As Tiger Woods works his way back to dominating the PGA Tour after a long layoff due to an injury, the game that bears his name is implementing a few new tricks to dominate the video-game golfing scene.Tiger Woods PGA Tour 10 is set to hit this June and it looks like it'll be the best Tiger game yet. With new online features and a revamped putting system, EA Sports is trying to make the game more realistic than ever. On the Wii side, Wii Motion Plus is an awesome addition, particularly for gamers than understand the mechanics of a real golf swing. Assistant designer TravisSailer recently walked me through some of the game's new features.
"This year we're really focused on conveying what it's like to play a tour event -- playing a major championship, being inside the ropes, capturing that drama, and capturing that pressure," saidSailer . EA is trying to do this in a few ways: improved galleries, real-time weather, and tournament updates. As the development team learns how to exploit the power of this generation of consoles, adding fans to the gallery has been a snap. Sailer noted, "We've nearly tripled our galleries, so you'll be playing with Tiger-like galleries. There will be a ton of people watching you play. No pressure."
This year's game will take advantage of online weather updates for a more realistic feel. Sailer said, "We have dynamic weather. You'll get live weather updates through The Weather Channel. If you're playing a course that's in New York, then whatever the weather happens to be in New York at that time, that will be the weather in the game. That's not only going to be a visual thing, it also affects the gameplay." Weather can change dynamically throughout the course of the game. Things can start out dry, but can end up soggy by the ninth hole. Naturally, players will have to adjust their swings to compensate for rain, wind, etc.
The last feature that helps convey the "tour event" feel seems simple, but adds a lot to a tournament's drama and can impact strategy. Sailer said, "As you're playing tournaments, little tickers are going to pop in and tell you what's going on with the leader board. You'll hear a roar if Tiger just hit an eagle to go ahead of you. You'll know exactly where you stand. It might make you think a little bit if you're standing over an eight-footer and someone just took the lead ahead of you." This part is totally cool. Trying to capture the "life" of a tournament is a tricky task, but this should help things out greatly.
The putting system has been completely overhauled to be more realistic and challenging. Sailer said, "Gamers can expect more of a challenge and more of a life-like experience with the new putting system. Previously, with distance putters you got were hitting a full swing most of the time. In real golf, it's much different hitting a five-foot putt than it is hitting a 50-foot putt. It's not the same swing and we really wanted to bring that to the game. This year it's based on one distance putter -- 120 feet. Once you get your line and speed, you really need to dial it in on the meter to get it right. It feels a lot like real putting and it's going to be a lot more challenging." If that doesn't sound appealing, then you can opt to use the classic putting system.
I had a lot of fun playing the game with Wii Motion Plus. It definitely adds more realism and control, which is a good thing if you know how to play golf; and potentially a bad thing if you don't. Although I enjoy heading to the driving range every now and again, I'm not much of a golfer...and that showed with Wii Motion Plus. I tried a few holes using advanced mode and produced some gloriously ugly shanks. I'm pretty sure I displaced four families of birds with the shots I sliced into the trees. Sailer noted, "The Wii Motion Plus takes the game to another level. You can stop your follow through, hit a little soft, punch shots -- and your character in the game will mimic you exactly. The biggest thing is that the draw and fade are a lot more consistent. You can really dial it in -- especially in the advanced setting -- and really control the ball."
Fans of Tiger Woods PGA Tour have much to look forward to in this year's version. Whether you're a hardcore or just an avid golf gamer, EA Sports hopes that the game will appeal to you. "We really tried to focus on making a game that's appealing to casual gamers as well as skilled gamers," said Sailer. Personally, I'm all about the Wii version. Hopefully the dev team will be able to implement a counter for all the wildlife I'll kill with my horrendous swing.