IGN Review of Virtua Tennis 2009
I wasn't happy with Virtua Tennis 2009 on Xbox 360 and PS3. The play mechanics for those versions are identical from what we've been seeing since the Dreamcast, as is the general game design. In my mind, that's unacceptable. Luckily the Wii version has the benefit of implementing motion control which intrinsically changes the Virtua Tennis formula. Add Wii MotionPlus to the equation and the game changes even further. Thankfully, the change is for the better.
The core game design is the exact same as in past and current versions of Virtua Tennis. You make a created player and then train them around the world while entering in tournaments and building their ranking. You'll participate in zany mini-games like feeding animals and collecting shopping items, train at the tennis academy, and buy items at the pro shop. You can also enter into online matches from the World Tour screen, something that's new to this year's game.
It isn't until you step onto the court that the differences of playing Virtua Tennis 2009 on Wii become apparent. If you don't have Wii MotionPlus (first of all, get it) your play experience with Virtua Tennis 2009 will be vastly different. While running around the court sans MotionPlus you'll notice a small meter that appears over your player's head before every shot. That's how you direct the ball. Stopping the streaking line on the left side of the meter by swinging the remote makes you hit it to the left side of the court and so on. It's definitely easier than Wii MotionPlus but it's also very unnatural. Thankfully it does work fairly well and provides for a bit of fun despite its unrealistic nature.
If you are lucky enough to have Wii MotionPlus connected to your Wii Remote, you'll find that playing VT 2009 is much more natural. There's no more weird meter on the screen (though you can turn it on if you want) and all you really need to do is swing in the proper manner to get the desired outcome. Granted, the learning curve is a little steep and you'll want to run through the VT Coach drills before entering into a match, but once you get the hang of it (and it'll take a while) the benefits of MotionPlus are definitely there. There are certainly moments of inaccuracies and hitting slices and drop shots is a bit of a chore, but overall MotionPlus provides an excellent way to play.
While there is the option to allow the CPU to control movement like in Wii Sports tennis, I'd recommend that you pick up the nunchuk and deal with the slightly restricting cord. When the AI takes over you'll run into issues with overrunning balls and then having to hit a backhand when you thought it was going to be a forehand. Not only that, but the animation quality degrades considerably when the CPU is allowed control.
There are also issues with animations in general gameplay thanks to the subpar framerate. Virtua Tennis 2009 isn't a very attractive game with mediocre texture work and jagged edges on every object on-screen, but when you see the players move on the court things look even worse. Balls don't always connect properly with the racquet and jittery movement constantly lessens the quality of the gameplay.
The sound is even more disappointing with little emotion coming from the crowd or the players (who are totally inaudible less some grunts) on the court. The sound of the ball slamming against your strings is decent but I'd like to hear more squeaking shoes and the sound of sliding on clay would also be nice. The music doesn't fare any better and is downright annoying most of the time.
The World Tour mode is still lacking in innovation but at least you can play online. I ran into a general lack of opponents but when I did find a challenger, lag was a bit of an issue. It wasn't quite as debilitating as the 360 or PS3 versions, but it definitely caused problems every now and again.
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