|System: X360, PS3||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: SEGA / AM2||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: SEGA||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: March 20, 2007||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-4 (16 online)||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Jonathan Marx
Virtua Tennis 3 is the best tennis simulator I have ever played. Sega has done an excellent job here. They have made a game that is both challenging for the veteran and accessible for the novice. The game looks fantastic on the next generation consoles and it plays like a dream. Sega's Virtua Tennis is definitely the best tennis franchise out there, and this latest version is no exception. All of the classic elements of Virtua Tennis are here with some added refinement that is sure to please.
The gameplay in this title, for the most part, is smooth and realistic. You will be easily able to produce cut shots, drop shots, lobs, volleys, overhead smashes, and powerful serves. It is straightforward and the beginner will find themselves effortlessly returning the little green ball in the midst of a ten stroke rally. The expert will also not be disappointed. Returning the ball is one thing but doing so with accuracy and power is another altogether. The game is true to itself and feels familiar, like your favorite pillow. Old hands of the series will be able to jump right in with nearly no learning curve. It is truly satisfying to run an opponent to exhaustion with a simple series of crosscourt, topspin forehands. This really is a game that everyone will enjoy. Even those that are not a fan of the sport will find themselves playing the game for hours. Tennis translates wonderfully to video gaming, and the Xbox 360 and PS3 versions are the best yet.
Certainly the gameplay of Virtua Tennis 3 is second to none, but there are a few hiccups for which I would have loved to have gotten a big glass of water. For example, players will at times dive for balls that they could have easily chased down. Another pet peeve of mine is the uncanny way quality opposition will have of diving and successfully returning balls they have absolutely no right getting to. Seriously, this will drive you crazy. More problems are encountered whilst volleying and lobbing opponents. Hitting a quality volley is a seemingly random event. Hitting one crisply with purpose and control seems to be decided by an A.I. game of Ro-Sham-Bo. Concomitantly, trying to lob a challenger in the later stages of the career mode is suicide. You will have the ball smashed back at you like it was nothing. The opponents at times look like Shy Guy from Mario Tennis floating to get to balls. All in all, the gameplay is excellent and will have you playing this game for hours at a time and for years to come.
The graphic quality of this game is excellent. The shadows and lighting, the courts and the players are all admirably rendered. It is easy to find yourself transported to the world of the tennis professional. Beads of sweat and ball marks are just a few of the subtle touches that make this game graphically special. Player animations and ball physics are perfectly executed. From serving follow-throughs to return preparations, every professional actually plays how they do in real life. All of their techniques and idiosyncrasies have been skillfully captured and will have you thinking your part of the ATP tour.
The in-game sounds are authentically reproduced and do well to realistically capture the feel of a heated tennis match. I could do without the title track, but that's probably just a personal taste issue. The menu sounds do leave something to be desired, however. For example, selecting multiplayer game parameters is annoying. Selecting them actually sounds like you have committed an error rather than making the proper selection. The sounds just don't match up properly.