Keepin' His Eye On the Ball
Last year, I was blown away by all of the content, features, and accessibility of Tiger Woods PGA Tour 09 All-Play. Usually there isn't a real reason to invest in yearly editions of sports franchises as they feel more like expansions than full-fledged new games. This isn't the case at least for the Wii version of Tiger Woods PGA Tour 10. Dropping the All-Play moniker and picking up Wii MotionPlus use, does Tiger Woods still swing with the best of them, or is it high time EA and the gang return to the clubhouse?
The biggest edition this year just so happens to be bundled with one of the SKUs of the game-- Wii MotionPlus. Along with Grand Slam Tennis and Virtua Tennis 2009, Tiger Woods is one of the first games to utilize Nintendo's new peripheral. Let it be known that this small device clipped to the bottom of the Wii works, and it works wonderfully. Last year's installment worked adequately, and it read your swing. However you could cheat and not perform a full swing. Not so much with Tiger Woods 10... At least not so much with MotionPlus attached. To drive the ball with 100% power you need not a strong swing but a smart one. That is, a soft, smooth stroke is all that is required. WM+ reads how you move the club in an almost 1:1 fashion. Then again, 1:1 talk is just relegated to message board arguments anyway, so what it does it matter? It works well, and that's all that matters. It's important to keep your wrists straight because you'll draw or fade the ball if you don't, sending your shot careening unintentionally to the left or right.
Not all shots require 100% power to reach the green. In fact, some can have your ball roaring past the hole. When push comes to shove, you'll need to adjust your own stance. Perhaps not bringing the Wii remote so far back or not using as much speed on your follow-through. Thankfully, there's an ability to take practice swings on any shot with the push of a button. It's not as simple as analog control, but it makes the game that much more rewarding in the end. At the start you'll be struggling to hit the ball straight and with enough power, but once you get it and start recording good scores, you'll fall in love.
Approach shots require less of a half circle motion swing and more about speed while putting has been severely overhauled for this year's Tiger. There's still the Classic Putting mode which has you utilizing a plethora of putters in attempts to sink your shots. How far you bring back the Wii remote makes the side gauge rise higher emulating your stroke strength. A putt preview gives you the option to check if your current shot set-up will make to the hole. If not, you need to manually adjust since the putt preview is a one time per hole deal. There's also a brand new putting option, Precision Putting. This putting mode gives you just one club, and getting it in the hole is all about how hard and straight you hit it. It's just like putting in real life.
There's three swing difficulties in the game. The All-Play is perfect for young and inexperienced golfers. It shows the line of where the ball is going to go, and hitting 100% is an effortless experience. Standard is your typical mode that most players should frequently use. Advanced removes the putt preview option, so you feel like you're playing like the pro you are. Get on with your bad self.
Last year's Tiger Woods game was jam-packed with content, and this year is no different. There's a large variety of single-player and multi-player modes to sink your feverish teeth into. Get ready to waste the most amount of time in the Career mode. Here you create your own golfer using a bevy of options and purchase new wardrobe, clubs, and equipment from the Shop. Hats, shirts, pants, shoes, socks, wristbands, watches, glasses, jewelry, clubs, shafts, balls, and more are available to purchase. Do it. The economy needs your support! You can also spend Wii Points on wacky bonus costumes like a knight or bunny rabbit if you have 100 points burning a hole in your account(hence the Pay-to-Play logo which is more like Pay-to-Use). You can earn experience points from playing well with your custom golfer, and these can be used to build his or her stats from how far your golfer can strike the ball, how well he or she can putt, or how well he or she can make it out of the rough or bunker-- to name a few.
So what do you do with your newly born golfer now that he or she is a budding beginner? Why, take them into the three areas of Career mode, of course! The first of which is the PGA Tour Season where you start off playing in amateur tournaments gaining prestige, cash, new sponsorships, and more cash. The way to the big leagues is fraught with challenges that must be passed in order to advance up the PGA ladder. In the PGA Tour Season you'll go all the way to playing majors such as the U.S. and British Opens all the while taking on tour legends such as Tiger Woods and Vijay Singh in semi-weekly 1-4 round competitions. Second up is the FedExCup that allows you to fast-forward past the hard work and skill it takes to make it to the FedExCup and leap directly into four tournaments of playoff goodness where the best man and best score determines the champion of it all.
