Watch The Video Review.
I’m a pretty big fan of golf. While I haven’t played on a real course in over a year, my hunger is fed thanks to a steady diet of Hot Shots Golf on the PS3 and PSP. I hadn’t played a Tiger Woods game in a few years, mostly because the franchise hadn’t really done anything new or different in the last four or five years. Then I got my hands on Tiger Woods PGA Tour 10 for the Wii at an EA Sports event a few months ago. Ever since that day, I’ve been crossing off dates on my calendar eagerly awaiting what I had hoped would be the golf game to end all golf games. After spending a week with the game, I can safely say that Tiger 10 is the best golf video game I’ve ever played.
Gameplay in Tiger 10 is quite simply the best players have ever seen on a home console. That is, if you bought the game along with Wii Motion Plus. Without the latest peripheral, Tiger 10 on the Wii is nothing more than a retread of last year’s game with a few new game modes tacked on. The controls are passable when not using Motion Plus, but in no way are they exciting. Wii Motion Plus is a game changer for this franchise. By adding this tiny little plug-in to the bottom of your Wii controller, Tiger 10 is able to provide gamers with the most true to life video game replication of an actual sport they’ve ever seen. In previous versions of Tiger Woods on the Wii, your swing never felt like it had any weight. The result of your input didn’t affect trajectory, spin, and distance all that much hole to hole. In this year’s version, every swing matters.
The Wii Motion Plus peripheral does a fantastic job of turning your regular old Wii controller into an imaginary golf club. Every nuance of your swing motion will come through, flaws and all. If you have a hitch in your swing, your onscreen persona will too. If you have a tendency to slice or hook your shots because your swing is untrained, you’ll be hacking and slashing your way across the course in the game. While in no way is Tiger 10 an acceptable substitute for an actual golf teacher, or the real game for that matter, it can act as a great way to keep practicing your swing mechanics for those days when you can’t actually make it to the public course down the street. Just don’t get fooled into thinking you’re going to be hitting 300-yard drives down the middle of the fairway by playing this game for a few hours. The only issue with the control scheme, and this is true of the game when playing without Motion Plus as well, is determining just how much power you’re going to get out of your swing. You can take as many practice swings as you like to feel it out, but the game is very inconsistent when relaying the amount of power you get out of your motion each and every time you swing.
On the green, Tiger 10 again surpasses last year’s effort by leaps and bounds with the new Precision Putting mechanic. By factoring in your backswing and follow through, not only is the game more capable of recreating a much more realistic putt, but the frustrating Classic Putting meter can finally be retired as well. The Classic meter is still included in the game for people who don’t want to take the game too seriously, but it’s often frustrating, and nowhere near as accurate as the Precision Putting. Those people turned off by all the new features can take heart in the fact that the game also allows players less familiar with playing video games the option of All Play. The simplified and streamlined control scheme makes the game enjoyable for everyone, not just those who’ve been practicing late into the night to perfect his or her swing. While I won’t go so far as to say All Play levels the playing field, it will make competitive play a bit more challenging.
In addition to the Play Now option, which plunks you down on a randomized course, the game modes in Tiger Woods PGA Tour 10 should keep you busy for quite a while. Career Mode is just as deep as it has been in years past, only this time there are a few nice additions to play when you don’t feel like playing in another tournament. The FedEx Cup, which is a four-tournament playoff system, allows you to try for the PGA Tour championship without having to play through the rest of the season trying to qualify for one of the top 125 slots. Tournament Challenge tasks you with completing some of the most famous moments in recent PGA history like Tiger’s famous putt on the 17th green of the The Player’s Championship at Sawgrass. Taking on these Challenges is not only fun (and difficult), you’ll also be earning cash and experience to spend on making your Career created character better. The character creator hasn’t changed much from last year, but it’s still serviceable. You may not be able to scan your face in, but the gameplay this year more than makes up for the lack of depth in creation.
Surprisingly, the mode you’ll almost assuredly be spending most of your time with is Disc Golf. Don’t get me wrong. I love Career mode to death, but the implementation of frolf into this year’s game is quite possibly a stroke of genius. You can choose any of the 27 courses in the game to play, including the new additions of Bethpage Black and Torrey Pines, along with three other friends, and just watch your day waste away before your eyes. As much fun as I’m having with the standard career modes, I honestly play at least five holes of frolf to hone my skills for the next time I have people over. The multiplayer fun doesn’t end there though. Golf Party is a new multiplayer mode where players goof around in various events in hopes of having the highest score when the dust settles. Mini-games that test actual skill like Capture the Flag, Long Drive, and Closest to the Pin are complemented with less serious games where you drive ball-retrieval carts around or try to bounce a golf ball on your club for the longest amount of time. Of course, you could also play some more traditional golf games like Skins or Best Ball. The possibilities of ways for you to spend your time with the game are nearly endless.
The online portion of Tiger 10 on the Wii is pretty good as well. While there’s still no way to chat while playing, even with the advent of the Wii Speak, there’s no shortage of fun when playing online. Weekly tournaments, where you can try and match up against the scores the actual pros are putting up, simultaneous four-player rounds, where opponents drives and putts are visualized by colored streaks, and leaderboards round out the online experience. While it may seem like there aren’t as many options here as there should be (why can’t I play disc golf online?), the tournaments will keep you busy enough that you will hardly notice the lack of options. The good news is there’s hardly any lag issues, so most of your time online will be spent just enjoying the game.
Probably the weakest department in the Tiger Woods 10 package is the presentation. The game doesn’t look terrible, but not much has changed over the past few years, and the game’s engine is starting to show its age. Curiously, EA didn’t opt for the caricatured versions of players that populate Grand Slam Tennis and the upcoming Wii version of Madden NFL 10. The game would have benefited greatly from having a much more stylized approach versus trying to maintain an air of phot-realism. The courses all look just fine, despite the lack of variation in the textures. The only real difference I noticed between the green and the fairway was a slightly different color of green. I know the Wii doesn’t exactly have the graphical prowess of other systems, but there have been games that do a lot with what the Wii has. Sadly, Tiger 10 isn’t one of those games. Adding the crowd to the course during tournaments, in addition to commentary from Scott Van Pelt and Kelly Tilghman greatly improves the immersion of the player in this virtual world. Thanks to the television-style presentation, you will feel like millions across the world are experiencing every shot you make or miss.
It’s been quite a while since I’ve been impressed with a sports game like I was after playing Tiger Woods PGA Tour 10. I’ve also never felt as satisfied when doing something right, or as disappointed in myself for screwing up, as I do when I play this game. In just about any other game you’ll ever play, screw-ups can be blamed on glitches or computer AI, but here, finally, how well you perform is truly up to you. Tiger Woods PGA Tour 10 isn’t the first perfect golf game, but it’s the closest anyone’s come yet. Despite some of the graphical hang-ups, and thanks to the immersive gameplay, EA has set a new bar for everyone to follow. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m late for my tee time.