First things first, this is an arcade game. There's no ifs, ands or buts about it - Virtua Tennis 4: World Tour Edition is a game that is intended to be picked up and played with immediate accessibility, and given the fact that it's a portable title, it's all the better for it.
Visually, VT4: WTE is a stunner. Despite the fact that it's running on a handheld system, it looks absolutely gorgeous from start to finish. The character models are flawlessly rendered, and player animations are up there with anything we've ever seen on a home console. Colours are bright and vibrant, making excellent use of the Vita's OLED screen and, perhaps most importantly of all, the game runs without dropping so much as a frame during play.
In terms of what's offered from the game's play modes, there's certainly enough here to keep players of all interest levels happy. If you're planning on really getting stuck in, then the World Tour mode is the one for you. Here you'll be able to create your own player based on a pre-existing character model, with the option of taking a photograph of yourself and placing it onto your character, creating the novel experience of genuinely being part of the game.
The main reason I love it, however, is the fact that it plays like an absolute dream. With relatively straightforward controls meaning that you're left to worry about your on the court performance rather than contorting your fingers, it really is a joy to play. No matter what play mode you opt for, there's always something new to see or do, and lessons to be learned.
Aside from the World Tour mode, you can also take on a series of different single player modes, such as the obligatory Arcade Mode, as well as all the usual online modes (which play perfectly over WiFi), and the impressive new Vita exclusive play modes. While I'll be the first to admit that these modes are more gimmicky than anything else, there's a lot of fun to be had with them - if only for their innovative use of the Vita's technology. For example, you can play a match in first person perspective, where moving the Vita around will let you look around your in-game surroundings. It's a really novel experience and, somewhat surprisingly, it's one that works really well when it comes to actually playing, even if you will spend most of your time moving the Vita around in your hands.
Another innovative game mode is the two player tabletop tennis offering, where you and a friend can take each other on using a single Vita. The court is viewed from a top down perspective, and you control your player's movements by dragging your finger around the court. You hit the ball by flicking in the direction you want to hit it in a timely manner. It's simple and it works. Arguably it's the most enjoyable feature to use in order to show your Vita off to jealous friends!
Ultimately, if Virtua Tennis 4: World Tour Edition was a PS3 or Xbox 360 game, it would probably feel a little hackneyed due to its somewhat dated control scheme and it's arcade persuasions, but the fact is that it lends itself superbly to the portable nature of the Vita. It's made for being picked up and played in short bursts with friends or alone, and that's really what handheld games are all about. If you want something with a more serious tone, or that has more depth and difficulty, then this might not be for you, but when it comes to Vita launch titles, this is right up there with the very best.