Videogames based on golf have often been viewed as, to mangle a phrase, a good walk through a virtual world spoiled. Connecting with your virtual golfers has often been as hard for gamers as understanding the sport itself. With 'Tiger Woods PGA Tour' moving to the Wii, EA has tried to make the connection by replicating the golfing action through the Wiimote.
- Great putting control
- Deep single player mode
- Great online options
- Real-time weather
- Disk golf
- Learning curve still needed for pro golfers
Tiger Woods PGA Tour 10 Review--
Videogames based on golf have often been viewed as, to mangle a phrase, a good walk through a virtual world spoiled. Connecting with your virtual golfers has often been as hard for gamers as understanding the sport itself. With Tiger Woods PGA Tour moving to the Wii, EA has tried to make the connection by replicating the golfing action through the Wii mote. Good presentation and a lofty cast of golfers can only take you so far when the controls are not up to par. But this is the year everything changes with the introduction of the Wii Motion Plus, a device aiming to put the swing back into golf.
If there was one resounding complaint about the Tiger Woods of yesteryear, it was the fact that the controls were not nearly as responsive as they should have been for this sports title. EA saw a good idea in implementing the swing mechanics into the Wii mote. But any gamer worth his swing can tell you that the Wii just doesn’t have the delicate touch you need to sink a shot. Most of your interactions boiled down to an all-or-nothing deal. You either hit your swing or fell short. For a golf game that requires you not just to hit the driving distance of every club but also every range in between, this handicaps the player into focusing on extremes rather than developing a strategy. I mean, would you play a football game where you could only throw Hail Marys?
Wii Motion Plus finally brings that delicate touch to Tiger Woods PGA Tour 10. Pull back on your mote and your virtual self takes the cue. Instead of focusing on just getting the ball there, players look at placing the ball for that next golden shot. For more experienced players, you can take the training wheels off (the All-Play mode from last year) and really try to get into the swing of things. Besides judging the course and knowing your clubs, you’ll need to hit that swing dead on. A simple twist of the wrist will send the ball into the rough. That amount of realism can be a bit too much when you do don’t have the weight of the club behind every shot. Even for the weekend golfer, there’s a learning curve behind every swing.
This isn’t real golf and it will never be real golf. You are still some guy standing in his house swinging away with a piece of plastic at a TV. But just as Rock Band doesn’t really teach you to play the guitar, Tiger Woods PGA Tour 10 focuses more on replicating the experience than getting a club in your hand. Courses, players, the atmosphere, and even the strategy behind the Scottish sport are all presented in this package. The success of the game is measured in sinking that twenty foot putt and feeling as though you’ve accomplished something great.
On the Fairway
More than just a swing sim, Tiger Woods 10 brings everything from last year with a few extras to really put you there on the green. Graphics haven’t changed all that much from the previous installment, but that doesn’t mean you should skip over the lush green fairways or the often blue horizon. The player’s animations are remarkably crisp for a Wii title. Don’t expect photorealistic Tiger Woods here. If there was a putt that came up short, it would be the fans around the course. All four of five polygons will be cheering you on as you tee off. As long as you keep your eye on the ball, you won’t notice a thing.
You’ll notice some new faces and new places this time around. Added to the rooster of courses, Tiger Woods 10 adds in seven new courses from the pristine Bethpage Black, home of this year’s U.S. Open, to the legendary Pinehurst. The Wii Weather Channel will even adjust the forecast to match the fairway because sometimes even the pros have to play in the rain. Scott Van Pelt and Kelly Tilghman give their color commentary and this time you might even want to listen. Every hole is presented with an overview of tips and tactics for those unfamiliar with the green. The game’s display can even be customized on the fly to give you as much or as little information as you need as you practice your swing. And if all else fails, you can simply save at any point of a tournament for when real life needs you to tee up.
The career mode is back, allowing you to design your own virtual self and take him through the pains of becoming a pro. With every tournament, you can win some money for better equipment or score points for your character to improve any number of traits from power to plain old luck. It’s this single player experience that will have you coming back for more as you work your way through the tournament circuits and compete for sponsorship that unlocks more clothes and clubs. And if your thirst for blood cannot be quenched with the AI, you could always take on some real golfers.
Forming the group
This year, EA is taking the game online with some new twists. Along with last year’s online options, you can compete in weekly and monthly tournaments for some of that fake cash to buy that fake shirt that you always wanted. When a tournament’s playing somewhere around the world, you can shine up your virtual clubs to take them online. Tiger Woods 10 broadcasts the scores and will even put you right in the action as you take on the greats in your little virtual world. Sure, it’s not going to impress the caddies at the clubhouse, but it’s another way EA tries to blur the line between reality and fantasy.
Disk golf makes an appearance, but it’s hard to understand why. It’s a lot like putting a grass cutting simulator into a football game. If anything, the disk golf games do a better job demonstrating the power of Wii Motion Plus. You can see the one-to-one movements right on screen. You play on the same courses that you’ll golf on – no college campus nor bikers to avoid. Along the same lines, some of the mini-games also feel out of place. While we all enjoyed driving around in golf carts, some of the longer games (at times taking up to five or ten minutes) clearly stretch the use of the word “mini.” None of this takes away from the solid golf presentation but is disappointing when we try to get others involved.
While Tiger may falter on extras, this golf game finally takes that step promised by so many EA marketing meetings – the experience of golf without the green fees. Tiger Woods PGA Tour 10 may not be actual golf, but it has enough of the presentation, color commentary, familiar surroundings, and strategy behind this often misunderstood game to warm the hearts of the most cynical of golfers. Beginners may, for the first time, actually want to take a swing at the real sport having only a taste for the basics. It may not be for everyone, but Tiger Woods 10 will have you itching to throw on a green jacket and some plaid pants after a couple of swings.