Tiger Woods PGA Tour 10ESRB:
Platform: Xbox 360
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Xbox LIVE Vision
Electronic Arts has the virtual golfing arena covered with is yearly installment of the long running Tiger Woods series. Golf and EA have been together since I can remember. I am a console gamer at heart and I remember playing PGA European Tour back during the Sega Genesis days. Since then the combination of golf and videogames has come a very long way and the 2010 edition of Tiger Woods PGA Tour brings some new additions to the table for everyone to enjoy.
Visually Tiger Woods 10 looks solid. From the very recognizable PGA pro golfers to the various forms of scenery surrounding every golf course you play on, all is presented in high definition glory. Once again you know who the star of this game is, as Tiger looks and animates pretty damn well. The other players look great too, but man they don’t look ‘Tiger’ great. As for the courses, I would have to say they look pretty darn fine. To be honest I admit I have never been to Pebble Beach or St. Andrews, but I have seen them many times on T.V., and of course in other golf games of past, and this time they look as good as they ever did. From the bunkers to the water, you can tell a lot of love went into the visual representation of each course. The same love that went into last year’s version carries over to 2010 as there is a lot of eye candy. I think that any Tiger Woods PGA Tour fan will like what they see. It seems as though the same love that went into last year’s version carried over to the 2010 version as there is a lot of eye candy.
As for the general sound effects, they are once again as strong as those in past versions of Tiger. From the sound of the club hitting the ball off the tee or out of a sand bunker, to the reactions of the crowd in response to a well placed or poorly placed shot, all of them seem bang on. Environmental sounds for each course are alive and kicking too. From the waves pounding the shore at Pebble Beach to the wildlife of the Canadian Rockies as you play in Banff, Alberta, each course is brought to life. And of course everything is in Dolby Digital 5.1 too, so if you have a good surround sound set-up you will actually hear all the sounds around you.
Although the sound effects themselves are solid, I once again have a major beef with EA in terms of the audio, and just like last year it has to do with the commentating. This year’s duties are assigned to Kelly Tilghman and Scott Van Pelt. Although there is some improvement from last year they still need some work. They just didn’t seem to have the professional feel that Tiger Woods PGA Tour has had in the past. The previous duo of Feherty and McCord (pre-2009) made the commentating sound like good golf commentating, whereas Tilghman and Van Pelt sound somewhat flat. It is a better effort then last year though, but that is not saying much. I don’t know if EA can’t find anyone to ‘fit’ with Tilghman as she has seemed out of place since her introduction to the series two years ago. That being said, there is the odd line now and then that caught me off guard, in a good way, but this was far and few between.
Tiger Woods PGA Tour has been the defacto standard when it comes to golf games, and given the fact that EA holds the exclusive virtual licence to the PGA, golf fans around the world have nowhere else to go. If you are looking a game that offers true PGA courses, tournaments and players, then EA’s golf game is the only place to look. Everyone else has tried to make a golf game and most have fallen short in this area as they cannot match what the PGA licence offers.
So, what’s on the disc this year?
Customization makes a return to Tiger Woods 10 in terms of your in game persona. Here the Game Face is back in full force allowing you to make a player that looks just like you. You can either use the in-game models, your console’s camera, or you can use an actual picture of yourself via a digital photo that you upload to the EA World servers and then download to your game. You can then alter a lot of character attributes as well from hair, eyes, cheeks, jaws, nose and more. I found downloading a digital picture from EA’s servers was pretty good and the quality of digital photo versus a console camera was noticeable. Once you get your virtual image you can then buy clothes and equipment in the Pro Shop to further customize the look your created character.
Once you create you custom golfer you will again meet Hank Haney, Tiger’s real-life coach, who takes you through some quick tests to see where your strengths and weaknesses are. You are graded and assigned levels in the areas of power, short game, accuracy and putting. This is the core of your character, and as you play through the various modes and tournaments you once again can increase or decrease the scores on each specific attribute based on your performance. So if you are having a good run with your tee shots, but not so much with your short game, then your scores in those attributes will reflect that. As with last year, it really rewards your play and there is nothing like seeing your attribute go up after a really great round.
