Voice Module








In Memory
Sean Pettibone


Virtua Tennis 3 (Sega for Playstation 3)

Sega's Virtua Tennis 3 brings the popular sports franchise to the next generation for the first time on PS3. The game itself remains as addictive and engaging as ever with brilliantly designed simple play mechanics that allow you to perform a variety of hits and throws easily. The PS3 version features the usual variety of mini-games along with tournament and online modes to make things even better. Excellent visuals showcase a superb high-definition engine that shows a remarkable level of detail in the player models. Look inside and find out why Virtua Tennis 3 remains so addictive.

Virtua Tennis 3 allows players to hit the courts with a variety of gameplay modes and challening opponents. The game features an impressive roster of real world tennis stars ranging from Andy Roddick to Venus Williams and other famous athletes as well with a total roster of more than 16 players available to use. Each of the players has their own strengths, weaknesses and a unique style that comes into play during the matches. You can also mix genders in the game, which is another cool feature that adds more replay value to the overall experience. At the main menu, you are given loads of options to pick from. These include time of day, music volume and the ability to pick which court you want to play on. Before you begin a single player match, you can choose any one of these 20 main characters during the game and add to their appearance and look as you play. In addition, players can create their own character for use in the tournament modes, giving you a unique avatar that allows you to further customize your character by purchasing items such as outfits to change their appearance. The game includes a number of different modes including the expected practice, tournament and world tour modes. There's also a Tennis Academy mode where you can practice your moves and learn the basics of playing the game without too much pressure. Once you've gotten these training missions down, you can then move onto the court and play against an AI opponent. At the start of each match, you can choose to play either a singles or doubles match and can set the number of matches, rounds and rules per match to customize the game further. You can choose to play either solo against the computer or play against a human opponent. Unfortunately, this edition of the game fails to include online play, which is hugely disappointing and makes the experience feel less robust than it should.

On the other hand, Virtua Tennis 3 compensates for this deficiency because it includes several interesting modes that offer more depth than the standard arcade mode. The first of these is the tournament mode where you compete against a series of opponents in order to earn cash for upgrades. These can become quite challenge as you move up the rankings and face off against increasingly difficult opponent. If you want to delve even deeper into the game, you can participate in World Tour mode, where you can take a player through a series of rounds and challenges in an open world setting. You are given a map to navigate and each hot spot contains a different challenge. These range from standard matches against human opponents to training exercises where you have to complete tasks such as returning a volley before the clock runs out. There are also more than a dozen highly entertaining mini-games involving knocking things down or avoiding obstacles. Most of these can be played at launch, though additional ones are unlocked as you play through the game. As you'd expect, Virtua Tennis 3's mini-games offer plenty of variety and are quite challenging and addictive and offer gamers a very high replay value that makes them worth playing. As you beat them, you can also unlock these from the main menu and choose to compete against another player for even more fun. This solid addition helps to make the game play even deeper, extending Virtua Tennis 3's replay value exponentially.

Previous installments of Sega's Virtua Tennis series have featured some of the tightest, most addictive gameplay on any console and this installment carries this forward. Its controls are smooth, intuitive and satisfying, allowing you to swing the racket, and perform some pretty spectacular saves fairly easily. Players can choose either top spin shots which bounce through the net or volleys, which slam over and are difficult to defend against. The game offers a surprising amount of challenge in this regard and these techniques makes it all the more enjoyable. Learning the nuances of power-shots and smashes makes all the difference, though the controls are relatively straightforward throughout in the standard modes of play. One of the more interesting aspects of the PS3 edition of the game is its use of tilt motion control using the Sixaxis. You move the player around by tilting the controller left and right and can perform shots by swinging the controller horizontally and vertically. It takes some getting used to, but this definitely helps to immerse you further into the game. While it's not as revolutionary as you'd expect it to be, it's definitely one of the more unique additions to the series and helps make this installment even more enjoyable. Also helping the game is the fact that it's arcade-style speed allows for fast action. Unlike many other sports titles, Virtua Tennis 3's matches move at a surprisingly fast pace and most matches should be over in a few minutes, making the game easy to pick up and play.

Virtua Tennis 3 is easy to play, and its simple presentation and sharp graphics make it even more accessible. The on-court action takes place in a standard 3/5 top-down perspective that makes it easy to follow the ball and your opponents' position. The camera remains fairly static throughout the action and zooms and out slightly depending on how close to the net you are. There aren't any extra camera moves available, but players can view that action up close in replays. VT3's level of detail is impressive, though some of the effects, such as the movement of the players' clothes are subtle but cool. The close-up angles allow you to see an impressive level of detail in the players with realistic movement and convincing facial expressions that make the characters in the game come alive. It offers an impressive amount of polish and looks quite crisp and sharp throughout, taking advantage of its HD engine to create an excellent look and feel. While Virtua Tennis 3 adds some impressive graphical polish to the series, the basic play mechanics and addictive action that have become the series' hallmark are still very much in evidence. The single-player matches deliver a series of solid opponents, while the deeper World Tour and Tournament modes add depth to the experience. Virtua Tennis 3 is one of the better PS3 sports titles we've played to date. Its intuitive controls, straightforward design, and interesting twists with the Sixaxis functionality add up to make this a solid release that should keep you entertained and challenged for some time.

- Michael Palisano


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