Publisher: EA Sports
Developer: EA Tiburon
Release Date: June 8, 2009
When it comes to golf, the Wii would seem to be the console most perfectly suited to the sport. After all, there have been various attempts at getting the classic sport ported to the virtual realm over the years, but none mimic the actual movement of swinging a golf club as closely as the Wiimote. The challenge with the Wii, however, is its relative lack of horsepower when compared to the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. No matter how you slice it, getting slick graphics up on the other two systems is a whole lot easier than on the Wii — and that's what makes Tiger Woods PGA Tour 10 so impressive. EA has managed to develop a Wii sports game that competes on both looks and gameplay.
Thinking of the controller as the shaft of a golf club is the best way to experience the new Tiger Woods, especially if you have the MotionPlus accessory. Without the accessory, the Wiimote handles well, but it can be a little jittery and occasionally mis-register a swing when using the Wiimote by itself. With the MotionPlus accessory, the feel of being right there on the green is hard to shake off.
When lining up a shot with MotionPlus, the game recognizes your swing as well as the angle of your club. If you simply want to drive it down field, then hit the ball straight on. If you want to curve a shot left or right, then do as you would do in real life: curve the club and hit the ball at an angle.
For putting, the game introduces a new "Precision Putting" mechanic. Because it is difficult to properly estimate the speed and power of your swing on a putt, the game takes a small liberty and uses the depth of your backswing to determine the power of your shot. The swing meter is displayed on-screen with ticks denoting every quarter. As you pull back on the swing, the meter fills up, and where you stop determines your power. For example, swing back halfway, and you'll hit the ball at 50 percent. It feels a little weird at first, but once you get used to it, the new precision putting ends up adding an extra layer of depth to the experience.
The MotionPlus accessory also comes into play during the disc golf modes. Played with a Frisbee, disc golf is just like regular golf except you are attempting to toss a Frisbee into a bucket rather than hitting a ball into a hole. When played with the MotionPlus accessory, the on-screen Frisbee perfectly mimics your hand placement during the throw and release, allowing you to more accurately toss the flying disc. It doesn't necessarily make the game any easier, but at least when you completely miss a shot, you know it is due to a lack of skill rather than an inaccurate control scheme.
In terms of courses, Tiger Woods is no slouch. There are 27 different, real-world courses available for play (incidentally, that is more courses than are available in either the PlayStation 3 or Xbox 360 version of the game), including Bethpage Black, which is where the 2009 U.S. Open was played. All of the courses are modeled after the terrain, so they look and play like the real thing. The only things missing are the green fees and the long waits for some of the more popular courses.
Catering to both casual and advanced players, Tiger Woods offers just as wide a variety of play modes as it does courses. There are the traditional stroke play and match play game types as well as various arcade-style game modes and mini-games. In-game difficulty can also be adjusted, so that casual players are given assistance (referred to as the "All Play" mode) with their shots while the hardcore can go at it with just pure skill.
Tapping in to a bit of real life, the game integrates with the Wii's Forecast Channel, giving you a real-time update on the weather wherever you are playing. If Pebble Beach is warm and sunny, that's what you'll see in-game. If it is windy and overcast, then you'll have to play to the conditions. This dynamic weather system only works if your Wii is connected to the Internet, but it is an extra layer of connectivity that adds to the game rather than just being a gimmick.
Online play offers a number of options, including the ability to "play the pros." This option faces you off against re-creations of recent games played by real-life professionals. Playing in a pro tournament is time-limited and restricted to the pro settings (assist settings are disabled), but it's likely the closest that most of us will ever get to walking onto the course with a celebrity golfer.
For most of the online modes, you will need an EA account, but for those that don't want to bother with setting one up (it's actually a rather streamlined process and not very intrusive), Tiger Woods includes a guest option. When playing as a guest, you are limited to unranked matches online and most of the neater features, such as Play the Pros, are disabled; however, it makes for a quick and easy way to get online immediately and start playing.
Simply based on the sheer amount of content alone, Tiger Woods PGA Tour 10 is bound to have you playing for hours on end. When you mix in the excellent controls, sharp visuals and multitude of online and offline game modes, it's difficult to find much to complain about. About the only thing missing is Wii Speak voice support. EA has done a bang-up job this year and produced yet another "must have" sports game. If you are a golfing enthusiast, picking up Tiger Woods for the Wii is a no-brainer. Skip the "next-gen" versions and snag a Wii copy with MotionPlus support. It may just be the best $50 you'll spend all year.Score: 9.3/10
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