For those in the need to know, there are a total of 16 courses for you to hit the links on. Now this is the same number as last year, but they are not a direct port over from 09. Of course not all the courses are open from the get-go, so you need to put a bit of time in prior to being able to play all of them. Here is a list of all 16 courses for the truly curious:
1. TPC Sawgrass
3. St. Andrews
4. Bethpage Black
5. Bay Hill Club & Lodge
6. Firestone CC
7. Oakmont CC
8. Doral Golf Resort & Spa
9. Pinehurt #2
10. Wentworth West
12. Pebble Beach Golf Links
13. TPC Boston
14. Hazeltine National Golf Club
15. East Lake Golf Club
16. Torrey Pines
All in all there is a nice mix of courses here, from the traditional ones (Pebble Beach or TPC Sawgrass) to a few fantasy ones. Being Canadian, I really think more Canadian courses should be included. Of course Tiger Woods 10 supports Downloadable Content, so there will be more courses offered in the future, but at a cost.
Reviewing Tiger Woods 10 is somewhat predictable in some way, given that there is nothing earth shatteringly new in terms of game modes.
There are your traditional modes that are common to anyone with any level of golf knowledge (e.g. stroke or match play) and of course there are those traditional modes that a lot of people may not even know of (e.g Bingo Bango Bongo or Stableford). All of these make a return to Tiger Woods 10. So on that note, I will not detail them here. Should you desire more than the traditional play, then don’t worry as mini-games make their return too. From playing the now well known T.I.G.E.R (like H.O.R.S.E) to playing a neat little game of Capture the Flag by hitting your opponents bull’s-eyes. It is clear that traditional modes, mini-games and other included golf types make up a whole lot of play for Tiger Woods 10.
So a lot of what makes Tiger Woods PGA Tour seems to have been carried over from last year. Don’t worry though; there are a few news additions to this year’s version.
The first notable addition is the new Tournament Challenge which replaces the Tiger Challenges from last year. Here you will be trying to replicate or beat events/situations that actually happened in real life tournaments in the past. This was a nice change from the Tiger Challenges given that these new challenges in Tiger Woods 10 aere based on a rich history of some pretty amazing golf events. You earn points for each challenge you beat and later ones can only be unlocked by accumulating a specific number of points from the earlier ones. Trust me; there are some pretty amazing things for you to do here.
Another new addition, and along the lines of “real-life”, is the new tournament modes that compliment the already existing GamerNet technology that EA employs in the game. One of the most interesting is the new Live Online Tournaments. Here you actually record scores against other real world Tiger Woods 10 players, or you can post against real pros that happen to be on the same real course at that time. This was evident during the U.S. Open that just occurred over a week or so ago (depends on when this review is posted). The Live Online mode will allow you to take on bragging rights and there is something to be said about playing against people who have posted real scores. After checking this out I have to say that there are some really good Tiger players out there already and I have quite the road ahead of me to be competitive.
To add to the gameplay experience EA has added a new form of putting called Precision Putting. If anyone has played any Tiger Woods Golf in the past then they know that you could choose different putters or putting shots depending on how far away you might be. This time however you are reliant on one putter and one type of shot. The new meter now shows exactly how far you will need to bring back the putter. You need to have a steady hand as if you pull to the left or right you can see the new meter show where you went off kilter so to speak. Of course you need to adjust for slope or weather (e.g. rain) as well. All in all it works pretty well and I think it is a nice addition for anyone who picks up this game and wants both accuracy and challenge.
The final addition that is worth mentioning is called Live Weather. This feature basically adds real weather updates powered by the Weather Channel. So, if is actually raining in Carmel, California, then you will find that Tiger Woods 10 virtual Pebble Beach will have rain too. This is a neat feature given it has the ability to give the game a little more realism. I found it neat that when I had this feature activated how the weather the course I was playing in Tiger Woods 10 was representative of the real world and what the weather was there. It was pretty cool to tell you the truth.
In terms of multiplayer, everything that Tiger Woods 10 was known for last year makes a triumphant return. From the ability to have four players online at once to sitting around a friend’s house and hitting the virtual links with your favorite golf player. All in all there is not a whole lot to talk about here as it is pretty much the same as last year, which in the end is not a really bad thing.
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