Tennis with Zombies

Tonight we finally got around to playing Sega Virtua Tennis on the PS3. It is really fun. We started off playing singles, but after number one son had beaten me a couple of times I figured it was time to move on. So we had a go at doubles. We squared off against a couple of computer controlled players who wiped the floor with us. So, in an attempt to make our game easier, we turned one of the computer players into a girl and tried again. And they wiped the floor with us once more.

The game is tough. Getting the ball back over the net is not that hard. Getting it back in such a way that your computer controlled (or otherwise) opponent can't then immediately smash it past you is a bit more tricky.

I was especially interested in the graphics of the game. It is one of the few that runs in the highest resolution mode that the PS3 supports. And it looks jolly good. The various locations are rendered with loving care, and the crowd looks amazing, with hundreds of individually animated people watching intently as you blast the ball out of the back of the court.

The only real problem I've noticed is that the players, although wonderfully rendered and with fantastic motion capture, have a strange, unearthly pallor which makes them look to me a bit like the undead. Not that I've seen many undead up close you understand, but I've watched a lot of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, if that counts.

I know that drawing people is really hard, and that this is state of the art. I've noticed a similar effect in other computer generated content that tries to depict real people and I'm not sure what can be done about it. To my mind the simple cartoon graphic faces of the players in the Tennis game in Wii Sports look more "human" than the beautifully drawn players in this game.

What I really want I suppose is a game with the depth and visuals that Sega has, but with the warmth, character and easy controls that Wii Tennis gives you.  But in the meantime, I think that Sega Tennis is going to provide quite a bit of fun.