Tiger Woods is now the David Beckham of golf. He’s one title away from his fifteenth major, an incredible feat during his golfing career. And he’s also once again the face of the PGA Tour series after having recently signed another contract to front the series.
And boy has it grown over the years. I can vaguely remember switching Tiger Woods 99 on for the first time and being amazed at the efforts to produce a 3D golf game. Eleven years later and we’re onto number 10. Well 2010 at least. Considering its only just summer as well, these yearly updates are seemingly released earlier and earlier. Ultimately though, what on earth has changed from 2009 and is it actually worth any of your hard-earned cash?
Weather effects are now one of the major changes to the game last year, provided by The Weather Channel (a big station in America). Although in the past we’ve seen attempts at wind speeds, we’ve never actually played in the full on rain. But all that has changed and can change at any given point during the course of play. And best of all, if you are connected online and a championship is taking place, the weather will reflect conditions of the real life counterpart. So if it’s raining and blowing a gale up at Turnberry in Scotland for The Open, if you fire up the game you’ll also be battling the elements albeit without actually getting wet. It isn’t that clever yet!
And this is why it is ultimately crucial to be connected online otherwise you’ll miss out on these new features. Whilst the popular offline modes and local multiplayer are present including Match Play, Skins and Tournament, to get the best from the game you need to have a Live subscription.
News feeds litter the menu with information on tournaments taking place in real life and it is here that Tiger Woods 10 excels any other sports game on the market. You can play the exact tournaments on the exact days they take place in real life in the Be a Pro mode. Scores will appear from the real matches alongside yours with tournaments running from Thursday to Sunday.
But is this enough to entice you to part with the previous game? After all, last year introduced a plethora of new features which revolutionized the series and arguably made it the best yet. And so far there is nothing particularly different with this year’s title.
True, for the first time the US Open is included with all the official USGA rules and regulations which will keep seasoned golfers happy. You can add to the list of courses six new ones which include Bethpage Black, Hazeltine, Oakmount, Pinehurst, Torrey Pines and Turnberry which each offer something different for golfers. There are already two downloadable courses online, with one of which is fantasy; all at a cost of 600MSP each, a little steep but fair if you should tire of the courses included.
Tournament challenge is the other new mode which has replaces last years, Tiger Challenge. It features a variety of historical events that have taken place with you trying to attempt to follow them and complete it exactly as it happened in the past. We’ve seen this elsewhere before however, so it is a slightly underwhelming option to include.
Two new golfers join the ranks including Anthony Kim and Rocco Mediate but that is unlikely to excite most of us. On the control front the biggest change is the putting. Labelled the ‘analogue putting’ it enhances putting to make it as realistic as possible. It is an improvement and makes it somewhat easier to putt, but it still for me is one of the most frustrating aspects of a golf game. That said my putting in real life isn’t much better, so perhaps it has that on par.
Graphically the courses look rich and vibrant and the rain dampens things up a little making the courses slower. The crowd has also received a subtle tweak and now seems to cheer much more or groan depending on how decent a shot is. It is all very minimalistic however and it seems that EA have taken golfing games on the current generation hardware as far as they can go. Of course there is room for improvement and there are notable areas in play which look a bit fake; but apart from that it seems they are slowly running out of ideas.
You have to ask yourself, do you really want to keep levelling up that custom created golfer, year after year? The same pattern is emerging each year, and each time it does so I get a little bored. Starting off on a career is all good and well when the game releases every few years, but once you’ve got your stats to a decent level it is practically time for the next release. Unless you cheat and max them out by spending some Microsoft Points!
EA perhaps need to re-think the series. It still is a great game and has possibly reached the height of this generation. With some superb online features that thankfully brings version 10 up a peg or two. But is it justifiable now to release a yearly instalment or would they be better off releasing premium updates to current versions of the game? Only EA can answer that question, but they better start thinking fast because the series could become a little stale too soon.