Virtua Tennis 4

7.0 Overall Score

Written by on June 2, 2011 in

 

The sport of tennis is no stranger to the world of video games and has been around since the early days of gaming with Pong. Over the last 30 years there have been many tennis video games and with each release, the games got better and better, but as we met the current generation, advancements in gameplay and graphics seemed to have halted, making tennis games repetitive and redundant.  In order to stand out from the crowd and to bring something new to the genre, Virtua Tennis 4 adds use of the Kinect peripheral, but is this enough to revive this genre and make the game relevant in this generation?

GAMEPLAY

Out of all genres of video games, tennis games have always had the simplest controls so that anyone can pick up a controller and play and the same is true of Virtua Tennis 4.  The Virtua Tennis series has always been more of an arcade style game than an actual simulator and this makes the game very easy to play, but incredibly hard to master.  In order to play the game you only need to understand 4 buttons: A = top spin, Y = lob, X = slice and B = power shot, that’s it! You can play the game, but if you want to perfect the art, you will need to dedicate many hours of learning tennis tactics and aim precision.

There are four play modes to choose from in Virtua Tennis 4; world tour, arcade, party and motion control (for Kinect).  The world tour mode is in essence, the story mode, but it is set up in a very strange way, almost like a board game.  You move your character through the tour with random move pieces as if you were rolling dice.  This random design is weird and can add a lot of frustration if you don’t have the right number of moves to attempt a tournament and this can add to a lot of frustration.  This frustration takes away from the gameplay and makes it less enjoyable. In my opinion, the world tour mode would have been better off just having a straight forward progression.

The arcade mode is straight forward and just what you would expect, pairing you up with 5 random opponents while you try to rack up the highest score.  The party mode is a little strange though as it will have you playing mini games set in a tennis court such as leading baby chicks to their mother without them getting hit by incoming balls or smashing giant playing cards in order to get hands as if playing poker.  These games can be fun for a while and are a nice break from the norm, but they really don’t add much to the gameplay nor do I think that they are fun enough to entertain your friends as a party mode should.

KINECT SUPPORT

Since the Kinect peripheral was released last year, we see some games that can only be played with the Kinect while others can be played with a standard controller, but claim that they are “Better with Kinect”.  Virtua Tennis 4 falls in with the latter, but I’m not entirely sure the statement “better” applies here. First off, the ability to use the Kinect is limited only to the motion control option and sadly is not available for the rest of the game’s modes.  While using the Kinect option, you will be playing in a first-person perspective which works pretty well, but can be a little disorienting at times especially when you serve the ball.  Also, the control scheme is limited to just the swing of the racket and lacks the ability to move throughout the court, but that aside, the mode is pretty fun to play if anything, just for the change in the standard gameplay.  I do wish that this mode was a little more fleshed out though as it feels like it was tacked on in the last stage of development just to have the selling power of Kinect.

GRAPHICS

As far as the visuals are concerned, Virtua Tennis 4 passes with flying colors. This game is easily the best looking tennis game I’ve ever seen as the environments and character models are downright beautiful.  The textures and character motions really make the game’s characters feel lifelike and at times makes you forget that you are playing a video game.  Although not the best looking video game out on the market today Virtua Tennis does a great job on its visuals and far exceeds expectations on what a tennis game should look like.


ONLINE MULTIPLAYER

In today’s video game generation, it would be a crime not to have an online mode, especially for a tennis game, luckily Virtua Tennis 4 has a pretty strong multiplayer mode.  Although all that is being offered here is a game of tennis, the ability to play with people from around the world is really cool especially when you get a good match without a lot of lag.  One thing that I wish was better about the online mode is the matchmaking set up, all that is offered is quick match or private match, that’s it.  The online experience would be better if the searches could be customized for optimum matches.

ACHIEVEMENTS

Ah, the achievements, my favorite part.  All in all, the achievement list in Virtua Tennis 4 is pretty good and requires a wide variety of tasks to unlock them all.  In your quest for the achievements, the game will have you playing through the world tour mode, mini games, online, etc, but don’t think that because the list is simple, that the game is a push-over.  Although it’s not the hardest game I’ve ever played, Virtua Tennis 4 definitely has some very difficult and time consuming achievements.  One achievement in particular requires you to play through Arcade Mode and reach the final match where you must beat the character King.  This sounds like an easy achievement, until you realize that in order to make King even appear, you have to play through the campaign without having any of your opponents reach the score of 40 and once you do that, King is no walk in the park (took me 4 hours to finally beat him).  Another achievement to look out for would be Online Master, which requires you to reach rank A in the online ranking system, this achievement alone can easily take 40 – 50 hours alone, good luck if you decide to go for it.  Overall, not a bad list, but if you want all the achievements, be prepared for a long grind.

 

FINAL THOUGHTS AND SCORE

Virtua Tennis 4 is a very fun game and I highly recommend it to anyone who loves the sport of tennis or video game tennis for that matter.  The game is not perfect and it could have been a bit better with a few more tweaks, but overall, it’s fairly enjoyable.  The addition of the Kinect feature seems like a pretty cool idea, but falls flat on what was promised with the phrase “Better with Kinect”.  The ability to swing your arms to hit a ball is not that enjoyable and feels like a novelty that was added on at the last minute.  Maybe with the next entry in the series, the developer with have a better handle on the Kinect equipment to make for a better gaming experience, but until then, just stick to the standard controller for a better gaming experience.  If you are an achievement hunter, the achievement list is pretty varied, making for a fun quest to unlock them all, but be prepared for a lengthy grind.   Virtua Tennis 4 is a beautiful looking game and it does a good job of capturing the essence of the sport of tennis, but I feel that with a little more effort, this game could have been better.  Hopefully the next Virtua Tennis will make some necessary adjustments to the series to make for a more enjoyable experience.


A copy of Virtua Tennis 4 was provided to The Married Gamers for consideration and Review.

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Author: Miles Messenger View all posts by
I'm a 28 year old guy who enjoys all things gaming. I am married to a wonderful woman who is working on a career as a published author and I'm so proud of her for all that she's accomplished. For my day job, I am a supervisor at a Home Warranty company. It's not the greatest job, but it brings in the bacon.

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