A few weeks ago, I reviewed Top Spin 4 from a fitness perpective. Specifically, I mentioned that as a tennis simulation, it was fantastic and a great game for tennis fans who want to use a Dualshock to play simulated matches. On the other hand, the Move capabilities were not earth-shattering. It just didn’t feel like real tennis.
Today, I’m reviewing Virtua Tennis 4, which is fitting as the US Open is going on right now as I write this. In many ways, Virtua Tennis 4 is the polar opposite of Top Spin 4. While Top Spin 4 focused on an accurate simulation of tennis and its players and stadiums (right down to the swings and the grunts of the players and paying for licensing of the names of the tournaments), Virtua Tennis doesn’t go into as much detail in that regard. On the other hand, Top Spin 4 (as its predecessors were) is a great “arcade style” tennis game. And its implementation of the Move controller make IT the reigning champion as far as a realistic-feeling tennis game for the PS3.
Using the Move controllers to control your tennis racket is remarkably realistic. Unlike Top Spin 4, you can control most strokes with the controller itself, not by mashing buttons. A slice is a slice, top spin is top spin, and a lob is a lob. To approach the net, you take a step forward. To serve, you swing the controller up and then down.
While Top Spin 4 had a “TV camera perspective” view, Virtua Tennis lets you see the play from the player’s perspective. As in real tennis, you need to hit shots when they’re about waist-high, and you can do so with heavy or light force. I guess it would have been a lot more of a workout if any running had been involved, but the system does all the running for you. Still, at higher difficulty levels, you’re going to be doing a lot of arm movement. After playing through several times, I was actually working up a little sweat.
The biggest problem with this game is that the Move can only be used in a tiny portion of the game, namely the Motion Play Mode. You can’t use Move controllers in the rest of the game, including the main “Tournament Mode” portion. My guess is that the developers didn’t know about the Move until they were already well into development, and so they only had time to fit it into a small part of the game.
This is a demo match I played between Federer and Nadal on “Easy” difficulty (you can download and play the same demo in the Playstation Store).
Overall, I’d rate this game a 3.5 out of 5 stars. Don’t get me wrong–the Move functionality is the best I’ve seen for a Tennis game on any system. But you’ll be disappointed if you pay the retail price of $49.99 for this “Playstation Move compatible” game only to find that you can only use the Move on 10% of the game. I hope for Sega’s sake that they’re working on a fully Move compatible Virtual Tennis 5 right now. As far as this one, if you’re a big tennis fan, I’d say it’s worth it once the price drops below $20.