Virtua Tennis 3 hands-on

Wednesday 10 May 2006
While gamers are queuing up to sample tennis Wii style over at Nintendo's stand, the jostlers hugging Sony's PS3 pods will find an altogether more familiar virtual take on the racquet-wielding sport in the form of Sega's Virtua Tennis 3.

Apparently only 30% complete, it's no surprise that the E3 demo only offers a men's singles game with two players - Taylor Dent and Tommy Haas - and two different courts to try out. Yet despite the game's far from finished state, this is still unmistakeably Virtua Tennis.

As delightfully easy to pick up and play as ever, Virtua Tennis veterans will instantly feel comfortable - as will newcomers - with the game's ever-intuitive control system. Lob, slice and topspin are distributed on the square, circle and X buttons respectively and the left analogue stick controls the player.

Above: Although it's only 30% complete VT 3 is already looking lovely

Moving our chosen Wimbledon warrior felt responsive and the back-and-forth ball belting was as smooth as you'd expect. AI was a tad flattering, but then it would be pointless drawing any conclusions from playing a brief demo of a game that's less than a third complete.

Of course, while the gameplay remains reassuringly familiar, the visuals have received a next-gen spruce and the game is certainly lovely to look at. Graphics are amazingly crisp and the lighting and shading effects already look impressive - seeing the grass court basking in glorious sunlight is enough to make you pine for Wimbledon.

The one thing that we felt was missing from the demo is unfortunately something that we know definitely won't make it into the finished version. The absence of any DualShock rumble - which always acted as a good indicator of when to strike the ball - was really noticeable and we're sure it's a feature that will be greatly missed by the Virtual Tennis faithful.