A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that there is no controversial content in this "E"-rated tennis game. And don't worry about foul language -- John McEnroe isn't a playable character! This is a game that can be enjoyed by the entire family, regardless of skill level, age, or gender. Parents of young kids playing on the Xbox 360 will want to pay attention to the online aspect of multiplayer gaming; Common Sense Media does not recommend online play for anyone under age 12.
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What's it about?
From the main menu of VIRTUA TENNIS 3, players choose from a number of game modes: World Tour, Tournament, Exhibition, Court Games, and a tutorial mode. The World Tour mode lets players select among hundreds of options for facial features and color, hair, height, weight, racket color, uniform, and even play style (left- or right-handed, backhand, and posture). As you win matches and master your volleys and footwork, you can earn apparel and equipment and unlock other goodies.
You use the left analog stick to move the player around the court, anticipating where the ball will land and pressing a button for the desired shot: A for topspin, B or X for a defensive slice, or Y for a lob shot. After pressing the shot button, use the left stick again to determine the shot's direction. You can give instructions to your computer-controlled doubles partner with one of the four buttons on the shoulders of the Xbox 360 controller.
Is it any good?
In the Xbox 360 version, you can engage in online matches with up to eight friends in cyberspace (via Xbox Live; $49.99 a year), but this option is curiously absent from the PlayStation 3 version. The PS3 version, however, offers "true" high-definition graphics (1080p support), though the Xbox 360 looks about as good. Both games offer near photorealistic visuals with incredibly detailed players and courts, authentic "camera" angles, and ultra-fluid animation -- passersby might think it's a televised match.
The game contains 25 courts (grass, carpet, clay, or hard), in countries including the U.S., France, England, Australia, Argentina, Canada, and Japan. It features 20 tennis stars, including Roger Federer, Amelie Mauresmo, Andy Roddick, Tommy Haas, Venus Williams and Maria Sharapova. There's a lot to love about Virtua Tennis 3 -- Sega has served up a gorgeous and challenging tennis game with plenty of modes and customizability.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what makes a sports game good. Is it the ability to play against the pros, or is playing against your friends and family more important? If the whole family plays together, who was the last holdout to join in and why? Who was the most competitive, and did he or she win more often?