Your fingers could give you the edge that separates the great from the good in Virtua Tennis 4: World Tour on PS Vita. By sliding your finger across the touchscreen, you will set the power and direction of your shot – watch to see where your rival is headed and try to wrong-foot them by smashing a powerful volley as close to the baseline as you dare. Hitting certain shots will fill your concentration gauge, which gives you two benefits. First, your ability to hit fast, accurate shots on the move improves once the bar passes the halfway point; second, you’ll be able to unleash an almost unstoppable Super Shot when the meter is filled by sliding two fingers across the touchscreen.
Virtua Tennis has been a favorite of multiplayer fans ever since it launched on the Dreamcast more than a decade ago. Since then it has been ported, updated and released on multiple consoles under multiple names. However, despite attempts to freshen things up, this solid iteration of the game ends up being just that: a solid iteration of a game that we have all played before.
As Sega's first PS Vita title, Virtua Tennis 4: World Tour Edition translates to the small screen admirably. While Virtua Tennis's main competitor, Top Spin, has always attempted to make a more realistic Tennis Sim, Virtua Tennis goes for a more arcade-y feel, allowing players to instantly pick up and play. This dynamic is still apparent in Virtua Tennis 4 and the game is better for it. Players are able to concentrate only on getting to the ball on time, hitting it and setting themselves up for the return volley. This is perfect for smaller screens and playing in small bursts, making it ideal for gaming on the go.
As always in the Virtua Tennis series the controls are quick and responsive. You will lose and it will be frustrating at times (as any good tennis game should be) but it will be because of your own failings and not because of any fault of the controls. The graphics are sharp and crisp and the animations look great on the Vita's screen. Additionally, each opponent feels completely unique, requiring different strategies to beat each one.
As has been tradition since Virtua Tennis 2, this game comes with wacky mini games and a career mode. The career mode is a little frustrating, in an attempt to improve the replay value SEGA decided to make the career mode a zany but more importantly random board game. The frustration factors in when a certain tournament or event is missed because you rolled over it. A more streamlined version with more player-choice would have been preferable. The mini-games are as crazy as ever and range from hitting targets, to hitting a soccer ball pass a goalie, to collecting and leading chicks to their hen house without getting hit by a red ball.
Additionally, some modes have been added exclusively for this Vita version. Players can take a picture of their own face with the PS Vita camera and then convert that into their own created character for the World Tour mode. More interestingly two players can play on one screen using the touchscreen, although more of a novelty, it can be used to kill some time and is a nice addition. The real multiplayer is the online or Vita to Vita version and it works fine, although more variety and options for tournaments would have been nice. Players are also given a few new control schemes, the traditional control scheme, a touchscreen version and a hybrid version that utilizes one stick and touchscreen buttons.
Virtua Tennis 4: World Tour Edition is a solid version of a solid series, this is probably the definitive version of Tennis available on any mobile platform. However, for veterans of the series the gameplay elements might be getting a tad stale.