to join the Xbox community. Not a member yet? Join now!

Virtua Tennis 2009

Sega's long-running tennis series serves up another ace!

It's hard not to be churlish about being told what to do by Tim Henman. No chance we could be coached by someone who's actually won something, is there?

Still, someone needs to put rookies through their paces in this latest instalment of Sega's beloved arcade tennis series.

The formula's largely unchanged from 2006's solid VT3 - an easy-to-learn, difficult-to-master philosophy rather than any pretence of genuine simulation.

With controls that feel as natural as stroking a cat, this is tennis as pure, heroic joy. As such, it's a party game more than anything else, though the addition of a persistent online leaderboard will encourage more disciplined play and add a little more meaning to competition with friends.


The major changes come from aesthetic jiggery-pokery. Zooming 3D letters and excessive HDR lighting abounds, though sadly, this seems at the expense of the freakish character models. Still, avoid the glassy faces and the on-court animations are superb.

Mercifully, VT3's tumble on a missed return (that often cost you the game) has been replaced with a clumsy stumble that only slows you down - affording an aware opponent an opportunity, but not handing it to them on a plate. It's better both for the game's general flow, and for epic comebacks.

Unfortunately, it's a slightly unsatisfying single-player game, due to the bland presentation and horrific loading times between every menu as well as every game.

There's a bunch of insane mini-games, including Breakout on a tennis court, smacking cannonballs back at pirate ships and an absurd shopping trolley dash - but though they're a great bite-sized giggle, the loading is often longer than the time it takes to play them.

Oh, and the endlessly looping soundtrack is an abomination - toothless rock that sounds like it came from some long-cancelled American sitcom written by the brother of a guy who knew someone who produced four episodes of Friends.

VT has always been a party game, and it pulls that off well enough to excuse the rough edges. If the more technical Top Spin 3 is posh dinner in polite company, this is a pie and a pint with friends - a little boisterous, maybe, but you don't need etiquette to have a good time.

The verdict

Maximum tennis fun, this is love-all

  • Smooth, sensual controls. Mmm...
  • Online leaderboards add purpose
  • Hilariously stupid mini-games
  • Disturbing character models
  • Torturous loading times
Xbox 360