I have always been a fan of the Tiger Woods series even though I'm not a golf fan.
I was very impressed with last years edition, and this remains the tradition this time around. The new edition has some very nice additions which make the game more realistic and provides more interactivity with the real world.
The graphics are nearly the same but have been updated a little bit. This hasn't been a problem for me as I thought the graphics on the previous version were impressive. The gameplay remains practically the same which again is good for me as I'm used to the style of it. You still have the option between the TrueSwing and the 3 Click System which gives a good balance of the game.
EA Sports have provided users with the chance to use a real weather system which has been implemented. This allows you to play on a course with the real weather that is current in the area. So for example, if you were playing on Gary Player CC in South Africa, and the current weather was rain, then it would rain on your game.
The online mode remains practically the same, it's still simultaneous play which is good as it won't lag and you can get on with your round without having to wait for the rest of the players to finish theirs.
One complaint is the Pro Shop, where the items are terribly expensive. For example $30,000 for a t-shirt! To make this more realistic, surely $30 would be more appropriate.
Overall, the game is an improvement over last year but not by much. Some nice additions sees this game get a hole-in-one from me.
EA Have been making Tiger Woods games since the end of the 1990's. Although I'm not really a golf fan, I have tapped into this series on a couple of occasions previously with the 2004 and 2008 editions. Both these editions were on the PC so I decided to take the plunge and buy Tiger Woods 2010 on the Xbox 360. I was reluctant to pay the full asking price of £40, so when I saw it reduced to £30 in Game I decided to buy it.
Real Time Weather
For the first time, Tiger Woods 2010 boasts realtime weather. This means that if its raining on your selected course at the time you are playing your round, it will be raining in the game. This is a nice touch and is very appropriate when playing online tournaments as people who have the better conditions will have more of a chance of posting a decent score, sadly, this doesn't apply to me as I am equally as bad at this game whatever the conditions.
Creating your golfer
In order to play Tiger Woods to its full potential, you need to first create your golfer. There are two ways of doing this, the simplest way is to go through a series of attributes for skin colour, hair colour/style, eye, colour style, etc. This is relatively simple to do but doesn't create a golfer that bears much resemblance to yourself. Tiger Woods 10 uses something called Photo Game Face which has appeared in the last 2 or 3 versions of the game. Photo Game Face allows you to upload front and side face photos of yourself to easportsworld.com and the game will then try and create your face based on the facial features on your photos. I found this wasn't all that accurate as my golfer looked orange, like he'd spent half the day on the tanning tables. I think in time, Photo Game Face will be a great addition to the game but there is still a lot of work to be done to get accurate results.
Whenever you play a round of golf with your custom golfer, all parts of your game are analysed and rated. These are broken down into power, accuracy, short game and putting attributes. The higher your rating, the easier it becomes to hit quality shots during your round. After most rounds, your coach will analyse your performance and give you training drills to complete in order to improve your attributes even more. These stats are vitally important if you are to stand a chance online, more of that later.
Tiger Woods 2010 has a whole array of game modes which should keep the player interested for a long time. In most of the modes, you get the choice to either play as one of the PGA tour pros included in the game or as your own created golfer.
Career Mode takes you through an entire season on the PGA tour, playing in all the events throughout the year. The aim of this mode is to become the FedEx Cup champion. You have upto five years to try and achieve this prize and be the number one golfer in the world. You get to play against all the real tour pro's who are extremely difficult to beat. I would recommend playing a few non-competitive rounds before starting this mode as you need to improve your skill attributes greatly to stand a chance on the pro tour.
This option allows you to create a round of gold with any custom settings you wish. You can choose to play as a tour pro or your own custom golfer, you can decide the weather for the round and also the rules of the round, be it strokeplay, matchplay or any of the other variations of golf although some of these such as best ball can only be chosen if there is more than one player taking part. As a self confessed novice, this game mode was ideal for me to get into the game for the first time. It enabled me to get to grips with how much power was required and what club I needed before having the pressure of playing in a proper tournament.
Each course in the game offers you four challenges, each one more difficulty than the previous. Examples of these challenges could be to match Tigers birdie on the 17th at Sawgrass in 2001 or to equal Paul Casey's 5 under on the outward 9 at St Andrews. Passing each of these challenges unlocks better items of clothing or clubs which will boost specific elements of your game. The early challenges are very simple and can be completed on the first or second attempt. In order to pass the more difficult ones however, you will need to improve your golfers skills greatly.
In my opinion the mini games don't really add much to the game but might give you a welcome distraction after another abysmal round. It is worth noting that some of the mini games require more than one player which is a bit of a shame if you are playing this game on your own.
