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Virtua Tennis 3 - hands-on

Anyone who remembers the Dreamcast knows Virtua Tennis is money. If you never played it all those years ago, you're in for a really nice surprise. Unless you're a fan of the sport, tennis games tend to lack that special something that keeps you coming back for more. Virtua Tennis has it. The control is smooth and simple, the graphics are crisp and easy on the eyes, and - now that it's coming to the Xbox 360 - online play is firmly in place.

PS3 owners get motion-sensitive Sixaxis control, but 360 gamers lucky enough to be finishing up Lost Planet will now be smacking balls in each others' faces over the network. While all the modes aren't available online, what you get is very solid: ranked and "friendly" (unranked) matches, leaderboards of the top players, and VT:TV.

VT:TV is especially cool: it allows you to watch Xbox Live matches as they occur, and size up potential opponents before you take them on - or try to improve your own strategy by looking to what the top-ranked players are up to. In fact, the developers at Sumo Digital are prioritizing online content beyond almost anything else as they create the Xbox 360 version of the game (which first hit arcades last year).

Neither the emphasis on online content or the game's arcade origins suggest that it'll be deficient in other areas, however. The main single-player mode, the series' signature World Tour, has been expanded. Your job is to create your character - female or male, natch - and train, getting better and better and participating in tournaments. It's a simple life: just tennis and travel.

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