Back in the day when the Dreamcast console had a future Sega released a gem of a game called Virtua Tennis. Even if you weren't much of a fan of the sport Virtua Tennis managed to get many gamers addicted with its sharp graphics and smooth game play. Since then however the Dreamcast has met its productive end and this has only meant good fortune for PS2 owners as Sega have decided to concentrate on games rather than take another venture into the console market. One of Sega's games to find its way onto the PS2 is the follow up to Virtua Tennis, the highly originally titled Virtua Tennis 2.
Having only really played Virtua Tennis a few times on the Dreamcast I wasn't really sure what to expect from the follow up. Not being a big fan of tennis myself, my interest stretches no further than Wimbledon; I didn't know whether Virtua Tennis 2 would be a game that would hold my attention for very long. However any doubt of that way was put away when i played my first match. The game gives you three separate options of play, you can go one on one with the computer or a friend in match mode, fight your way through a tournament or go for the main part of the game and progress through a World Tour. It is better to ease yourself into the game by playing a couple of matches before going into the World Tour, just to give yourself a feel of the game.
The World Tour allows you to take control of two players, on male player and one female, and build up their reputation during the course of a season. You can compete in tournaments to increase your prize money and there are different trials to increase your players' skill. When beginning the World Tour you have to create each of your characters, this is a nice little touch as you can change practically anything you wish to about your players. You can decide on their hair style and colour, their faces, what style and colour their shirts and shorts are, you can even decide what colour their tennis racket is going to be.
Once this is done you then decide which nationality your players' are going to be by choosing which country their home is going to be based in. The home is used to give you information about the two players you are controlling, you can go here to check on the players' ability, look at the different gear that they have and even decide to take a weeks rest if you feel that one of your players stamina is a little bit low. When you have placed the home on the global map you are ready to begin getting your players into shape and entering them into tournaments.
At the beginning of each month you are presented with a calendar that gives you the dates of any forthcoming tournaments, you can access this calendar any time you wish during the game by pressing the start button. It depends on the level of your players' ability as to whether they can enter a tournament or not, if you player is below the ranking that is required by the tournament then they may not enter, your player's ranking is located at the top right hand corner of the screen with their name and stamina level, you will begin with the male character first, you can change between the two by pressing R1. It is possible to play the World Tour by concentrating on one of your players because you do not have to enter a tournament and therefore can leave the other player to rot if you wish to do so and build a champion out of the other.
In between tournaments you can build on your player's ability by entering one of the eight different tasks. These tasks build up your serve, footwork, stroke or volleying and allow you to gain a higher level of ranking and a better chance of entering a lucrative tournament with a big cash prize. The tasks are mainly fun based, you can build up your serve by playing a ten-pin bowling tennis game or build up your stroke in Tank Attack where you batter a tank into submission with tennis balls. This is a fun part of the game to begin with but can become frustrating when the novelty wears off and all you want to do is enter tournaments and start to build up your player's cash.
The tournaments themselves are the most exciting part of the game and test your player's abilities that they have gained during the different tasks. They crop up during the calendar year and depending on your players' ranking you can enter them and play against some of the real life tennis stars in the game. This was one disappointing feature I found about Virtua Tennis 2, there are players like Tim Henman and Venus Williams in there but it was sad to see the likes of 'Pistol' Pete Sampras were not included in the game. When first beginning the World Tour part of the game you will find that you are limited to small tournaments that pay little in reward of prize money because you player is not deemed up to the task of higher ranking tournaments. There are also double tournaments available but to enter these you have to secure a contract with a computer controlled tennis player at the Caribou tennis shop, you can also by tennis rackets etc. from here as well.
The graphics in Virtua Tennis 2 are superb. Whether you are playing on a grass, clay or sand courts each are surrounded by a full stadium with a well animated crowd. The players' movements are very realistic and smooth; you feel like you have full control and the racket hits the ball perfectly every time. The controls are very simple so you find yourself getting into the game very quickly. Real life players also look very much like their real life counterparts and this just adds to the whole feel of the game.