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Thursday, June 07, 2007

PSP - Virtua Tennis 3 - Review & First Impressions

Virtua Tennis 3 for the Playstation Portable (PSP) is an entertaining game. Given the recent string of travels I have been on, I picked up a couple of new games for my PSP to keep me entertained during the flights. (You know, there is a limit to the number of blog posts you can right 36,000 miles in the air – in fact, over St. Louis right now) I have always been a fan of tennis and at some point aspire to actually play a couple of rounds with reasonable skill.

Virtua Tennis 3, as a game for the PSP is relatively reasonable game. It is a game that provides a decent level of fun, mixed with some of today’s stars from the world of Tennis. The skills games, that work to increase your abilities, are providing some good fun and entertainment. However, they quickly become somewhat repetitious – and just completing them once does not provide the maximum skills for that training. Completing it successfully an undisclosed number of times continuous to add to your skills – which makes things that much more confusing.

Perhaps the biggest pain of the game is how long everything takes to load. With the game requiring 15-20 different skill tests to increase your Tennis abilities, it just makes matters worse. It seems the majority of time is spent waiting for the game to load rather than playing, which is never a good sign. Too bad most of the basic items could not be loaded into memory to make the play much more consistent and faster.

As you start playing, your ranking starts at 300 and the sets are best of 3 games – making for quick advancement. As you improve and your ranking goes below to 100 – the difficulty increases, which makes good sense. An additional twist is that in the tournaments for rankings at 100 and lower, the length of the sets are increased to a best of 7 games – the first to 4 game wins captures that match.

My current ranking is around 95 and I still have a ways to go to get close to any of the major championships in Virtua Tennis. One oddity that I noticed is that when I hit right around the 100 mark in ranking, my performance in the doubles matches went to dreadful. My serves are like lobs, even when max power is hit and the play at the net and from the baseline is lethargic at best. Interestingly, this behavior does not translate to the singles matches.

I will continue to sporadically play Virtua Tennis 3 for the PSP. While it is not one of my favorite games, it does provide some entertainment as well as a good level of difficulty. If only they could fix the loading problem.