We had to pinch ourselves to check we were awake.

One moment we were playing Sega's latest tennis gem, the next our virtual tennis player was running around the court hatching chicks from eggs and leading them to a giant mother hen while machines spat chick-squishing tennis balls at them.

The strangest thing of all was that rather than being some weird cheese-induced dream this chick-saving mini-game was an actual part of Virtua Tennis 4.

As a tennis game Virtua Tennis 4 is superb. Its matches are tense and breezy, and it has none of the stat clutter you get in other sports games. Few sport games capture the excitement of their real-life counterpoints this well.

But where an EA Sports title would provide a straight-laced career mode, Virtua Tennis 4's World Tour mode is a bizarre board game.

You move from square to square on your way to major tournaments, passing the time with oddball mini-games, stays at hotels, appearances at charity events and the occasional game of tennis.

At first it's a disconcerting departure from expectation, but once the initial surprise fades the World Tour turns out to be fun if rather silly.

This mix of pitch-perfect tennis and surreal career mode action will be familiar to fans of previous Virtua Tennis games, however.

For long-term fans the big addition this time is support for Kinect and PlayStation Move (and 3D if you've got the appropriate telly).

But be warned that the use of Kinect and Move is limited to a single mode rather than being available throughout and in both cases the standard controller remains the superior way to enjoy the game by some way.

Stuff says... 

Virtua Tennis 4 review

Pitch-perfect tennis, as long as you're not expecting the motion controls to play a big part