|System: Xbox 360, PS3, Wii|
|Release: May 10, 2011|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||Comic Mischief|
Multiplayer has a very limited selection, but it's still enjoyable to find quick matches with strangers. You're basically confined to ranked exhibition matches, trying to climb up the leaderboard by performing well. You can join up with friends in the clubhouse for more games, but that's pretty much where the multiplayer feature ends. With a good connection, the matches have a nice pace, but the game is still marred by the simple controls and ease of returning the ball, making strategy, even against a human opponent, almost a moot point.
Virtua Tennis 4 is a mixed bag of graphical niceties and odd choices. The shading is excellent, and there's good use of bold colors. The watercolor introduction cinematics, complete with actual character imaging, do a good job representing the game. The matches are where you'll find some disjointedness. The details and textures are definitely a big step up from previous games, but the character models could have been better. Getting a close look during replays, some faces are accurately rendered, while others don't even look close. Sharapova, in particular (whom they also did a poor job on in Virtua Tennis 3), looks way off. Of course, as with all tennis games, the hair is the critical part to get right, and Sega nailed the bobbing and flowing animations perfectly. Visually, the biggest head-scratcher is the facial sweat. While good body sweat shows with drenched clothing clinging to the body, the obscenely large, white—yeah, white—beads of sweat on the characters' faces give the appearance that their skin is melting away. The audience animations, which often cheapen the look of tennis games, are presented fairly well. However, with a palette that is far too selective between venues, things tend to look a little sterile.
Unlike the graphics, which have good and bad points, the music and sound must settle for mediocre and bad respectively. The music, while far from irritating, has no cohesive style. It seems to jump from trance to elevator music to Japanese-inspired pop. The sound effects are where Sega really slacked off. The player grunts are limited and only rarely match the actual grunts some of the pros make. Boring ball-hitting sounds and a lack of shoe squeaks suggest that very little effort was put into the audio. Even distancing was neglected, as the grunts from the player on the far side of the court resound equally if not more so than those from the player closest to the screen.
Sega had an opportunity to embrace an unorthodox approach to tennis. Virtua Tennis 4 could have been full of unexpected surprises which, although breaking away from realism, would have offered something different. While they may tout Virtua Tennis as an alternative to the simulation formula, all this game offers is an odd career mode and only a handful of pros and minigames to choose from.
CCC Contributing Writer