Tiger Woods PGA Tour 11 Review

By Scott Alan Marriott - Posted Jun 08, 2010

Return to the greens with Tiger Woods PGA Tour 11, which builds upon the strong foundation built by its predecessor. It's not the game-changer that PGA Tour 10 was, but the addition of first-person golfing marks one of several great refinements. You won't get a better golf game this year.

The Pros
  • Very responsive controls, including new True View
  • Diverse play modes
  • Highly improved online integration
  • 28 courses to explore
The Cons
  • Balance Board support could've added more realism
  • Very fun mini golf limited to local play instead of online
  • Advanced swings require patience, practice

EA bags another birdie with Tiger Woods PGA Tour 11 on Wii, refining the motion-sensitive mechanics from its predecessor to offer more realism and depth. While the majority of the game's new features are more evolutionary than revolutionary, they nonetheless improve on an already addictive experience.

Though the framework from last year's excellent game remains intact, PGA Tour 11's play mechanics have been fine tuned. First and foremost is the option to play the game from a first-person perspective, called True View, allowing you to see each of the 28 included courses as if you were actually good (or wealthy) enough to compete there. Before each swing, you can view the ball and selected club from a top-down perspective. As you grip the Wii remote, you'll adjust your wrists in real time to position the club's head before implementing your swing.

Shakes on a Plane

The swing mechanics can be adjusted to suit your skill level or identified strengths and weaknesses. There are now a total of five swing choices, with the Advanced Plus and Tour Pro options debuting in PGA Tour 11. The Advanced Plus setting tracks the plane of your swing's motion, which when combined with your wrist's twists, lets you influence the ball's flight path in a surprisingly realistic manner. The Tour Pro setting requires you to be more consistent in your backswing and follow-through motion, keeping your arms at the same angle throughout. You can even miss the ball completely on this setting, though there's no stroke penalty for doing so.

 

The advanced swings take some getting used to, because you don't have the weight of a real-life club or a visual reference of your club's head as you strike an imaginary ball. You'll definitely want to have something to focus on during your swing -- an actual golf ball is recommended by the development team, but a Smurf figurine or your cat's head  -- as it naps unsuspectingly on the living room carpet -- will work just as well. The idea is to point the Wii remote toward the marker, hold the B button to lock onto its location, then carry out the motion as if you were swinging an actual club.

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Different Strokes

The developers also added multiple difficulty settings to determine just how many assists or on-screen aids you see during the game. If you don't like swing arcs, assisted hole-outs, preview putts, or aiming circles, for example, you can do away with one or all of them for as realistic a game as you want. The controls are excellent across the board, though the Wii MotionPlus is an absolute necessity if you want to experience the game as it's meant to be played. The only glaring omission is support for the Wii Balance Board, which as Wii Fit Plus showed, could have been a great tool to measure your body's balance and weight distribution while swinging and added a new depth dynamic to gameplay. 

 

PGA Tour 11's play modes are mostly the same as last year's version, though there are a few notable additions. Once again, the main appeal of the game is creating your own athlete and embarking on a PGA career for up to 30 years. Player progression has been tweaked to an extent, with your golfer earning experience points by shooting birdies, landing on the fairway from the tee, sinking long putts, and so forth. Experience points let you to level up, unlock new accessories and clothing options, and enhance attributes in the areas of power, accuracy, and spin. You can also lose points with poor performance moves such as unannounced visits to the water or sand. 

Lite Ryder?

The Ryder Cup is new to PGA Tour 11, but to be perfectly honest, it doesn't change the game in any meaningful way. You're still playing the same types of matches you were in last year's title, only now you just play them in a structured series. You'll set your 12-person team, then pick-and-choose which matches to play (and your golfer) to ensure your computer-controlled teammates don't fall too far behind the competition. There's also a skills challenge, pitting you against other professional golfers in various scenarios to win bronze, silver, and gold medals as well as experience points for your created athlete.

 

The same eight mini-games found in PGA Tour 10 return, now playable individually, and the Frisbee-like disc golf mode, which is now supported online. The most significant change to PGA Tour 11 is miniature golf, offering four creatively designed, obstacle filled, nine-hole courses that are a nice diversion from the main game. You can't, however, play mini golf online. Online play in PGA Tour 11 is otherwise solid, though it's still limited to four players. You'll now be notified of long drive or closest-to-pin challenges set by other golfers while you play offline, similar to the GamerNet feature on PS3 and Xbox 360. It sounds minor, but the challenges help draw you into the game's community and add some excitement to the courses.

Above Par

Tiger Woods PGA Tour 11's refined swing system completely changes your expectations of future golf games. The controls with the MotionPlus -- a serious game-changer in PGA Tour 10 -- are one step closer to the real thing , and you'll enjoy experimenting with the new difficulty and swing settings until you've found the right balance of realism, challenge, and fun. PGA Tour 11 on Wii is the most impressive console golf game to date, besting both the Xbox 360 and PS3 versions with its more advanced swing mechanics and variety of play modes beyond the traditional game. The fact that it's cheaper and doesn't require an "online pass" means, for now, the grass is truly greener on Nintendo's platform.

Still want to play it? Why not rent it at Gamefly?