Bar these changes, there's little new to get excited about. There are loads of new courts. There's a new roster, which includes Andy “laid back” Murray, Roger “not as good as he used to be” Federer, Rafael “veiny guns” Nadal and Maria “legs” Sharapova. The World Tour plays out like it did before, with created players (via a more robust player creation tool) rising up the ranks towards world number one by winning tournaments. As before money earned can be spent on new gear from the shop. And, as before, you can make your player look like one hell of a tit, which you'll probably do, just because you can. Abilities are raised by playing the 12 mini-games, a Virtua Tennis trademark. Five are completely new, the best of which is undoubtedly Pot Shot, a nine ball mini-game that sees you serve the cue ball from the bottom of the screen onto an American pool table.
Adding a dash of variety to the World Tour is middle-class darling and ex-British number one Tim Henman, who pops up as your personal trainer, setting you loads of challenges that can be completed to help improve your player's abilities. Stuff like hit three backhand winners, or three drop shots, that sort of thing.
Still, Tiger Tim can't help save the World Tour from being a monotonous, dreary affair when played against the AI. Experienced VT players won't encounter anything remotely like a challenge until they break into the top ten. To get to that point, though, it's sports game grinding at its most mind-numbing. Play a tournament, win every game to love, raise a couple of places in the rankings, rinse and repeat. Snore. The computer really is so easy you’d have to be a comatose, armless baboon not to win.
While Virtua Tennis 2009 on Wii looks a little rough compared to the next-gen versions, many will prefer it to the cartoony appearance of Grand Slam Tennis. The players are all recognisable and the courts are nicely detailed, with the only big letdown being the occasionally jumpy frame rate. The Wii might be able to do better, but we're just glad that SEGA has managed to make a Wii version of a multi-format game that doesn't look like it was created in an afternoon.
Despite the fact that all the evidence suggests Virtua Tennis is a series stuck in a rut, Virtua Tennis 2009 is still great fun and this Wii version feels different enough that it'll be worth a shot for many. The original 1999 Virtua Tennis engine is so good that it provides, even a decade later, one of the most compelling multiplayer experiences not just in sports games, but in all games. If you want a more realistic tennis experience, and better MotionPlus controls, go for Grand Slam Tennis, but SEGA's game is unlikely to disappoint the majority.