Target - There are several holes within pitching distance and you have to see how close you can get the ball to each hole. There are targets around the hole and you get more money, the closer you get to the hole. This money can be used to buy items from the PGA shop in the game. In total, you get 20 balls to hit in this game.
Target to Target - This game is similar to Target, the only difference is that you have to take the holes in a defined order.
T-I-G-E-R - I find this game confusing, although the rules are very simple. This is a 2 player game where you have to hit a better shot than the other play in order to avoid being given a letter, the first person to spell out the name TIGER is the loser. In my opinion this is a pretty weak game as the golfer with the better stats will almost certainly win every time, giving it a short lifespan if you want to play with a friend who won't have as much chance as yourself to build up their golfers stats.
Capture the Flag - This again is a 2 player game where you take turns at hitting targets in order to catch them.
Putting Contest - I quite like this game, yet again it's a multi player game but the objective is simple. Each player has three putts from the same location and the one closest to the hole wins.
Approach Contest - Similar to the putting contest but this time, shots are hit from the fairway, making the margin of error greater.
Closest to the Pin Contest - This game follows the same rules as the previous two, this time however you will be hitting your shot from either the rough or from a bunker.
Long Drive Contest - This game in my opinion is very disappointing as the individual players stats will decide who wins. The person who has the highest rating for power will win every time. It would have been nice if a handicap system had been implemented to give weaker players a fairer chance of winning.
I find the control method for Tiger Woods 2010 very intuitive, all you do to take a shot is pull back on the controller for the backswing and then push forward to bring the club down to hit the ball. The controller is very sensitive however so if you don't come down straight, just like in proper golf, you will either hook or slice the ball. You can also attempt to increase the power of your shot by continuously tapping the A button whilst making your backswing.
Once you have hit the ball and it is in flight, you can use the A button and any direction to put spin on the ball. I find it difficult to know where to put topspin or backspin on the ball as normally, I cannot figure out where it will land in relation to the flag. This is a very good feature however and one, if used to its full potential which will knock several shots per round off your final score.
The putting style in Tiger Woods 2010 has changed from previous versions. Now, putting uses the same down then up movements on the control pad as driving does. As I haven't really got into the series on the Xbox before now I think this works really well but some of my friends who have played previous versions still prefer the old method. This is still available from the options menu.
Online play is where Tiger Woods 2010 really excels. You can play a single round as described above with your own options set. This game could be against a friend or a total stranger. As golf is an individual sport, the chances are, you are not going to want to watch a stranger take their shots in between yours. EA to their credit have realised this and have introduced simultaneous play. This means that you can play a hole, almost as you would offline, without worrying about waiting for the other player. You are able to track how the other person or people are doing as their shots are traced on your screen with colourful lines to track the flight of the ball. This works really well and speeds the game up greatly. The game does support voice communication but this works best when playing with friends as a bit of banter adds a bit more bite to the competition.
Tiger Woods 2010 now introduces online tournament play for the very first time. I like this feature a lot, in fact, its probably my favourite part of the game. There are a multitude of tournaments for players of all abilities here, ranging from daily tournaments to weekly tournaments. Daily tournaments consist of one round only so there is very little room for error. I have to say, I am staggered at the winning scores in this tournament as they are usually, 25 under par or something similar whereas I am struggling to even get under par. This can be a little disconcerting when I tend to finish in the bottom 20 of a 1200 player tournament but at least there is room for improvement. The weekly tournaments are more like a proper golf tournament where your total after four rounds represents your final score. These four rounds can be played at any time during the week. I started one of these tournaments but then forgot to complete my other three rounds which is an easy thing to do as there is no in-game reminder that the tournament is about to close. There are also EA Sports and PGA Tour online tournaments but as it stands, I am not good enough to enter these so I cannot comment on their content.
If you are connected to the internet whilst playing then you are eligible for EA Gamernet points. I am still not entirely sure what these points represent, but I think it is Ea's way of coming up with some kind of ranking system to see who is the best golfer around. You are awarded Gamernet points for long drives and getting the ball close to the pin from distance. What I like about Gamernet is that, if you manage to produce an awesome shot you can upload it onto the Gamernet servers so that other people can view the shot. What is even better is that you can challenge other players to reproduce your shot or even try to better it, you get Gamernet points too for doing this and extra bonus points if people fail to beat your challenge.
As this title is on a Microsoft console, there is extra downloadable content as you might expect. For 600 Microsoft points each, there are five additional courses you can download. I don't agree with the fact that you still have to pay extra for more courses after the initial outlay of the game but I would assume that a lot of people would be happy to do this after mastering the courses that come with the game as they would need a new challenge.
