Pros: Online Play, Live Tournaments, PGA Tour Season, EA Gameface, Live Weather
Cons: Game Mechanics, Difficulty, Announcers, Price of Add-Ons, Fun Factor, Skills and Attributes, Precision Putter
EA Sports just released Tiger Woods PGA Tour 11 this week, but I am usually a cheap skate and can't bring myself to drop close to $60 on a video game so I picked up TW PGA Tour 10 for $15.99 in the used games bin at my local game shop. Regardless of your personal feelings for Tiger Woods and the events surrounding his life the past few months, the TW line of videogames has always been solid.
I kind of have mixed feelings about TW10' for PS3. My favorite Tiger Woods game to date is still TW 2005 for Xbox and PS2. The game was hard at times but really fun and had a lot of fun elements to it. It seems that over the years EA has tried to turn down the fun factor in favor of a more realistic golfing experience, which is fine to a degree, but I just feel that the last few releases of the Tiger Woods game have been lackluster at best compared to how the game used to be.
Let me start by saying that TW10 has some great game modes and a variety of events and tournaments you can play in. The game play is the same and uses the analog stick for the swing. You can also switch to the classic "3-click" swing in the options if you prefer that version instead. The game modes are the same from previous version of the Tiger Woods game and include favorites such as PGA Tour Season, Tournament Challenge, Target Golf, etc. There are a multitude of online modes and a new Live Tournament mode which allows you to compete in Daily and Weekly tournaments against other members of the EA Sports community. The results are posted and you are ranked against everyone else online and there is also a career money list for online play so you can rank and compare yourself to the rest of the gaming community.
There is also a great Live Tournament mode called "Play Against the Pros." Basically it works this way. Every week during PGA Tour Season you can compete against the scores of the big boys on tour. The game will select a course as close as possible to the one that the PGA guys are playing and you get to play all 4 rounds with the live scores from the tournament serving as the "leaderboard." At the end of the tournament you are awarded money based on your finish. If playing against a live opponent is more your thing, basically every single game mode is available to play online against other players from all over the world, creating a very deep online gaming experience. You can team up with friends or strangers in a skins game, 4-ball, alternate shot, etc. Online play is really where Tiger Woods PGA Tour 10 excels and this is where you will probably find most of your enjoyment with the game.
Besides the online play, the other best features of the game are the Gameface player creator and Live Weather feature. EA Sports has always been great with giving players the ability to create life like versions of themselves for their videogames and TW10 is another great version of that. You can pretty much edit everything, from the depth of the dimples on your face to your bicep and calf muscle size. Instead of the standard selections, all appearance attributes now have sliders that you can adjust so that you can customize yourself as closely as possible. There is also an additional feature that allows you to crop a photo of your face in to make your player appear as natural as possible. Live Weather is exactly what it says. Through the PSN Network, TW10 links up with the Weather Channel for up to date weather conditions. This means if it is pouring buckets in Orlando when you are playing the game, it will be raining when you play at Bay Hill on the game. It's pretty awesome and allows for the ultimate in game play for the online and off-line game modes, as well as for the PGA Tour season.
Other than these features I found myself otherwise unmoved by the latest version of Tiger Woods. The game still lacks the fun factor that past versions have had and the game mechanics are downright wacky at times. EA Sports also made a huge error by eliminating Gary McCord and David Feherty as the announcers and instead they now use Scott Vanpelt(ESPN) and Kelly Tilghman(The Golf Channel). The commentary on course is now sub-par at best and at times a bit rude. It also seems like the library of comments is limited to 9 or 10 comments, where in past versions of the game you would go awhile before hearing McCord say the same thing twice. Tilghman and Vanpelt sound bland even when you make a big shot and overall are very unimpressive as an announcing duo.
Leveling up your golfer takes forever in this game just due to one fact, your attributes change live as you play the game. This means that you get attribute increases for every good shot or putt and attribute decreases for every bad shot and putt. While this is actually a fairly unique concept and one EA has had success with in their NBA, NHL and football games, it is very poorly done in Tiger Woods 10. Your attributes are based on a decimal scale instead of the 0-100 scale and the point increases and decreases are way too inconsistent to make leveling up fun. You can shoot a round of 65 and still end up losing major attribute points. Your power increases are also based on the number of fairways you hit so you can get penalized for playing on tight courses or when the wind level is high. You can no longer purchase attribute points so leveling can take a long time and you will be stuck hitting sub par shots because the game play mechanics and leveling system are very poor. You can increase your attributes by buying clubs and clothing at the pro shop that have bonus modifiers but they are often insanely expensive or very difficult to unlock so it takes a long time to get them. The majority of even the middle of the road items have to be unlocked by winning tournaments and challenges.
Game mechanics are next to zero in Tiger Woods 10. I can hit better shots in real life than I can in this game sometimes and that is one of the things that drives me nuts about the game. The power and spin control is non-existent and the club spin is inconsistent at best. A lob wedge will back-spin at least 10-15 feet regardless of whether or not you overspin or backspin it. A 7-iron hits and sticks right where it lands, while a 6-iron bounds over the green even on max backspin. You can de-loft or add loft on shots by using the right stick, but it makes a difference of about a yard, where in real golf it would play a significant role in shot trajectory and yardage. The precision putter system is anything but, and putts will often leave you shaking your head. The green read system is awful, it will tell you the putt breaks one way or is downhill but when you play the break it is nowhere close to the indicators and the speed is way off.
The wind and rough are also very inconsistent. If the wind is 10mph at your back it will give you an extra 10-15 yards off the tee, but an 8mph wind at your back does next to nothing. Hitting in the deep rough will give you a tough lie rated about 75-80% on the lie meter, but the ball will still react as if you are hitting out of a 100% lie and often fly the green by 20 yards. Overall the gameplay mechanics in this game are not good at all. While the average videogame player probably won't notice or care, if you are any type of golfer in your personal life, you will get frustrated with the game very easily.
Lastly, I find it utterly ridiculous how much you have to pay for add-ons for the game. While the game does come with some nice courses like Bay Hill, Harbor Town, Pebble Beach, Bethpage, St. Andrews, etc. there are add-on courses that come out every so often. As of right now I believe there are 10 additional courses you can download from the PSN network. However, these courses will cost you a pretty penny at $7.50 a piece. So basically if you download 3-4 courses you might as well have bought the game over again. I understand capitalism and that add-ons should cost something, but $7.50 a course is ridiculous, and you also have to take into account that if you haven't purchased and downloaded some of the courses, you won't be able to take part in some of the online or live tournaments that take place at the courses. So if you want to get the full experience, you are kind of forced to pay the steep price for a golf course.
So that is Tiger Woods PGA Tour 10 in a nutshell. I don't know if I will try the 2011 version or not. I can't bring myself to pay full price for a game and honestly this franchise has been going downhill since the 2007 series came out. In trying to make the game so realistic, they have taken out most of the aspects that made the early Tiger Woods games so fun and successful. As always, I hope you have enjoyed this reveiw and found it helpful. Please feel free to post any comments or suggestions!