|System: Wii, X360, PS3, PC||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Sumo Digital||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: SEGA||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Jun. 9, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-4||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
This game boasts a huge lineup of male and female professional tennis players, and you'll play them in countless singles and doubles matches. The A.I. controlling them works to provide a decent challenge overall, but there are some weird aspects to their play styles. Somehow, they virtually never whiff shots; to beat them, you have to lure them to a far corner of the court and hit the next shot to an area they can't get to. That's fair enough, considering they're professionals, but we'd have liked to see a little more human fallibility, at least in the lower-ranked opponents.
Winning is easiest in single-player matches, which give you the biggest area in which to mislead your opponents. Your foes, especially the early ones, will often do quite stupid things (like give you an easy shot, and then stand all the way to one side of the court). In doubles, it's much easier for them to keep the whole court under control, so matches often feel like a contest to see who'll whiff first. Someone with a better knowledge of doubles strategy (we're not real-life tennis players, because if we exercised, we wouldn't be gamers anymore, now would we?) might be able to put more shots in just the right places to win, but we had a heck of a time getting balls past opposing doubles teams.
Virtua Tennis 2009 offers a wide assortment of modes. You can play single matches alone or in local multiplayer, and there's a wi-fi multiplayer mode (we had trouble finding matches, unfortunately). There's also a very good tutorial that teaches all the different types of shots and tests your ability to pull them off.
The core of the game, though, is the career mode, in which you create a character and play through seasons against the pros. You start out ranked 100 and slowly work your way up, and as you do so, more and more matches and tournaments become available. As you play, your character gets worn out and loses stamina, which you can replace by resting at home or spending some of your winnings on energy bars. If you get sick of straight-up tennis, there are plenty of mini-games to play (such as hitting balls at pirate ships). Hardcore tennis fans will find these gimmicks to be a distraction from the main game, but we found them mildly amusing and a nice break. They can also be wickedly challenging tests of your skills.
Presentation-wise, VT2009 excels. The graphics are very realistic for the Wii, and the sound does a great job of evoking a real tennis match. It's reasonably easy to navigate the various menus, though we bought energy bars accidentally a few times. SEGA has been releasing Virtua Tennis titles for a decade now, and the experience shows itself in this game's polish.
In the end, we definitely recommend Virtua Tennis 2009. It's a solid step up from what's been on the Wii so far, a great if imperfect debut for MotionPlus, and an addictive enough experience that we kept playing well past the point where our arms got sore.
CCC Freelance Writer