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Tiger Woods PGA Tour 10 – The PS3 Attitude Review

Submitted by on Tuesday, 7 July 2009No Comment

tw10-boxartUnlike the recently reviewed Fight Night Round 4, EA Sports’ Tiger Woods franchise is one of those that the publishing behemoth tends to bring around once a year.

Some years the franchise is improved, whilst other times you can actually hear sighs across the country as consumers realise they’ve been duped into spending their hard-earned cash on nothing more than the same game with different clothes.

So, with Tiger Woods PGA Tour 10, which is it to be? A classic year, and one for the golfing connoisseurs amongst you, or will it be like matching a new set of clubs with the same old tired swing?

There are a number of ‘firsts’ with this year’s Tiger Woods PGA Tour title, the first of those being the rules and regulations you play your golf by.

The entire USGA Rules of Golf make their début appearance within the game. In addition, TW10 also features the US Open and the USGA Championship.

The Weather Channel provides real-time live weather conditions for the game, allowing you to play the course as if you were really there. Thanks to the time differences, that does mean that there is clearly some skulduggery going on somewhere, since when we were reviewing this title we were playing TPC Sawgrass at what would have been 4 a.m. in the US! We suspect that either the weather is on a time delay, or a ‘clear night’ equals a ‘sunny day’ within the game…

The Sunset Strip at Torrey Pines...

The Sunset Strip at Torrey Pines...

In addition to these new features you’ll find the Tournament Challenge mode. Whilst it may seem like a slightly dressed up version of the previous challenge modes from earlier TW titles, this time around you are set the challenge of ‘meeting or beating’ famous moments from golfing history. Indeed, the presentation of these challenges is often enhanced through a retrospective interview and footage of the actual event ahead of your attempts to replicate the feat.

Keeping up with the new features, this year’s Daily Tournament feature adds a ‘Play the Pros’ level, where you can post your scores versus the actual PGA Tour scores being registered in the actual tournament itself.

Featuring 28 courses in all and a roster of players that reads like a Who’s Who of golf, the developers at EA Tiburon have really pulled out the stops for this edition of the Tiger Woods franchise.

In fact, the depth and range of gaming options is close to bewildering. Of course, you have the usual ‘Play Now’ mode that will launch you into a game using any set of conditions, but it is the other modes that will leave you impressed.

Traditional modes include stroke play, matchplay and a range of ‘money games’, like ‘skins’ or ‘bingo bango bongo’. You’ll also get Stableford, alternate shot, best ball, bloodsome, greensome, four ball, one ball and the return of the often frantic battle golf.

Mini games offer the usual mix of shot-improving or friend-bashing options including target golf, T.I.G.E.R., capture the flag (yes, seriously) and various contests (long drive, closest to the pin etc.)

There is a full online experience that plays just as well as the previous incarnation of Tiger Woods without much change or adjustment, although you can now ‘power-cap’ the clubs to stop being over-run by full-stat players who can drive further than John Daly. In fact, the club distances have been brought back into line generally throughout the game, with around 40 yards distance taken off each club on average, and drivers that can just about reach 325 yards at a push. Much more realistic, and the game feels better for it.

Also more realistic is the new putting mechanism, which allows you to line up your putt based on the easy-to-read grid-lines and then test your assumptions once through a press of the L1 button. After you’ve seen whether you have got it right and adjusted accordingly, putting is a matter of smoothly pulling back and then pushing forward on the analogue stick. Wayward movement will cause the putter to pull or push the shot, just like in real life.

But it is the career mode that really shines through. You have a full PGA Tour Season you can play through, earning money and Fedex Cup points as the tour progresses. Each four-day tournament offers you the chance to simulate the rounds but the game always requires you to play the final day to ensure you don’t just bluff your way through.

After each day of the tournament, your coach will work out where you are failing and set you a range of up to four drills. These will range from driving to approach shots and short game to putting. If you complete the first part of the drill, you’ll earn stat boosters, after which you can complete the ‘coach’s challenge’ and try for an extra bonus boost on top.

