I haven’t even mentioned the graphics yet, which is surprising considering how good they are. The player movement is great, the ball is easily visible no matter how fast it’s moving, and line calls are easy to see when the ball strikes the ground. The stadiums are also beautifully rendered and although there are no official stadium licenses, it’s pretty clear what each one is meant to be. The action replays are still there from previous versions (although the computer seems to get far more replays than you do) and there’s a great split screen view of the players returning to their ends after a rally that appears sometimes – small details, but ones that give the game a true quality feel.
Sound is also first rate, and the effects are perfect without getting in the way of the gameplay. The sounds when you strike the ball reflect the type of shot you played, and the power behind it. The crowd reacts convincingly to the play, and better shots receive a more hearty reception than unforced errors. If there’s one problem with the sound, it’s the rather poor “techno” style soundtrack that accompanies the matches – do yourself a favour and turn this off straight away, the matches are far better without the music.
Despite the dodgy in-match music, general presentation is first rate, with easy to navigate and beautifully designed menus and the ability to customise things like the umpire language. In fact the only fly in the ointment on the presentation front is the slight pause before the umpire announces the score, but to be fair this is something that most PSP games suffer from to varying degrees – so far FIFA seems to be the worst culprit.
European gamers have had to wait a very long time for the PSP to arrive, but the upside of this situation is that there is a plethora of great games on offer from day one. But even surrounded by some truly excellent launch titles, Virtua Tennis: World Tour shines the brightest – if you’re buying a PSP, don’t even think about leaving the shop without this game.
Virtua Tennis: World Tour is the best PSP game to date – it really is that simple. European gamers may have had to wait an age for the PlayStation Portable, but at least they’re getting a truly brilliant launch title thrown into the bargain.