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Platforms: PS3, Xbox 360, PSP, PC - PS3 and Xbox 360 versions reviewed.
The problem with the vast majority of PlayStation 3 launch titles is that they’ve been around for a while on other platforms. But Sega decided to coincide two of its major releases with the UK PS3 launch – one was Virtua Fighter 5 which we reviewed last week and the other is Virtua Tennis 3, which I’m looking at right now.
I’ve always been a fan of the Virtua Tennis series. Something about the simplicity of the gameplay makes it compelling and addictive. OK, so it may lack some of the depth of other sports games like Pro Evo, but not everyone wants to spend hours, days, weeks or even months learning every move and technique to get the best out of a game. Virtua Tennis 3 is one of those games that you fire up for a quick ten minute blast, then realise that you’ve been playing for three hours!
In fact, there is irrefutable proof that Virtua Tennis 3 is the best PlayStation 3 launch title – it gave me a blister on my thumb! There is no stronger testament to a game’s addictive quality than when it causes you physical pain, but you still can’t stop playing. All the hardcore gamers out there will know exactly what I mean, it’s that feeling you get when the pleasure of playing the game outweighs the pain of playing the game. Call it masochistic if you will, but I’m still willing rub my thumb raw, just to play a few more months of my World Tour career mode!
But Virtua Tennis 3 has a lot more to offer than sore thumbs. Unsurprisingly it looks superb – yes some of the character models don’t look as much like the real people as I’d like, but they’re close enough to draw you into the game. The courts are beautifully drawn, especially the London grass courts, while the character animation during play is second to none.
It’s fair to say that Virtua Tennis 3 is one of those games that really does show the benefit of high definition gaming. Hook your PS3 or X360 up to a good HDTV and you will blow your mates away when they walk in and see it running. The detail on the courts is superb, while the lighting effects are subtle but undeniably effective. In fact Sega has done everything possible to bring Virtua Tennis into the high definition era.
Sound is also first rate with thumping racket effects and believable grunts and moans as each competitor plays their strokes. If there’s one weak point to the presentation it’s the god awful music that accompanies each match, but thankfully you can switch that off in the options menu.