Last year, development studio Tiburon (Madden) took over the Wii incarnation of Tiger Woods and delivered system owners a great golfing experience that proved unparalleled -- even with a putting system that some felt could've been refined and a swing mechanic that didn't yet use MotionPlus. For this year's game EA has addressed all those issues and then some, crafting what is ultimately the most satisfyingly immersive and altogether entertaining golf simulation that money can buy, period. Let me tell you, the long-anticipated inclusion of MotionPlus swing controls has been worth the wait and and newly implemented precision putting system is sure to please those of you in search of a realistic recreation of the real thing. But the good news is that the development team has not stopped with these already-spectacular additions. PGA Tour 10 also features a robust selection of new courses and golfers, real-time weather effects, enhanced live tournaments over EA's online network and -- oh yeah -- a little something called disc golf, which is not only stupidly addictive, but exclusive to the Wii version of the sequel. Did I mention the title ships with MotionPlus included at a discounted price? You needn't keep reading if you only need to know whether to buy it or not. The answer is yes, yes and yes again. Run, if you're able.
Tiger 10 is the definitive golf game, but it is by no means a revolution. EA has kept the fundamentals from last year's project and added to them rather than subtract from them and as a result the title feels very evolutionary. There are several different play modes, but the bulk of the single-player endeavor is housed under My Career, an extremely detailed, challenging component that enables you to build a golfer from scratch (the character create is nearly identical to 09 for all of its strengths and weaknesses; the club tuner, however, is much improved thanks to MotionPlus support, which really tracks your swing), define all of his subtle properties, and then take him through the PGA Tour Season, FedExCup, and Tournament Challenge. I could recommend Woods 10 to golf fans based on this content-packed mode alone -- simply attempting to navigate the PGA Tour Season will take most seasoned players weeks if not months and that doesn't even consider the other challenges or gameplay options, both of which are overflowing with additional obstacles. EA has actually fattened up the mode over its predecessor by adding seven new courses, from Banff Springs to Torrey Pines and Bethpage Black, not to mention new selectable golfers like Anthony Kim and Rocco Mediate.
But there there are the additional modes, which can't (and shouldn't) be ignored because they're very welcomed. Play Now is in place so that you can skip all the customizations and simply jump into a round of golf. Golf Party features 10-plus mini-games, from golf cart competitions to target practice and ring scores, the majority of them returning from last year's effort. These entries are designed for up to four players and result in experiences that can be considered a worthy alternative to standard golf, especially when you've got friends over. I still like the ball battle option, in which multiple players attempt to pull the golf ball in various directions -- either to guide it toward or away from the hole -- as it soars through the air. There's also a Game Modes section that alternatively offers genuine variations on the real sport of golf, like Match Play, in which each hole becomes its own contest, or Best Ball, in which the best score among teammates is used as the overall team score. It's clear that Tiburon put a lot of thought into extending replay value beyond the insanely dense and challenging PGA Tour.
And it doesn't end there because Tiger 10 Wii features two more gameplay-extending modes sure to keep you glued to your television for weeks and months to come. The first is Disc Golf, exclusive to the Wii title. It's a lot like Wii Sports Resort's dog frisbee, actually, and it's incredibly fun. The game is best enjoyed with the MotionPlus peripheral, which reads all of your subtle movements and translates them realistically to the screen in near-real-time. You simply press and hold the B-Trigger to grab hold of a frisbee, twist it around in your hands and you'll see all of your movements reflected perfectly in the game world, and then throw. Voila. The title accurately measures your angle, your speed and your release point for a Disc Golf experience that feels very real and extremely satisfying. It's so good that every editor who played it in the weeks leading up to my review came back to my desk and asked to play again and again. It's so good that if EA were to release it as a separate game, I'd probably recommend it. Amazingly, you can play through all 27 courses in Disc Golf mode. The only drawback to the component is one that only becomes evident after you play the same mode in Wii Sports Resort. While the frisbee physics in EA's title are certain good and realistic, they're not quite as satisfying as those in Nintendo's title, whose frisbees glide longer and hang more realistically in the air.
And then, of course, there's the online component. If you bought last year's effort, you undoubtedly took part in its fast and fun simultaneous four-player online mode, which was a great time suck. EA has kept the mode in tact for this year's title and added to it with new and fantastic Live Tournaments. Here, you can take part in ranked online daily and weekly tournaments or you can play the pros with near-live stats from actual tournaments as they unfold. You can even see how you fare against the all-time leaders. When you add in the fact that Tiger 10 also incorporates real-time weather courtesy of the Forecast Channel, you will actually encounter scenarios in which television golf games can be recreated dynamically on your Wii, and only with a relatively small delay. I can actually compete directly with Tiger -- and yeah, I'll probably get my behind kicked, but that I can even do that is an impressive feat and one that makes Woods 10 all the more enjoyable.
On a side note, the online connection process is smooth and the play flawless, in my experiences. No friend codes necessary. Tiger 10 utilizes EA's network for a no-fuss online component. If you've created an account already with any EA Sports title, you should have no issues jumping right back online. You can sort by friends, by random or even go into a lobby and define your own match types. It really couldn't be easier. The only downer is that there is still no WiiSpeak support for online chatting, which is long overdue. If you're reading EA, I'm going to start docking points if you ignore it again in next year's version.
All right, so it's clear that where content is concerned, Tiburon has thought of just about everything. The presentation is equally comprehensive. All the menus are slickly designed, animated, sport large icons for the Wii remote, and also shine with scrolling backgrounds that pop up and out depending on your selections. You can define all sorts of different play styles, set your music, whether or not to feature your Mii online, etc. While the in-game graphics have not seen dramatic enhancements over last year's game -- I personally feel that Tiger's engine needs to be rebuilt from the ground-up for Wii to really push the system visually -- the visual presentation is still well done. Tiger animates realistically. The courses themselves look like their real life counterparts. And Tiburon has for the first time included spectators to add one extra layer of realism to the aesthetics.
Of course, you've read all this way (I told you, you didn't have to do that) and yet I still haven't mentioned how Woods 10 plays with MotionPlus support. I did this purposefully so that you won't focus entirely on play controls and ignore all the great other features and modes that the title delivers this year. But here we are and I can tell you that you needn't worry at all. The near-one-to-one golf swing is finally accurately realized with the addition of MotionPlus. Pull back your club and Tiger follows. Swing forward and he'll do the same. Hold it halfway back and he'll do that, too. Swing slow or fast and your speed will be translated reliably on-screen. And for the first time, you can add fade and draw and it actually works, for real. Therefore, Tiger 10 for Wii is simply the most realistic recreation of golf yet, and you won't want to stop playing. That said, there are still some subtleties to the swing mechanics that aren't immediately intuitive. For as good as the system works -- and trust me, it works -- I've found that really winding back and giving it your all doesn't always equate to full power. Rather, there's some finesse to it -- the system takes into account your form and the arch of your swing as you go, and not just the speed of your movements. As a result, the same swing you make at the local driving range to really send balls flying will almost certainly be different from the one you use in Tiger 10 to do the same. It's an adjustment. Also, adding extreme fade and draw is still an uncomfortable undertaking because you will have to really pivot your wrist on the upswing, a small gripe. Overall, though, the control mechanics work triumphantly and are perfectly complemented by a super new precision putting system, which allows you to sink holes merely by using the amount of angle and forward swing that feels right to you. Seriously -- you can use shot indicators and graph the terrain on the easier control difficulties, but I've found it easier just to eye the course, get a feel for it and putt away. It works like a charm.
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