equipped, like a top hat or a catcus plant for a racquet.

    That's pretty much it. I suppose you could create a story in your head if you wanted to make things more interesting.

    -GAMEPLAY & CONTROLS-

    Virtua Tennis 4 is played with a standard controller. The box states "Better with Kinect", but this is a blatant lie. There's a seperate Kinect mode called Motion Play, which is so utterly throwaway there's really no point for it to be there, other than to tick a box. In Motion Play mode, control of the tennis player is wrestled from you, and you're resigned to swinging your arms around to hit the ball. Seriously, if you've played Wii Sports Tennis, you've played this. There's really no need to try it.

    Likewise, if you've played any prior Virtua Tennis game, you'll be familiar with the controls. There is, however, a new Super Shot which charges up during matches based on a particular attribute, such as serving strongly, hitting shots with power etc. Pressing B launches an almost unstoppable return, which can easily turn the tide of a match.

    Game modes, aside from Motion Play, are as you'd expect. Minigames have their own Party mode, and there's the basic Exhibition, Arcade, World Tour and Online modes. Nothing too fancy.

    The World Tour mode is where you'll spend a lot of your time, however it's completely different to past WT modes. This time around, you have a set amount of days to make it from the start of the season to a Major tournament, and you're given Movement Tickets each day to help you get there. This means you have to plan your moves carefully to really maximise on the amount of Stars you can earn.

    Unfortunately, this also means that you can't go do what you want like in previous games. Quite often, you'll find a minigame or an exhibition tournament that you want to take part in, but ultimately miss because you don't have the tickets to proceed. And whilst you can buy extra tickets from stores, sometimes even these aren't enough. Cash is better spent on tickets to restore some Condition, or Agent tickets to earn more Stars.

    Oh yeah, Condition. Everything you do reduces it, be it minigames, charity appearances or exhibition matches. There are spaces that restore Condition, but it's a lot easier to use tickets to do it, if a little expensive. You also need to ensure you're at peak Condition for the Majors, as being in the red harms your player in the latter stages. It also deducts a number of days from your next season, as you have to recover from the injury.

    Trust me, you need those days. You have to get to the Major before the days expire, otherwise the game drops a 3 Star penalty on you. Each day you're late adds another two stars on. During my initial playthrough, an injury caused me to reach the US Major 16 days late. The resulting 33 Star penalty, and lack of Condition due to rushing to the Major, ended with me losing the US Super Tennis final, and therefore being ineligible for the All-Star tournament. Something to bear in mind.

    -MUSIC-

    The Virtua Tennis series has never been known for its music. Up until now, it had been generic guitar rock, but that's been dropped in favour of some of the most basic and bland electronic..crap, you'll be wishing it came back. Seriously bland, and really only there to provide some background noise whilst you're playing.

    A particular lowlight is the track that plays during the Coin Match and Poker Match minigames. It's woeful. In fact, there's no highlights at all. In all honesty, it's best to use the 360s custom soundtrack feature and play your own music over the top.

    -OVERALL-

    Back in 1999, Virtua Tennis was in the perfect position. With no other real challengers in the tennis market, it was regarded as the premier game. However, with Top Spin now taking charge of the simulation side of the sport, Virtua Tennis' arcade stylings are looking a little archaic, especially as the core game has changed little, if at all, over the last 12 years.

    If you're wanting a tennis game, you can't go wrong with VT4. But first, you should probably ask yourself what you're wanting out of said game. If it's a bit of pick up and play fun, VT4s your game.

    A point of note: If you have a PS3 and a 360, I highly recommend the PS3 version. Whilst I bought the 360 game to be able to review the Motion Play mode, the PS3 comes with two additional minigames and 3 or 4 extra Legends who aren't on the other formats. Whilst Motion Play on PS3 is bound to be as throwaway as it is on 360, the extra features make it the better choice.

    --

    Graphics - 3/5
    A massive improvement from Virtua Tennis 3, courts are detailed with a fully animated audience. Whilst the licensed players aren't exact likenesses, they're close enough so you can recognise them.

    Gameplay - 2/5
    Virtua Tennis 4 features the same gameplay as previous games, but the new look World Tour mode is a disappointment. The previous modes were fine, and this change isn't for the better.

    Sound - 0/5
    I can't even assign a number to this. There's a reason we've featured very little VT music on this site, and that's mainly because it's tripe. VT4 is no exception, in fact it's easily the worst of them.

