Hands-on with Virtua Tennis 4: World Tour Edition on PS Vita

Sega is looking to score an with ace its first service on Vita

Hands-on with Virtua Tennis 4: World Tour Edition on PS Vita

No console launch line-up is complete without a few sports titles, and the PlayStation Vita’s line-up is no exception.

Amongst the early contenders for handheld glory is Virtua Tennis 4: World Tour Edition, the first tennis title to be served up on Sony’s incoming handheld.

Rather than knocking out a stripped-down companion piece to the console version, Sega has set out to ensure VT4: WTE is a fully-featured standalone title. This incarnation promises the full console experience, as well as a few neat tricks and socially slanted extras to generate a little love from early Vita adopters.

Your favourite players are present, of course. Djokovic, Nadal, and Ivanovic feature amongst a roster of 22 tennis icons, competing on 33 courts around the world.

The new World Tour Map gives you a structured path through the various international stages – including a bonus season exclusive to the Vita - while the return of Exhibition mode offers a quick, arcade-style fix of cross-court action.

Advantage Vita

Where the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions added motion control support, VT3: WTE makes full use of the Vita’s varied control methods, presenting a kind of ‘mix and match’ approach to play.

For example, if you're a traditionalist you can opt to use the analogue sticks and face buttons for the entire duration of the World Tour.

These controls are immediately familiar to anyone who has touched a Virtua Tennis game in the past ten years, and the Vita’s thumbsticks do a great job of recreating the trademark feel of the franchise.

Alternatively, you can control the game exclusively using the front touchscreen. By letting you tap the screen to direct your player, and then swipe your finger to input the speed, spin, and angle of your stroke, the game becomes a completely different beast.

This style of play will take a little getting used to, with accurate ball placement a bit of a chore at first, but persevere a little and your taps and swipes begin to fall into a satisfying rhythm.

You can even merge the two playing styles, assigning movement to the analogue stick and handling the racquet with the touchscreen, or vice-versa. There's no need to tinker with the settings menu – just try out a few combinations and adapt your game on the fly.

Break point

On the social side of things, VT4: WTE lets you compete with other players locally, over a network, and even on the same unit.

Touch VS invites two players to grab an analogue stick each (or ready their tapping fingers) to compete in a top-down match that harks back to the genre’s monochromatic progenitor, Pong. This mode is most enjoyable in conjunction with the touchscreen, which adds an organic immediacy to the frantic rallies.

Sega has also included VT Apps, a collection of mini-games designed to exploit the Vita’s multiple interfaces.

Rock the Boat requires you to take potshots at targets attached to the side of a wooden galleon, tilting the Vita to move the ship into the path of the ball.

VR Mode provides a first-person view that responds to the system’s motion sensors, letting you utilise the console as a virtual periscope while you wind up the analogue stick for a backhand.

You can even use the Vita’s front camera to graft your face onto a custom avatar, putting you right in the middle of the action.

Arriving alongside the Vita on February 22nd, 2012, Virtual Tennis: World Tour Edition is shaping up to be an attractive and versatile addition to the handheld’s impressive list of launch titles. Keep your eye on the ball for Pocket Gamer's review in the new year.

James Gilmour
James Gilmour
James pivoted to video so hard that he permanently damaged his spine, which now doubles as a Cronenbergian mic stand. If the pictures are moving, he's the one to blame.