To climb to the top of the tennis ranks in real life, you need to be a world-class athlete, put in countless hours perfecting your craft, and have an innate talent to hit a felt-covered ball extremely hard. In Virtua Tennis 2009, you just need stubborn determination. The only skill that will be put to the test in Sega's latest entry in its long-running tennis franchise is persistence. It will take more than 10 hours in World Tour mode before you face a competent opponent, which means it's harder to stay awake during matches than to win them. The core mechanics are well done, letting you easily hit the ball anywhere on the court, but the game is so devoid of life and is so insultingly easy that it can never capture the thrill of victory.
6212443>It's like picking on babies.>None
Virtua Tennis 2009 eschews an in-depth tutorial, but the mechanics are so easy to pick up that it hardly matters. After just a few minutes with the game, you'll easily be slapping shots all over the court, volleying with precision, nailing difficult cross-court shots, and doing a very good impression of a tennis marvel. You can smoothly glide across the court, getting in optimal position for a powerful return shot or rushing the net to keep your opponent constantly off balance. You won't break a sweat mastering Virtua Tennis because your move set is so limited. There are only three types of shots--top spin, lob, and slice--so the focus is on positioning rather than juggling between different special shots or worrying about your fatigue meter dropping.
However, after spending a few hours on the court, the problems become apparent. The game is far too forgiving, so you don't have to worry about crushing the ball out of bounds or slamming it into the net. As long as you can make contact, you are almost assured of getting the ball in play. The animations are also inconsistent. Although serving the ball or swinging your backhand looks fine, whenever you do something slightly abnormal, the game doesn't feel right. For example, when you run backward, your character never looks toward the ball, which makes return shots awkward, and you have a tendency to hit a stumbling shot even when the ball is in easy reach. None of these quirks by themselves kill the fun, but when combined, they make the action feel unrealistic.
The main draw in Virtua Tennis is the World Tour mode, but like the on-court action, what initially feels like a robust experience quickly devolves into frustration. You start as the 100th-ranked amateur in the world and must win tournaments around the globe to earn some credentials. Winning a tournament has you rise one to five spots in the rankings, so it will take quite a few matches before you get to the top. However, while it should be a thrill to finally prove your worth, it turns out to be a seemingly never-ending drag. Virtua Tennis is just too darn easy, so you can blow past your embarrassingly awful opponents, rarely losing a point, let alone an entire game. But you have to play through dozens of these tournaments to finally achieve pro status, which takes more than 10 hours of beating on helpless opponents. With no difficulty switch to toggle, you're stuck playing against these incompetent buffoons for hours on end, which makes for a tedious experience.