This will make you love tennis. No, really. Even if you loathe the sport and grit your teeth when Wimbledon distorts the TV schedules, Virtua Tennis 3 is so realistic that it forces you to appreciate the sport’s intricacies - in a stealthy education dressed as addiction. And while the latest game in the much-loved series is no massive departure - it’s still a tennis game, for instance - there’s enough new gameplay tweaks and content to tempt veterans as well as newcomers.
It looks like an absolute gem, with stunning dynamic lighting and some of the most impressive player models yet seen on 360. There’re over 20 real competitors, including Federer, Nadal and Roddick, plus the likes of Sharapova, Hingis and Hantuchova for those who prefer their tennis lady-shaped. Up close in replays, these pros look almost photo-realistic - expertly capturing everything from Henman’s snaggled-toothed grimace to the flirty wiggle of Sharapova in her prude-baiting mini.
But to accurately simulate a quick-fire sport like tennis, the animation has to be ultra-responsive and VT3 delivers. Everything from a topspin lob to a desperate baseline lunge looks spot-on and even if you change your mind mid-stroke - switching from a backhand down the line to a cross-court volley - the animation is rapid enough to keep up with you, making for incredibly fluid gameplay.