Tiger Woods 2010 is an excellent golf simulation. This is a game where you are rewarded for the effort you put in and you'll have to work exceptionally hard in order to create a golfer that can live with the experts when playing online. I found that the learning curve wasn't too steep and a novice like me was able to make a birdie after a couple of rounds. As this is a title that comes out each year, I am not expecting to buy Tiger Woods 2011 as these games do have a tendency to be very similar to the previous years offering, a criticism I have heard labelled at Tiger Woods 2010. Online play on this game really is excellent and I would recommend anyone who has this game and an Xbox Live gold account to give it a go and participate in a tournament. This is a fun game, even for non golfers like myself, I would sincerely recommend it to any sports loving gamers out there.
Thank the lord for video games; only in a virtual world can this thirty something with limited sporting skills pit his wits against the great and the good in various sports. In football games I can cross like Beckham and score like Rooney; in racing games I can go head to head with the likes of Button or Hamilton; and in golfing terms I can swing like a demon as I try to outplay Tiger Woods. For someone who thoroughly agrees with the Mark Twain quote declaring golf to be "a good walk spoilt", Tiger Woods PGA tour 10 for the Xbox 360 is as close to playing the actual game I wish to get. Swapping a five iron or putter for a joypad means I can indulge my fantasies of being a top class sportsman, without being laughed off the course after one errant shot too many slices the ball every which way but towards the hole.
So, how does playing golf on a console work then?
Actually it works surprisingly well. You use the left hand stick on the joypad to swing your club and assorted buttons to aim, choose clubs and generally prepare your shot. There is a great deal of science and planning behind the button use, so those wanting to grab a joypad and hit hard will inevitably come up short. Finesse is very much the name of the game as you have to draw the left stick back and then push forward fast without deviating from a straight action, any wobble or slew will be magnified tenfold on screen and send your ball into the sand, bush or any other lateral hazard.
Hang on, there's a new Tiger Woods Console game out every year, what makes this version better than the last?
I have a major problem with EA Sports, the software company behind the Tiger Woods franchise. Every year, without fail, they produce a new Madden, FIFA and Tiger Woods game. Now this makes me somewhat sceptical. I am often left wondering if they are truly producing the very best game for the consumer, or are they holding back ideas and innovations to put in the next game in the franchise? Personally I'd like to see them do away with this annual game release and instead deliver a fuller, more polished game every couple of years or so. EA are quick to laud the improvements this game offers, including a new Putting method which frankly makes it twice as hard as far as I can see. There are also more crowds surrounding the holes, which with my wayward shots just mean more people to hit!
Career- By far the mainstay of the game is the career mode, where you take your golfer on the PGA tour to try and win matches, earn money and raise your skill and attribute level. Depending on how well you perform so more tournaments are unlocked, thus delivering to you more prize money and unlocking more goodies in the club shop. All the while you are trying your hardest to improve your game, commentary is provided by Scott Van Pelt from ESPN and Kelly Tillman from the Golf Channel to encourage, or in my case, deride my efforts.
Tournament Challenge - This is a clever little feature recreates famous golf shots from history with you taking the place of the original golfer. Weather, lighting and course conditions are painstakingly recreated to produce an experience as close to the historical shot as possible, now all you have to do is step up to the plate and see if you can deliver on the famous moment in golf.
Mini Games - If you've had enough of the gruelling PGA season you can opt for some fun mini games to sharpen your instincts and let off some steam. Closest to the pin is self explanatory, while target gives you twenty balls with which to strike a giant bull's-eye. My favourite of the mini games is Capture the flag, in which you take turns trying to hit targets to capture them.
$27,000 for a Polo shirt! Is it made from fabricated gold!
As you progress through the game you earn money and unlock items in the club shop. All manner of clothing is available; from trousers, hats, gloves, sunglasses and tops. You also get to upgrade clubs for that added helping hand with your game. The more expensive items actually have the effect of helping different facets of your game, one particularly expensive pair of shoes for example adds a couple of points to your putting game, while a certain golfing glove may aid your long shot. I do feel that the makers have lost any sense of reality with the pricing of the items; one polo shirt that adds two attribute points to your long shot costs a mind-blowing $27,000. That said, even finishing stone cold last in a PGA tournament netted me winnings of $10,000, so I guess the items are priced so that you have to put in that little bit of work in order the afford them all, otherwise you'd soon be able to afford the whole shop even if you were the worst golfer ever to pick up a joypad.