Replacing the Tiger Challenge mode from last year is the Tournament Challenge mode where you relive the greatest moments of PGA history and completely alter the past which in turn ruins the future. ...Ahem. Well, you do get to relive the greatest moments at the very least. Sixteen courses each have three challenges on them-- an easy, medium, and hard challenge. Beating the easy challenge will unlock the medium challenge whereas completing the medium challenge will unlock the hard. Finishing off the hard challenge will unlock that course for play along with a new professional or two. Challenges range from stroke or match play battles with a computer opponent, long drive, putting and closest-to-the-pin challenges, and good old fashioned traditional "beat the score" challenges spread across one, three, six, or nine holes.
As if the Career mode wasn't good enough for friendships to be broken and lives to be ruined, the Wii-exclusive Golf Party mode has returned. Party mode is an arcade-themed collection of entertaining mini-games. At the start, players choose how many games they wish to play-- 5,10, or 15. The player with the most points at the end of the game, earned by winning the party games or by lucking out on in-game bonuses, wins the party. Ball battles return where when a player's ball is in the air, the player and his/her opponents can influence the direction of the ball by pulling and spinning it in various directions. Certain jerks will love ruining a perfect green shot and turning it into a water hazard. This certain jerk did at the very least. As for the individual games, there's Capture-the-Flag like mini-games where you try to chip or putt your ball into your opponent's hole in order to take it over. Mind. Gutter. Out. Other modes include speed golf where strokes don't matter, ring golf, a rapid-fire shooting gallery where you get a set amount of time to drive the ball through as many targets of different point values as possible, and gimmick games like ball juggling with the Wii remote and a ball-collection range cart game. The latter are two are interesting novelties.
One game that definitely isn't a novelty is the incredible disc golf mode. It's the same rules as traditional golf, but instead of throwing your whole body into directing a ball, you're using your arm to direct a disc. MotionPlus really shines with this mode making it clear that if you mess up a throw, you have no one to blame for but yourself this time. Blast! My attempts at blaming it on the controller are foiled! Disc golf really feels like its own game as every course unlocked in the golf side of the game can be used to play disc golf.
Something already unlocked and available from the start of play is the comprehensive online mode. Last year's was terrific, and this year it's even better. It's not just good for the Wii-- it's good in general. All you need to hop online is an EA tag which can be used on any EA Wii game such as Madden or Grand Slam Tennis. Of course, if you don't have one, you just have to quickly sign up and receive on straight from the game's online lobby. You can play ranked against a random stranger in the internets, set up your own game, or call on your friends with the EA messenger, creating buddy lists and contacting them with ease. You can take turns playing or you can all play at the same time. Your shots are shown on your opponents' screens as colored arcs and lines. Very cool for those who want to have a high-tech foursome and not wait in between shots. Mind. Gutter. Out. Finally, there's daily one-round tournaments and special week-long four-round tournaments that you can play at your own leisure to try to top the leaderboards. You can even play against the pros as they play various tournaments live with the scores updating on a consistent basis. Beginners beware.
This year's edition has commentary by The Golf Channel's Kelly Tillman and ESPN's Scott van Pelt of Sportscenter fame. Van Pelt replaces Sam Torrence from last year, and while some of Torrence's dialogue is recycled by Van Pelt this year, most of what is heard is brand new. There's still problems with the duo where putts slope like a mountain and they say the lie is perfectly straight. Otherwise, they'll tolerable. Visually, the game is a step-up from the laziness that shot out from last year's version. There could still be work with all of the jagged edges on courses, characters, and objects, and tress that are as static as television sets that still haven't upgraded to digital, but overall things look a lot nicer.
Tiger Woods PGA Tour 10 is a dramatic improvement to a game that was already filled to the brim with content and entertainment. Wii MotionPlus adds an entirely new dimension to gameplay, and it's all for the better. Being that it's optional, the game is still a blast with the Wii remote by itself. Some players might actually prefer that if they can develop their golf swing properly. With three Career modes, a comprehensive character creator, 27 courses from Wolf Creek to T.P.C Boston to Pebble Beach, a highly competent online system, and Wii MotionPlus, Tiger's golf bag is stuffed this year.
[SuperPhillip Says: 9.25/10]