I have never played a real game of golf and my mini-golf game is solidly mediocre, but boy do I bring the awesome to Tiger Woods PGA Tour 10. The only thing better than getting to play a decent round, though, is that video games make golf move at a bearable pace. OK, so it isn’t the speed of say, any other sport, and if you are playing with a friend passing the solo WiiMotionPlus controller that came in the bundle back and forth because you couldn’t/wouldn’t/refuse to pay for yet another Wii add-on it can turn into a snail’s paced relay, but I’ll be darned if time doesn’t just melt away as you pummel the back nine. Simply, the natural immersion WMP brings makes gameplay more fun than a traditional control scheme.
WMP improves the motion sensing technology of the Wii, and the mechanics are solid. The resulting realism makes being a pro that much more realistically difficult – but at least you won’t feel cheated. Giving a swing some real oomph is balanced against your form, tempering brute force with technique. WMP really encourages you to stand up and tackle the course like a real golfer. Yes, it requires moderate activity, and while it’s no EA Active adding extreme fade and draw to a shot is a real wrist twister. You don’t have to play with WMP, but forgoing the experience really means you are electing to play a different game entirely.
There are three difficulty levels for your swing control and two putting options. All-Play displays the ball’s trajectory, and if you bring the requisite power to the swing it is a reasonable predictor for your shot. As far as modes go, All-Play does let you phone it in, but if you are new to the game it is a nice way to test the waters. Standard swing control factors the tilt of the cub before, during and after your swing and is a step or so up from All-Play without crushing your spirit like only Advanced mode can. Be sure to check out the Club Tuner which allows you to tweak your shots. When it comes to putting, the Classic putting option found in prior Tiger games reappears but should be skipped in favor of the new Precision Putting. The latter is motion control sensitive and measures the length of your back swing in tandem with the speed of your forward stroke and is very easy to pick up.
In addition to getting your swing just so for the perfect drive, you also have the ability to affect the spin of the ball before it hits the ground. This spin control is achieved by selecting the desired direction of the spin and then shaking the controller. When you are desperately trying to get your ball on the green the, er, shaking can get pretty vigorous and like many a Wiimote action it is difficult to keep the gesture clear of the obscene. Just saying.
But this iteration of Tiger Woods packs more than WMP power; there is an overwhelming amount of depth. My Career is the meat of the single player game. Character creation is a little impressionistic, but at least it doesn’t take too long to create the mangled horror. In Career Mode there is a PGA Tournament Schedule that you can play through with your custom golfer, which means that from the outset you are playing from the black tees with a crappy golfer – good times! It’s realistic, and sometimes reality just hurts. You can, however, work on appropriating experience in areas like accuracy and luck, which you need in spades.
The historical significance of Tournament Challenge was a little lost on me, but you get to play through significant golfing scenarios – and hopefully come out on top. Challenge Mode offers a golfing quickie and a dash of experience without the commitment to a tournament. That experience is critical, since your custom golfer leaves so much room for improvement. In the Traditional Games mode you can also choose from nine options, among them Match Play (each hole is a challenge) or Best Ball (best score of a team is the team’s score).
The Arcade and Mini-Games Modes are almost completely overshadowed by frisbee golf (or Disc Golf, as they call it in-game). This activity, already laughable in real-life form, adds some lighthearted variety and is madly addictive. Trade in your ball and club for a small frisbee disc and have at any of the twenty seven available courses, with a nice view of your tilt, elevation and speed. Disc Golf is only on the Wii, and definitely bears the markers of the Wii’s signature frivolity.
Online you can enjoy the simultaneous play featured in past games as well as a Live Tournament mode that allows you to compete in tournaments daily and weekly, with results recorded on EA’s leader boards. The game uses EA’s network for the online, no need for friend codes just create or login to an EA Sports account. The Play the Pros feature compares your scores with actual PGA events as they occur in slightly delayed real time. That means that near-to-live, you can play through a game with Tiger Woods. Kind of. This “real time” stuff is something the game is rather fond of, and the game includes the Wii Forecast feature for real-time weather conditions. There isn’t any WiiSpeak support; however, golf frowns on speaking in real-time.
Not subject to the silence are the announcers, who are too often adding insult to injury following your swing with commentary that would have been dead helpful before you took the shot. The music is less stale than the announcing, but the graphics win the aesthetics prize, owing in large part to the fact that golf courses are designed to be pretty. The game is no visual leap forward for mankind, mostly dealing in texture problems, but it looks pleasant. Menus are bright and shiny, well-integrated and helpful for the controls. Oftentimes the cinema following a shot is just plain annoying as you can hardly tell what you are looking at and must guess where your ball is headed. Best to pretend you have been blinded by sunlight or the roar of the polite clapping of the crowd. Yes, there are spectators! On top of this revolution in sporting, a couple more professional golfers as well as six new courses have been added including Banff Springs and Torrey Pines.
Tiger Woods PGA Tour 10 on the Wii breathes new life into the franchise. Everybody golf clap, Tiburon has created a very robust, non-boring golf game where sim meets sport in a scalable experience. WiiMotionPlus brings unparalleled immersion to a game brimming with content, and this Wii title earns its place among the greats as the Tiger game golf fans have to own.