Sega Dreamcast owners will already know that Virtua Tennis is one of the greatest tennis games available.
It's ability to be very easy to pick-up-and-play, while still offering plenty to those who wish to master it was one of the defining elements of the game. Three iterations on and has the magic still lasted? We pick up our racquet and find out.
Now next generation, Virtua Tennis 3 from Sega is available on both the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 offering both console owners a chance to enjoy the game. The only real difference between the two is the online capabilities - basically the Xbox 360 version can be connected to Xbox Live while the Sony PlayStation 3 version doesn't have any online play at all.
Graphics-wise however and looking at both on a 1080i TV and it's hard to tell them apart. Sega has done well to maximise the high definition gameplay and this means everything from the fuzzy little yellow ball to the worn-in grass as you play at Wimbledon jumps out the screen crystal clear.
It's good the graphics are up to scratch, because unlike the first tennis computer game, Pong, the game is considerably more than just making sure you get the ball back to the opponent.
There are a number of areas within the game; Exhibition, court games, Tournament and World Tour. As before (Virtua Tennis 3 doesn't stray too far from what we've seen previously) the crux of the game is in the World Tour area and here you can work on your skills and enter tournaments as you slowly improve your rank to the top spot.
As you progress and win matches other tournaments and training sessions become available and the training sessions, which can be seen as more like mini games in their own right, help bolster your skill set: volley, footwork, serving, etc.
Gameplay as we've said, like previous versions, offers the ability to either stick to straight returns to get it over the net or a series of other options like volleys and lobs and flicks of the direction button add the spin.
In the beginning you don't need to worry - very much like Sega's other PS3 title Virtua Fighter, however as the games get harder more attention is needed in mastering the extra shots.
If you've got a PS3 and you've got Virtua Tennis 2 for your PS2, the only real reason for the upgrade will be the improvement of graphics and a few tweaks here and there. For the mainstay the game is virtually identical.
However for Xbox 360 users the main reason to upgrade is, if you are interested in this kind of thing, the online tournaments and play. Now you don’t need to wait for your mate to come back to yours to challenge them who is best over 5 sets.
Either way this is still a top notch game that will have you coming back for more.
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