Virtua Tennis World Tour review

Sega serves up another slice of its top tennis franchise and PSM2 loves it...

Why you can trust GamesRadar+ Our experts review games, movies and tech over countless hours, so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about our reviews policy.

At this year's E3, we marched around the PSP booths in search of something to whet our appetites.

But after strolling past enthusiastic booth babes attempting to pimp NFSU Rivals, Lumines and Ape Escape, a terrible realisation overcame us - we'd played all these games to death already.

"Well there's no point sticking around here," we thought. "Let's hit the PS2 stands instead. They've just unveiled Taxi Driver. Should be good!" Clearly, our jet lag was making us go frikkin' mental.

But then we noticed a stand with Virtua Tennis emblazoned across it. One frantic set of rallying later and it was confirmed - Virtua Tennis World Tour had saved the day.

And now, settled down back in the UK with the review code, that statement is truer than ever.

Unlike housewives' favourite Tim Henman, developers Sumo know how to put together a decent game of tennis. They're responsible for the quality Virtua Tennis 2, which graced PS2s back when Acclaim had the licence, money and a future.

The series arguably houses the most realistic physics of any sports title on any platform, never mind PS2. And we aren't disappointed with the PSP incarnation one bit.

In fact, their efforts have surpassed our wildest tennis dreams... no, not that one with Maria Sharapova, our gaming dreams.

Remarkably, the animations of Roddick, Hantuchova et al are slicker than ever before. Lunges and diving shots feel more responsive to your button presses and overhead smashes are particularly meaty, with players now soaring into the air to rain the mother-of-all power shots down at their opponents.

Even the standard backhand and forehand strokes are delivered smoothly, at grass-singeing speeds.

And all these strokes are unfurled at the touch of only three button presses - square to hit a lob, circle to slice the ball and X for a normal groundstroke and that's it. Brilliantly simple.

It's not just the easy-to-master control system that has us serving up match after match. There's also plenty of content to waste time with too.

We continually bleat on about how important games that you can play in short bursts are to PSP and Virtua Tennis World Tour has plenty in its locker as far as quick thrills are concerned.

This is especially true of the minigames that will have you hooked. They also provide a handy alternative to the main tennis matches, should you need one.

Back on the court, the sim side of Virtua Tennis World Tour caters for pros and novices alike. Positioning is the key, and for a few games against the CPU, you'll feel like Pete Sampras as you thwack thunderous strokes from the base line.

But as the old saying goes, 'there's always someone better than you', especially if you end up playing via WiFi connectivity.

Newcomers will find this out the hard way, as Virtua Tennis experts demolish you with well-placed shots you would never imagine possible, leaving you swearing like a disgruntled McEnroe.

But that's what's brilliant about World Tour - you constantly evolve as a player. Even when you think you've mastered it, you unearth tweaks to your standard strokes.

Yes, WiFi mode works a treat. Linking up with another tennis aficionado allows you to partake in a straight singles game. Add another couple of people (yes, four players, four PSPs, one game) and you've got yourself a doubles match.

The action largely remains as fluid as it would do in single-player mode against the computer, although we did experience a small amount of lag at times - but this is a common theme with WiFi gaming, and it never really gets in the way, so it's simply not worth worrying about.

Most players will be playing solo of course and the World Tour career mode will keep you busy for months. You get to design your very own player and then play tournaments across the globe, winning trophies, earning cash and then levelling up your skills in an RPG-style.

It's one of the most maddeningly addictive things you'll ever play (almost up there with PES master league) and the lure to play one more match/tournament/season is intense.

VTWT certainly offers value for money. With 16 characters to play with, frantic-but-amusing tennis-related minigames and that all-encompassing career mode, Sega's latest tennis classic offers bags of reasons for you to keep playing.

And playing and playing. Game, set and, indeed, match.

Virtua Tennis World Tour will be available for PSP on 1 September

More info

US censor rating"Everyone","Everyone"
UK censor rating"",""
Release date1 January 1970 (US), 1 January 1970 (UK)