A few weeks ago, I reviewed Top Spin 4 from a fitness perpective. Specifically, I mentioned that as a tennis simulation, it was fantastic and a great game for tennis fans who want to use a Dualshock to play simulated matches. On the other hand, the Move capabilities were not earth-shattering. It just didn’t feel like real tennis.
Today, I’m reviewing Virtua Tennis 4, which is fitting as the US Open is going on right now as I write this. In many ways, Virtua Tennis 4 is the polar opposite of Top Spin 4. While Top Spin 4 focused on an accurate simulation of tennis and its players and stadiums (right down to the swings and the grunts of the players and paying for licensing of the names of the tournaments), Virtua Tennis doesn’t go into as much detail in that regard. On the other hand, Top Spin 4 (as its predecessors were) is a great “arcade style” tennis game. And its implementation of the Move controller make IT the reigning champion as far as a realistic-feeling tennis game for the PS3.
Using the Move controllers to control your tennis racket is remarkably realistic. Unlike Top Spin 4, you can control most strokes with the controller itself, not by mashing buttons. A slice is a slice, top spin is top spin, and a lob is a lob. To approach the net, you take a step forward. To serve, you swing the controller up and then down.
While Top Spin 4 had a “TV camera perspective” view, Virtua Tennis lets you see the play from the player’s perspective. As in real tennis, you need to hit shots when they’re about waist-high, and you can do so with heavy or light force. I guess it would have been a lot more of a workout if any running had been involved, but the system does all the running for you. Still, at higher difficulty levels, you’re going to be doing a lot of arm movement. After playing through several times, I was actually working up a little sweat.
The biggest problem with this game is that the Move can only be used in a tiny portion of the game, namely the Motion Play Mode. You can’t use Move controllers in the rest of the game, including the main “Tournament Mode” portion. My guess is that the developers didn’t know about the Move until they were already well into development, and so they only had time to fit it into a small part of the game.
This is a demo match I played between Federer and Nadal on “Easy” difficulty (you can download and play the same demo in the Playstation Store).
Overall, I’d rate this game a 3.5 out of 5 stars. Don’t get me wrong–the Move functionality is the best I’ve seen for a Tennis game on any system. But you’ll be disappointed if you pay the retail price of $49.99 for this “Playstation Move compatible” game only to find that you can only use the Move on 10% of the game. I hope for Sega’s sake that they’re working on a fully Move compatible Virtual Tennis 5 right now. As far as this one, if you’re a big tennis fan, I’d say it’s worth it once the price drops below $20.
If you’re in the market for an extra move controller, they’re available for $34 at Amazon right now, which is the lowest price I’ve seen yet. It may be that they’re looking to clear some of their inventory.
It’s a good time to get a second Move controller for two-hand or two-player gaming. But hurry, Amazon tends to raise the price without warning.
Well, it took them long enough, but it looks like Sony is officially throwing its hat into the fitness gaming arena with “Move Fitness”. They announced it at the recent GamesCon conference. Here’s the official trailer.
Right now, it looks like the game is going to be largely derivative of previous games available on the Wii. From the video, it looks like everything from using basketball simulations to encourage squat jumps, jumping jacks, sparring, heavy bag punching, and sword fighting will be included (things we’ve seen already in EA Sports Active 2, UFC Fitness Trainer, Gold’s Gym Cardio Workout, Wii Fit, and Wii Sports Resort). It looks like there are a few things that will be original (the exercise with the lady breaking the glass windows looks promising).
While such obviously derivative games are usually not destined to do well, I think Move Fitness will have a few things going for it. First, it’ll use the resources of Sony to ensure that the Move Controller accuracy is spot-on (as much as I enjoy EA Sports Active 2 for the PS3, at the end it feels like a direct port of the Wii version, rather than something that really uses the Move to take it to new heights). For example, using brightly lit “targets” to hit when doing jumping jacks and jump squats looks like a promising way to discourage “cheating” (which is easy to do on both the Wii and Xbox). Second, since the title is by Sony, it’s going to have a very high quality standard to meet.
Anyway, I’ll post more here when the release date is set, and when it’s ready for pre-order.
With the introduction of 3D gaming and the Sony Move Wii-like motion controllers, 2010 looks to be the year that the Sony Playstation 3 takes video games to the next level. Stay tuned to this blog for the latest news and game reviews of the Sony Move and new games as they come out!