The stats actually work better than in any of the Tiger Woods games that came before it because of this approach. Your goal is to reach 10 in each of the four disciplines, and if you play a bad round your stats can actually go down instead of up.

Couple this with the fact that items cost a lot more than they used to and you’ll find the progression within the tour is a lot more gradual than it has been in recent years. This makes you want to play the game more, whereas we have often found that it is all too easy to build your stats and equipment up easily within previous versions of the game, making the PGA Tour element boring, easy and predictable.

Other additions this year include the chance to practice anywhere on any of the unlocked courses and ‘tune’ your clubs. You can change how much ‘workability’ and distance each club has and completely modify the contents of your bag to suit your style or the management of a particular course.

McDonalds were pleased with the subtlety of their product placement

McDonald's were pleased with the subtlety of their product placement

Tiger Woods PGA Tour 10 doesn’t disappoint in the customisation of your golfer and his equipment either. The usual range of clothing items, accessories, balls and clubs are here in force, and the excellent Game Face feature is as detailed as it ever has been.

In fact there are only three areas where graphically TW10 lets you down somewhat. The first is with the Photo Game Face feature. Unlike the equivalent option in Fight Night Round 4, which is very quick and has the effect of putting a better version of you in the game, Tiger Woods takes forever to process your downloaded photo or PlayStation Eye snap; and when it does the result is, all too often, a little bizarre. Many times the system won’t even out the skin tone across the face and you’ll end up looking like a victim of the 80s, with half your face looking like you’ve applied white face-paint.

The second graphical gripe belongs to the crowd who witness your awesome achievements. They don’t react if you hit them with a ball. They all look pretty much the same. And they all seem to move in unison with one another. The result is a rather Stepford Wives feel to the appreciative crowd who, on the plus side, sound fantastic as usual.

The final issue is cosmetic at best, but you do sometimes see some framerate issues during the before or after-shot cut-scenes, which whilst not affecting the gameplay do ruin the overall smoothness and effect the game has on you.

But none of these three issues will cause you any problem in the slightest. In fact the only reason we’re pointing them out is because they have slightly ruin what otherwise is a flawless presentation on the part of EA. Heck, they even keep the autosave messages to a minimum with this EA Sports title, which is a welcome advancement over other recent franchises such as FIFA and Fight Night.

In fact the one thing you’ll notice outside of the brilliant audio effects is that the commentary is spot on and EA have dropped the standard EA Trax. Gone are the badly selected and frankly misplaced hip-hop tracks and in come the original background tunes, perfectly fitting for the game of golf. This is a gentlemen’s game, after all, and the bombastic track-list from the last few years was the audio equivalent of the player’s wives treading all over the greens in their stilettos.

Just when you thought that you’d had enough features and additions to the game, each round is spiced up through the addition of GamerNet Challenges. As you play through a course, you’ll be notified of longest drive, closest to the pin and other challenges that have been set up by Tiger Woods players across the world. In fact, setting up a challenge for others to beat is a simple process and never ruins the flow of your round – we were able to set up challenges within a minute once we got slick with the system.

Beating these challenges earns you GamerNet points which go towards a leader-board and the opportunity to trounce your friends. By setting challenges you earn ‘producer points’, and by beating them you gain ‘player points’. These are tallied up daily to show today’s leader, and offer a real incentive to keep on playing your best with every shot.

There may not be a formula for EA releases as you might see with games like Final Fantasy, where the ‘odd’ titles are considered better than the ‘even’ ones, but there is no doubt in our minds that this is, by some distance, the best Tiger Woods game in a very long time. In fact, it is probably the best golf game ever on any platform and is set to run and run thanks to extra DLC and the online tournaments EA have planned for the future.

Really, Tiger Woods PGA Tour 10 is a must-buy for all PS3 owners, not just those who like their sports to involve walking four miles after a small white ball for hours on end.