After a return to form for Sega’s Virtua Tennis 4, EA really have their work cut out for them if they want to take on the champ. In typical EA fashion, they’ve chucked a horde of player and tournament licenses and right analogue stick controls at the game in an attempt to dazzle us.
The first impression as I fired up the game was the usual disappointment with the menus that are the same clunky, basic ugly boxes we’ve seen FIFA drowning in for years. Yes, all the options you want are there, but why does every EA Sports game have to look the same?
EA’s new gimmick today is the Total Racquet Control system that allows players to use the right analogue stick for hitting the ball instead of face buttons. Don’t panic, there is a button setup too and you can even use both setups on the fly mid-match without dipping into the dozy menus.
At first, I found the analogue controls to be quite fun, with their intuitive setup involving flicking the stick in the direction I wanted the ball to travel with other shot types available by pulling back on the stick first or and using the shoulder buttons as modifiers. However, as I was making my way through the lengthy tutorials I found it very difficult to aim at some of the scoring tiles. After getting quite annoyed with this I reverted back to the soothing familiarity of the digital controls. Occasionally, I’d go back for an analogue serve as the backwards/forwards rocking motion feels pretty good if you’re not trying anything fancy.
Overall though, it’s all about the buttons. Flat, slice, and topspin shots are on the face buttons while L2 and R2 act as modifiers for lobs or drop shots respectively. Compared to VT4’s simple three button setup, the pad mapping can seem a little unwieldy, but it all gels soon enough. I’d even go as far as to say that I think EA have come out on top with one shot type; the drop shot. The narrow angles and severity of these shots surpass any other tennis game on the market and can be used consistently to crush the opposition in ways that never cease to look arrogantly cool.