I’ve had my PSP for around nine months now and I’ve been treated to some awesome handheld gaming during that time. The likes of Ridge Racers, WipeOut Pure and FIFA have all blown me away and had me constantly reminding myself that I was playing on a handheld console. But Virtua Tennis: World Tour takes the PSP up a notch, and leaves you wondering if you are ever going to switch your PS2 and Xbox on again.
As with previous Virtua Tennis games, what makes World Tour so brilliant is its simplicity. This is a game that you can just pick up and play without any previous knowledge and enjoy every second. Of course you may only find each game lasting a matter of seconds, because although the gameplay is simple, the game itself is far from easy.
The simplicity I speak of is very apparent in the control method. Movement can be controlled via the D-Pad or the analogue stick, while the X button will give you a topspin stroke, the O button a backspin stroke and the Square button a lob. That’s pretty much it, except it’s not. Not only do you have three different shot buttons, moving the analogue stick or D-Pad while striking the ball will determine where your shot is placed. Add to this the fact that you can apply varying degrees of power depending on your timing when striking the ball, and you’ve got a hell of a lot to think about in a split second – a little bit like playing tennis one might say!
You’ll soon find out that the “simple” gameplay becomes a lot more complicated when you play your first tournament. You might cruise past the first few opponents, but when you reach the Semi-Final things start to get tough. But it’s when you reach the final that you realise how much you still have to learn – not only will your opponent play almost perfect strokes, his footwork will be light and fast and he’ll have an almost psychic ability to judge where you’re going to play the ball. After replaying the final a dozen or so times, you’ll come to realise that some training is in order.
Luckily for you Sega has thrown a handy little career mode into the mix, where you have to build your player up in order for him/her to dominate the World Tour of the title. You can increase the skill of your player by entering a plethora of mini games that are designed to improve every aspect of your game – you can improve your serve by knocking down skittles, sharpen up your footwork by grabbing flags while balls are fired at you, or even practice your volleys by hitting balls onto a target on the ground.