Tiger Woods PGA Tour 11 for the Wii looks to improve upon the 2010 entry's motion control enhancements, which were made possible by the Wii MotionPlus accessory. Tiger Woods 11 makes some strides in ensuring that the technology is more involved and challenging for players. The game still offers up the All Play format, which makes the game a cinch to figure out if you've never played a Tiger Woods title before, so gamers of all ages can figure out and enjoy it.
Like other EA Sports titles on the Wii, Tiger Woods 11 begins by letting you up your online preferences, and you'll be asked to log into the EA servers if you're looking to play some online games with friends. If you don't have an EA account set up, it's a pretty painless process. You take a few steps to establish a username that'll let other players know who you are. Once you get past that initial step, it's a matter of figuring out your control preferences.
You have the following possible setups: All Play, Standard, Advanced, Advanced Plus and Tour Pro. All Play allows for a really basic swing motion that doesn't require the precision of the other modes. You can make a swinging motion with the Wii Remote and hit the ball, not unlike what you'd find in the original Wii Sports golf mode. Standard will take into account whether or not you're holding the controller straight when connecting with the ball. It'll affect the direction in which the ball will be hit when impacted, and it requires a slightly steadier hand than with All Play.
Advanced is similar to Standard, but it's more punishing when it comes to draw and fade situations, and it's not a mode for new players. It takes a little while to adjust to how straight you'll need to hold the Wii Remote if you're looking for a nice, straight shot down the fairway. If you're coming into this with limited real-life golf experience, you could quickly become frustrated with the difficulty of this setting. Advanced Plus is exactly what it sounds like, but instead of taking fade and draw into account, it also tracks the measure of your swing plane and wrist rotation, requiring even more precision. I find that players who are more adept at actual golfing find this mode to be more natural and realistic than the previous three. Since I haven't spent a great deal of time on a golf course in the past few years, I was pretty awful with this mode.
Tour Pro offers up the game's truest experience to date; it uses tracking measures that are similar to Advanced Plus, with some added difficulty to the swing. However, it also changes the camera view to initiate a more hands-on look at the action instead of a third-person view. You can also zoom out to view the entire hole prior to a shot. It's definitely a mode that's only for the hardcore, but it's worth checking out to see what it'll take for you to get good at this mode.
The latter two modes both make use of the MotionPlus accessory, but the other modes do not require the accessory to work, so the title is accessible to both sets of owners. The added info that comes from the Wii MotionPlus is definitely evident in the Advanced Plus mode in how the swing is shown on-screen and in the feedback that comes from hitting the ball. It's not a big improvement over what EA did in Tiger Woods 10, but that game did an excellent job with the new accessory right out of the gate.
From this point on, you can create a user-made golfer and jump into the game, but I suggest jumping into the options menu to see the additional features that can be tweaked. Aside from actually changing the difficulty, you can adjust the game for right- or left-handed players, change putting styles between precision and classic, and adjust camera views from Broadcast, Classic or True View (the view in Tour Pro). You can also turn on Spin, which is enabled by using the d-pad on the Wii Remote while the ball is in flight, and you shake the Wiimote to affect the ball. In addition to all this, you can also adjust course conditions and visual aids, so there are plenty of options for the player to tailor the game to their preferences. More games could learn from the example set here, as Tiger Woods 11 doesn't skimp on options.
There are also a number of tutorials, which will allow you to test your hand at the harder swing settings, breaking down how to do things such as manual fades and draws, lining up a putt, getting out of a hazard, and so on. It'll force you to retry a particular lesson over and over again until you nail it, so if you're looking to get a hardcore experience out of this game, it's definitely worth your time to delve into the tutorials to see how it's done.
There are also many options for in-game modes. There are your basic exhibition matches, which are labeled Play Now, and then there's the lengthy and involved My Career, where you'll take a user-created character and put him through the motions of an entire PGA tour experience. Golf mode allows for traditional setups like Stroke or Match Play, and the Ryder Cup pits USA and Europe against each other. The pretty neat Arcade mode offers up Battle Golf (win a hole and take your opponents club), One Ball (both players share one ball, and the one who holes it wins), and Team One Ball (same as One Ball, but with two, two-man teams).
Finally, there's Party mode, which I found to be a lot of fun with a group of friends, just as it's intended to be. This mode contains the Disc Golf variation, Golf Party (group of friends going through the minigame events), Mini-Golf, and the actual Minigames. There are about eight different minigames to check out, ranging from ball juggling with a club to simple target practice scenarios. The Mini-Golf and Disc Golf modes make the Party mode worthwhile, and they're almost like having games within a game. Mini-Golf has many different golfers to choose from, including the user-created ones, and four courses of nine-hole minigolf action that's pretty well designed.
Finally there's the online mode, which is structured well enough, but a little more could have been done with it. It features weekly and daily tournaments and has a cool feature that lets you compete directly with pro scores that are posted in actual golfing events that are currently in progress. It also allows for simple head-to-head matches that will let you to play with anyone or choose from your existing friends. You can also choose from disc golf or regular golf, which I thought was a nice touch. I wish that the online mode included the minigolf option, and I had kind of hoped that there would be some unique online-only, but the options were pretty much the same. With that said, the online mode works quite well, with no connection or lag issues.
Of course, all of these features and options wouldn't mean much if the game didn't play well, and I'm happy to say that Tiger Woods 11 is pretty excellent. It'd be hard to screw up the controls with so many variations in play, and the ability to customize the controls to your liking really goes a long way in making the game such a blast on the Wii. You might be a little overwhelmed at first, but if you gradually work your way up from the starter difficulty, you can definitely progress into the harder modes with a little bit of practice. It's definitely the best video game representation of golf that I've played. It's also not a bad-looking game on the Wii, with the actual golf courses being represented extremely well, and while graphics aren't considered to be a selling point for some Wii titles, I think the developers have done a really solid job.
If you have a passing interest in the world of golf, I highly suggest checking out Tiger Woods PGA Tour 11. It's definitely the best entry yet in the series, and golf fans shouldn't pass it up. Even if you're a newcomer to this particular sport or your only experience is with titles like Mario Golf or Hot Shots, I think you'll be surprised with how engaging and engrossing the world of PGA Tour 2011 can be.
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