If you've played the previous Dreamcast and PS2 versions of the game, imagine those with a little more horsepower in the graphics department. The graphics look sharp and the courts are nicely detailed. The animation transitions for all the various shots are fluid and realistic. We also noticed that the players' facial expressions change as they're making powerful shots. There wasn't much going on courtside, but we did notice that spectators were moving their heads and hands, and that the shadows cast by the players in the sun deepened as the match went on.
The game plays like most tennis games seem to... one player stands near-court at the bottom of the screen, while the other player stands far-court up top. You can tap the shot button to serve the ball, and then you have to move the player around in order to return shots.
We played a couple matches and were mostly pleased. The X and square buttons control lob and slice shots, and you can perform smashes, drop shots, and other cool returns by pressing and releasing the buttons. The game pre-loads shots, which means that your player will automatically lunge in the appropriate direction and swing once you release the button.
When all is said and done, Virtua Tennis: World Tour will include a number of different mini-games and a roster of both fictional and actual players. The Sega rep here at the show couldn't comment on how many players will be included, but she did say that Andy Roddick is a definite.
5/20/2005 Frank Provo