E3 2011: Virtua Tennis 4 Hands-On Preview

We check out the PlayStation Vita version of the arcade tennis game.

Even with the not-so-great reviews for Sega's fourth tennis simulation, the company that made Sonic is adamant about pushing Virtua Tennis 4 onto other platforms. We recently had a go with a version of the game tailor-made for Sony's newly named-and-priced handheld and were rather pleased with how the game took advantage of its new control scheme.

Because the PlayStation Vita has a front touch screen and rear touch pad, Sega tweaked the controls of the tennis game to make it easy to play with just a finger or two. When controlling our racket-bearing avatar (in our case, it's "Rafa" Nadal), we served the ball by just tapping on the screen once to activate the power meter and then tapped it again to swing the racket. We moved Rafa by touching and dragging him to whichever direction we wanted him to go on the court.

Different shots can be pulled off by performing different finger gestures on the touch screen. Swiping your finger up on the screen enables your character to perform a topspin shot, while swiping it downward will make him or her do a backspin shot. Swiping your finger down followed by a quick upward swipe will make your avatar perform a lob. Touching the screen with two fingers and then doing an upward swipe will make your character do a super shot as long as the meter on top is full.

The controls were great and well implemented on the new platform. While a few shots we performed did not launch the ball precisely onto certain parts of the court, the touch screen inputs were satisfactory enough to pull off a win against the AI, as well as alternate between lobs and topspin shots. Once we learned all of the required inputs within less than five minutes, we got the hang of things. Of course, core gamers who would much rather have tactile feedback for controls can just use the PlayStation Vita's D pad, analog sticks, and face buttons.

Other additions to this version of Virtua Tennis 4 include 10 new minigames that will take advantage of the console's touch screen and Sixaxis motion-sensing system. Network features include the ability to download a player's ghost data and compete against it in various modes, in addition to playing with random strangers or friends online.

There is no set date for the game at this point in time. However, a Sega representative said that the game will be a launch title for the PlayStation Vita.

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