IGN Review of Tiger Woods PGA Tour 10
Videogame golf has been a long-standing staple of our industry. Whether on PC or console, hacking away at that little white ball is a mainstay of our favorite pastime. For the last several years the only serious (read: simulation) game in town has been Tiger Woods PGA Tour from EA Sports. This year Tiger brings us some new online modes, a new challenge mode that replaces Tiger Challenge from the last few years, and some needed gameplay tweaks to help ease players into the virtual golfing experience.
There's no doubt that Tiger Woods 10 is missing one major feature addition for EA Sports to hang its marketing hat on, but that doesn't mean that golf fans won't find plenty to enjoy. There are small things like the new Tournament Challenge that lets you take on real-world tourney situations from years past and Live Online Tournaments – my personal favorite of the new features – that allow you to record scores against other living players or real pros currently on the course. Still, none of these features are mind-blowing, and none will change the way you fundamentally think about Tiger Woods Golf. If you can get by that fact, then you'll find a golf title that's easy to enjoy.
With new tournament modes to toy around with (the aforementioned Tournament Challenge and Live Tournaments to go along with the standard PGA Season) EA Sports made the wise choice of trying to up the emotion of the game of golf. You'll hear fans in the distance cheer as your opponent sinks a critical putt, Kelly Tilghman and Scott Van Pelt will spout quips about movement on the leaderboards, and you'll get visual cues as players make and miss putts elsewhere on the course.
Even with those appreciated changes, I still can't help but feel like the real emotion of the Tour is held back. Sit down and watch the final round of one of Tiger's famous comebacks or see him drill a 20-foot putt on 17 or 18 and you'll hear what the crowd in Tiger Woods Golf should sound like. Likewise, Van Pelt and Tilghman don't bring the excitement that they would during a real Sunday afternoon on the links.
The game modes themselves, however, are well designed and fun to play. My favorite is easily the Play the Pros option within the Live Tournaments. It allows you to play side-by-side against the leaderboards from any real golf tournament. If Phil "Lefty" Mickelson drains a put on 16 to pull one-ahead of you on the leaderboard, you'll see that reflected in-game. It's simple but very fun. Likewise, the new Tournament Challenge uses GamerNet technology and forces you to hit exactly the same shots as some of golf's biggest names. Like all of the new features, it's nothing spectacular or overly imaginative, but it's a fun and welcome addition nonetheless.
Live Weather is another small addition to Tiger Woods that has actually been seen in other EA Sports games like NCAA Football the last few years. The feature is supposed to add real weather updates to the course you're playing on, and while the visual representations of these acts of nature comes through just fine, the changes to gameplay aren't quite there. During a downpour you'll see things like gusting wind that knocks the ball down and fairways that soften up for decreased roll distance, but as soon as the deluge stops, I found that conditions returned to normal too quickly. I'd like to see fairways stay sopping wet with puddles splashing even after the weather returns to normal.
On the course Tiger Woods PGA Tour 10 is almost exactly as you remember. You can still swing with either the analog stick or the three-click mechanic. If you crank up the power enough you'll still see the over-exaggerated "power shot" montage, but this year the ball has a cheesy looking cartoon vapor trail streaming out of the back. I understand that I just hit a golf ball very hard, I don't need to see a cartoon representation.
One tiny addition that I really did appreciate is the new ability to A or X your way through the annoying camera angles that occasionally constrict your view of where the ball is going.
The most substantive change to the core gameplay mechanic is the new Precision Putting. Instead of carrying multiple putters in your bag as you've been forced to do in the past, you now have one putter for all distances. You pick a spot on the green and the putter adjusts to show you how far you need to bring it back before releasing it forward. It's a well-crafted putting mechanic and emulates real-life golf better than it has in the past.
Most of your time on the course will be spent developing your created character. You design his or her look just as you have in the past (or with Photo GameFace) and then toss him onto the course. Attribute progression is organic as you'll advance in certain areas or regress in others depending on your performance. You'll also have the opportunity to practice shots that your coach recommends after a round is completed. Progression in Tiger Woods 10 feels much better than it has in the past. You no longer assign points to improve in certain areas. Instead, all of that is determined by your play on the course.
While you're hacking away at that dastardly little white ball you'll notice that Tiger has undergone some slight visual changes, though nothing that is as important as I would have liked. Little things like water and lighting in certain situations look improved over last year's game, but I was really hoping to see greater detail in the character models. We haven't seen the game progress in this manner since it landed on Xbox 360 years ago. The same goes for animations – both celebratory and standard striking – which are identical to what I've seen before.
The audio does get a bit of a bump thanks to Scott Van Pelt. He provides quips like "Get some!" when you nail a putt and other blurbs that definitely add to the personality of the overall package. Kelly Tilghman doesn't bring a lot of spice to the equation, and she essentially has zero direct interaction with Van Pelt – something I hope changes in the future. Not only that, but the commentary doesn't reference itself enough. I'd like to see Scott mention a poor call Kelly made a few holes ago and I'd like to see both of them get more excited over the drama that they're witnessing.
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