Virtua Tennis 4 (with Move and 3D) Hands On Impressions

by on September 10, 2010

This past Wednesday, SEGA were hosting an event to showcase their upcoming titles, among them was Virtua Tennis 4. The demo that the good folks here at God is a Geek got to play was one that supported Sony’s PlayStation Move as well as 3D, and to be honest, we are here to tell you that it’s rather special!

The demo included a match between Roger Federer and Andy Murray, with users playing as Federer and consisted of a 3 game set.  Donning the 3D glasses, first impressions are that the game looks gorgeous and the 3D is absolutely sublime.  From the ball flying at you at a great pace to your raquet seemingly floating in front of you, this is 3D gaming as we once imagined it could be, exciting, visceral and really rather realistic looking.   Being what one might consider a “3D Sceptic” after playing this I was left with a dent to my ideals, if 3D can be this good then I most certainly want to be a part of it.

Picking up the PlayStation Move controller, at first I found myself struggling to come to terms with it, asking if I needed to “press any buttons” to do certain shots (as you would perhaps do in previous Virtua Tennis games), but of course the answer is no. This is Playstation Move, 1:1 motion control.

Forgive my candour but holy shit!! They weren’t wrong!  At first I found myself playing as if this were a game, just as if I was playing a tennis mini-game on the Nintendo Wii, and doing so I found myself struggling, missing shots and wondering what I was doing wrong.  Only when told “play as if you are playing tennis” did I realise that I was doing something wrong, I was playing it as if it were a game, but not a game of tennis!

It was around this time I noticed something rather fabulous.  In other motion controlled tennis games, the movement is done for you.  Not so in Virtua Tennis 4.  In Virtua Tennis 4, if you want to serve then rush into the net, then that’s what you do.  This is where the Playstation Eye joins the party!  Holding the Move (raquet) it is tracking “you” because you are holding the raquet!  If you move, your avatar moves (though in this case, your avatar is the raquet in 3D in front of you) and if you run to the net, your avatar moves to the net.

I wasn’t just playing a game, I was playing tennis!

It’s not all good though, the game is obviously early code, but I found that for some reason (whether this is my technique I don’t know) backhands seemed a little strange at times.  Sometimes it looked and felt as though I’d missed the ball but suddenly it would reappear and my shot would sometimes clear the net, sometimes bounce in front of me.  I’m willing to give the benefit of the doubt to the game as my backhand has always been the weakest part of my game!

Lobbing seemed to be an issue for me as well, though I was assured that you can lob but you have to “exaggerate” the action to make it work.  This seems a little at odds with how realistic most of the rest of the experience felt, but again, the game isn’t out until 2011!

All told, once I took off the glasses and placed the move down (begrudgingly I might add) I was left craving more, I can’t wait to play this game again.  It provides an interesting dilemma, people with both a 360 and PS3 that may have erred towards the 360 with a title like this have something to think about.  Playing this game with an imaginary wand (a-la Kinect) is nowhere near as appealing as playing it with a tangible object and moreover, SEGA told us that a Kinect enabled version isn’t on the cards at present.  Could Move really start to sway the more hardcore gamer in this manner?  They certainly won over the team here at God is a Geek!

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