    Length - 2/5
    Arcade tennis games have never been the longest games to play. You can quite easily burn through the World Tour mode in around 3 hours, if you're taking your time. After that, there's no reason to go back in save for Achievements. The other game modes lend themselves to pick and play gaming.

    Overall - 3/5
    If we allowed .5 scores in our official reviews, this would be a 2.5, but I'm rounding up to a 3. After four main games and two spin-offs, now's the time for a change. Virtua Tennis 4 is worth playing, but you might be better off renting. If you want to buy, PS3 is the way to go.

  2. #2
    Real name,no gimmiks richarddavies's Avatar
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    Not played a Virtua tennis game in awhile. When your actually playing a match does it have the same "feel " as the Dreamcast games or are they quite different now?.

    The way they've done the career mode sounds a bit of a pain in the arse aswell.

  3. #3
    NOT CONFUSING AT ALL Killer French Bread's Avatar
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    Interesting review, but you missed one potentially deal breaking detail: is Tim Henman in it?
    Tic Tac, sir?

  4. #4
    Host of Saturday Night SEGA Gavvie's Avatar
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    No, Tim Henman isn't in it I'm afraid. He's not even a Legend in the PS3 version. It's also the first main series game (VT2009 was more of a console only spin-off) where there's more male characters than females.

    As for the feel of the game, it does still feel the same, but it's also ever so slightly more realistic, if that makes sense.

  5. #5
    Retired RS Media Staff Retrix's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Killer French Bread View Post
    Interesting review, but you missed one potentially deal breaking detail: is Tim Henman in it?
    Unfortunately the coach is some guy called Spencer Heath. No idea who that is.

    Quote Originally Posted by Gavvie View Post
    It's also the first main series game (VT2009 was more of a console only spin-off) where there's more male characters than females.
    Apart from the males-only original, of course.

    I got Virtua Tennis 4 recently for PS3, had only played a couple of Exhibition matches with friends already but tried out the World Tour mode yesterday. Said mode has been criticised a fair amount, such as in the review above, so I wasn't expecting much. But, I actually quite liked it. I found it a refreshing change, and I didn't mind the slight random nature as it gave something to think about.

    Most of the mini-games are new. Some are good (I like the wall panels one), some are pointless (the poker one), and some are rather silly (the bomb one). And I think the infamous Pin Crasher is back.

    As far as playing the matches themselves are concerned (i.e. Arcade and Exhibition mode), this is the same as ever and so it should be. Doesn't really feel any different to Virtua Tennis 2 IMO.

    I agree with Gavvie on the music — the soundtrack I've heard for VT4 so far is dire, though I like some of the BGM from the original (like Beginning A Destiny and On The Run, though it gets repetitive if it's a long match!).

    There are a few small things that bug me. I wish the score still displayed between points, and I'm not so keen on the Super Shots. They're a distraction, and not actually that effective from the baseline, as it actually gives a human opponent more time to see where you're hitting it.

    Overall I'm pleased so for me this would have made a 4/5 based on my experiences so far. It's certainly a big step up from my last Virtua Tennis experience (VT2009), where I got bored of the long and slow World Tour very quickly. (That's also the Wii version, with imprecise controls and considerable lag at every stroke when playing doubles.)

    For the record, I own and really enjoy VT1&2 for the Dreamcast, own and don't particularly enjoy VT2009 for the Wii, and have had a bit of fun with (but am not hugely fussed about) SEGA Superstars Tennis. I have also played the original Top Spin and found it needlessly complicated and not much fun. I think there's a demo for the critically acclaimed Top Spin 4 though, so I may try that and see how much has changed.

    Thanks for the review Gavvie!
    There was an echidna from Vegas
    Whose hairstyle was totally outrageous
    When asked by the cops
    Why the dreadlocks
    He told them the idea was Sega's


    ​ The Typing of the Dead

  6. #6
    NOT CONFUSING AT ALL Killer French Bread's Avatar
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    That is a bonus if the world tour mode is shorter in this one. It was grim stuff fighting through the last one, felt like putting a shift in at work. At least it unlocked Henman though.
    Tic Tac, sir?

  7. #7
    Host of Saturday Night SEGA Gavvie's Avatar
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    Pin Crusher was one of my fav minigames, really gutted to find out it's a PS3 only game

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