Keeping out of the tabloids and on the course where he belongs, the most distinguished man in golf tees off in ‘Tiger Woods PGA Tour 11.’
‘EA Sports' returns for another annual outing on the green, and after one of the most publicised years for spokesperson ‘Tiger Woods,’ EA and developing studio Tiburon have kept things in perspective by getting down to business to recreating another faithful edition in the ‘Tiger Woods’ series. Not overly ambitious, ‘Tiger Woods PGA Tour 11’ sticks to its pitch perfect formula, providing several noteworthy upgrades.
See Like A Pro
Getting right into it, one of the most interesting features in this year’s edition is ‘True Aim,’ a feature that lets you enjoy a game of golf from the perspective of a pro. Immersing in a new level of authenticity, ‘True Aim’ removes the helpers that made ‘Tiger Woods’ more of a video-game by turning into more of a real-life simulation sporting event. Using in game markers and judging shots from reactions introduces the extra level of realism that helps get you into the game. This can be toggled on and off, so if you are just not into it you can revert to the old standby. However, I can see most of gamers sticking with this mode from now on. There is something invigorating about not being exact, and when you're dealing with the game of golf, skill has a lot to do with it, but so does luck.
May the "Focus" Be with You
Together with 'True-Aim,' the new 'Shot Focus' attribute is another helper to get your score below par. Shot Focus enhances your accuracy by shrinking aiming circle down for a more precise shot. I found this ability most important when chipping on onto the putting green. However, you have to keep in mind that this attribute pools from your other ‘focus’ abilities that including boost, additional spin, and the all-important putting previews. Not having unlimited focus really changes up the way you play the game adding a little more strategy into the mix. Instead of becoming instantly as skilled as a tiger, you will need to keep an eye on this little red meter on the lower-left corner of your screen, as it can a game maker.
The Ryder Cup
Next ‘Tiger’ introduces the ‘Ryder Cup,’ which has been competitive match up between pros from the USA vs. Europe for over 80 years. Picking either side, you will building a team of twelve competitors as you compete in a series of events in hopes to bring the cup back to your home country. Although, more pros could have been added to the list to flush out your options a little more. Nevertheless, this alternating match up can be played with or without your created characters, along with several other customizable tweaks. Competing in the ‘Ryder Cup’ will keep you busy as you jump in and out of matches to help your team pull off the win. Swapping matches made this mode a favourite of mine and it is nice to see Samuel Ryder’s cup added to the list of available features.
Making a Champion
To build a champion out of your created character you will need a hefty dose of XP. XP points are rewarded anytime, online or off. Simple rewards are given out like hitting the fairway to harder ones like landing an eagle. The XP points are delegated to your character to improve any of their 11 unique skills. You can also improve aspects of your swing to refine it into a perfectly pitched tool with the ‘Swing Tuner.’ The Swing Tuner is a nice new addition, however it is more for the long time, big ‘Tiger Woods’ players and not the casual gamers. Additionally, 'Skill Challenges' play a large role in earning more XP while going head-to-head against other golfers. Each challenge (power, accuracy, control, or putting) is fun to run through with an increasing level of difficulty unlocking as you progress. Skill challenges are accessed from the career section and give a great idea of what each golfer’s strengths are.
What Else is New
In terms of new content ‘Tiger Woods PGA Tour 11’ adds five new courses including the 2010 Ryder Cup local, the ‘Celtic Manor Resort.’ A few extra golfers have also been added and they are Stephen Ames, Paul Caey, Danny Lee, Boo Weekley, and Suzann Pettersen. To sweeten the deal, 'EA Sports' claims that the Playstation 3 edition of ‘PGA Tour 11’ will support the ‘Playstation Move’ controller, which will undoubtedly add value to the game. DLC is also planned with some fantasy courses coming our way.
In a growing, trend ‘EA Sports’ includes a voucher to unlock online play, a sort-of insurance that the serious fans will buy ‘Tiger Woods’ over renting or purchasing a used copy. If you fall into one of those categories, you will have to purchase the game for an online pass. Online things are rocking and rolling with a generous amount of activities to keep you busy. The addition of team play gets the spot light and will be a favourite with friends online. Want to hit up strangers, well have a go in the single player portion first because there are some sharks roaming the online greens.
Easing Into the Green
Lastly, ‘Tiger’ has a solid introductory tutorial that is set up to get you rolling in your newly signed pro’s career. This is perfect for those who have not played a ‘Tiger Woods’ game in a while, or for those who want to run over the new features. The in-depth tutorial can be skipped per lesson with XP rewards to encourage the player to stick with it. If you manage to hang in with the advanced lessons, you will be ready for the competition on the real green. My only complaint to the whole career mode is that too many inventory items are locked from the start, and the character creation is getting a little dated. I feel like the ‘Tiger’ series could use a little improvement in the graphics department, and even though the animations are strong, the modeling still looks a little plastic.
If its been a few years, or even last year since you’ve teed off with EA Sports golfing series, you will want take a closer look to the new tweaks provided in its 11th edition. The Ryder Cup is a superb bullet point for the back of the box, however the real selling ‘True Aim’ feature that makes you truly feel like your playing the game from the perspective of a pro. The only downside is the trending "back of manual" code to unlock multiplayer. If you are one for online golfing, make sure you pick this one up new. Aside from a buyer-beware warning, ‘Tiger Woods PGA Tour 11’ is a solid investment for those rainy days when you are not enjoying the real deal.
Gameplay:8.5, Graphics:7.5, Sound:8.5, Innovation:7.2, Mojo:8.5 Final: 8.0 / 10
Reviewed by Downtown Jimmy | 06.14.10