Virtua Tennis made its mark years ago back on the Sega Dreamcast, and not a lot has changed since with the arcadey graphics and simplistic pick-up-and-play gaming at the heart of it - all of which is good news as the Dreamcast version was an absolute stunner, and the PSP version just goes to prove it.
Anyone who has experienced Virtua Tennis on other formats will already know what to expect with World Tour, and everything is present and correct as if it were the same game, with both training modes and full tournament matches. Where changes are obvious however is that players have been updated to include current tennis stars such as Roddick, Federer, Henman, Sharapova and Williams to name just a few.
When you start off your player has pretty few skills, and needs to be trained up before they'll even have much of a chance of improving their ranking, so it's well worth spending some time in the single player ball games before starting the World Tour mode, which itself features more training sessions which help you improve your serving, volley, footwork and other on-court abilities.
It's only as you start to make your way around the world that you realise quite how much gameplay there is on offer, and it takes an impressively long time to work your way through the tournaments, changing from clay courts to grass, and even on carpet at indoor stadiums - each of which feel different and see both your player and the ball reacting differently just like you'd find in real life.
A choice of single and doubles matches also helps to introduce some variation to the gameplay, and at various stages in your tour around the globe you'll find yourself having to take part in doubles matches with a partner of your choosing, meaning a whole new set of skills and techniques are required.
PSP's built-in wireless networking gives you the ability to play against other human players (assuming you've got three friends who have also got a PSP and Virtua Tennis World Tour) with games able to be played in either singles or doubles format depending on how many human opponents are wanting to compete with each other - adding yet further to the enjoyment, and giving a change to the fairly devious AI characters.
The only real annoyance that is obvious in Virtua Tennis World Tour is the momentary pauses whilst data loads from the UMD, and it seems to happen at times when you'd not really expect it, such as moving through menus and also navigating the world tour map. More annoyingly you'll also find a split-second pause as the audio streams after each and every point - it doesn't make the gameplay suffer as such, but it's just annoying and isn't something we've noticed from other PSP titles.
Virtua Tennis World Tour is clearly one of the best PSP titles we've experienced so far, and offers an ideal mix of long-term gaming where you can spend a couple of hours working your way up the rankings, alongside simply having a couple of minutes of action whilst on-the-go by improving your player stats or having a quick match against the tricky AI.Overall score: 9 out of 10
Recommended Price: £34.99
Available: NowBuy Virtua Tennis World Tour for the PlayStation Portable from Amazon