Sega has done a good job in the licensing department, with pretty much everyone who’s anyone on the circuit represented. Brits will probably wonder why Andy Murray is missing, but I’m not particularly bothered about not being able to select a player who’s attributes are whinging and a lack of stamina. As well as all the licensed pros, you can create your own character, making him or her look exactly as you’d like them to.
Each of the resident pros seems to possess the correct attributes – Andy Roddick really does have a cannonball serve, Roger Federer really can take you apart with a superhuman array of shots and Tim Henman really does choke and snatch defeat from the jaws of victory in big matches! Obviously the level of your computer controlled opponents depends on the difficulty level that you’ve set in the options menu, although the progressive difficulty in the World Tour mode is spot on and really does drive you to train harder and improve every aspect of your game.
Your arsenal of shots is taken care of by three buttons – there’s the topspin shot, the slice and the lob. It is possible to play using just the topspin shot and do very well, but if you really want to progress in the World Tour, you’re going to need to develop and perfect your whole repertoire.
One of the beautiful things about Virtua Tennis 3 is that it’s easy to dip in and out – it’s not a game where you have to dedicate at least a couple of hours at a time to get anything out of it. If you want to have a quick bash around you can simply fire up an exhibition match, or if you have a bit more time you can have a go at a tournament. But the real single player challenge is the World Tour.
When you start the World Tour you’re ranked 300 in the world and you’ve got to fight your way up the rankings by entering tournaments and hopefully winning. At first you can only enter a limited number of tournaments because of your lowly ranking. A little practice will have you winning these early tournaments, even though you’re still competing against top players – it seems that they just don’t take the low ranking tournaments seriously and never give their best. Your first goal is to break into the top 200, or the top 204 to be precise – then you can enter a whole host of new tournaments for players ranked 204 and below.