Courses, Courses everywhere
This incarnation of the franchise boasts a massive twenty-seven courses from around the world, nine more than in the last game. Each course is delightfully detailed graphically, with the crisp blue skies and lush greens at Pebble Beach juxtaposing the greyness of St Andrews, complete with heather and brush to lose your ball in. The weather feature also compliments each course well, so you can expect plenty of wind and rain on the United Kingdom courses while the South African and American counterparts get a clear, still climate. My personal favourite has to be the Gary Player Country Club in South Africa - lots of undulating greens and water hazards, and not a drop of rain in sight.
239 People died of lightning strikes on golf courses last year!
So you've invested time in perfecting your game, got that joypad strike done to a tee, then EA go and throw a spanner in the proverbial works by introducing dynamic weather conditions! Deep joy! Now I can get rain and wind battered on the course at St Andrews. Of course all these weather permutations cause your ball to perform in a myriad of odd ways, that putt may be judged to perfection on a dry, sunny course but throw some rain down and it reacts accordingly, more often than not coming up short. Despite my protestations the introduction of weather to the Tiger Woods franchise is long overdue, and is executed rather well.
Any Xbox 360 owner worth their salt will be familiar with the achievement system. In layman's terms these are points gained by unlocking tasks or completing set targets within a game, usually one thousand points are available to unlock and add to your gamescore per game. The purpose is for other game players to interpret your gamescore and decide how good a gamer you are, generally the higher the gamescore a player has the better a player they are, of course it could also be argued that the higher the gamescore the more time the player plays games. Tiger Wood's 10 has the requisite one thousand points to unlock, but unlike previous games in the series they seem quite hard to obtain. Whereas in the 2008 version of the game thirty achievement points were gained for a hole in one, this year no such prize was forthcoming, leaving me feeling more than a little deflated that my perfect shot from tee to hole was not rewarded. This time rewards are modernised with a couple geared more towards excelling in the poor weather, "Shoot under Par through a Gale Force wind in a Traditional or Online game mode 18-hole round" to gain a mere 25 points sounds like a lot of hard work to me!
Can I play it online?
Playing any game online greatly lengthens the replay value, and nowhere is this truer than in the Tiger Wood's games. Daily tournaments are played, where you can decide whether your overall score is good enough to be posted online for posterity. You can also play the pros where scores are posted against real golfers and the actual PGA leader board. Alas my skill level is such that I am in no hurry to share my woeful efforts for others to see.
Is all this clubbing and slicing child friendly?
Even in its darker incarnations it's hard to imagine golf as harmful to kids, save for an errant ball strike or stroppy golfer uttering expletives after one slice shot too many. PEGI, the video game rating people, have this game pegs as suitable for anyone aged three or over. There is no swearing, no violence and definitely no scenes of a sexual nature, indeed the only issue with a three year old playing as I see it is whether they would be able to fully grasp the control system.
The weather is definitely a plus point, despite my protestations at getting wet, in a virtual sense. I also really like the look of the vistas, especially the glint and shimmer of any water featured. Sound wise the game seems to have evolved too; you get to hear cheers from other holes as you play, a sure sign that the opposition are doing better than you. Maybe it was my imagination too that the crowds on the American based courses seemed to whoop and were generally more raucous than their European counterparts, if this "Yankee loudness" is indeed a new feature it's a clever one.
The attributes system can be a little harsh should you have an off day. Power, putting and short game scores are built up painstakingly over the career of your golfer yet one bad round can undo many games and many weeks of hard work. The golfers you play against also seem to be a lot better than they were in the last game, starting a match with a leader fifteen shots better than you really dents the confidence and has you wondering if it's worth even trying. I know its Tiger Wood's game but really, it would be nice to at least be able to get close to him, score wise. My next bugbear centres on the mini games, a great idea to break the monotony of career mode except that they require two real people to participate. Great, if you want to sign into Xbox live and wait for someone to join you, or if you have a mate handy, but not so good when you want a quick game or you don't have anyone to play with. How hard would it have been for the bods at EA to make all mini games one player, with those that need more than one participant able to progress with a computer based comrade? Next, and by far the issue that bugs me the most with this game, is the omission of the Instant Challenges. This feature, in last year's game, set a number of tasks to be performed in order to gain points and unlock more Instant Challenges and golfers. Putting and longest drive contests were a really enjoyable facet of last year's game, as you tried to outdo the challenges, and yet, for reasons unknown, the whole Instant challenge section has been removed completely. Finally, if you create a golfer the changes are only aesthetic, rather than actual. To explain this, if your golfer is given a fuller figure, his or her arms will disappear into his body when a club is swung, because the swinging action is modelled on a thinner torso. I know this is not a major problem, but added to the others it's another reason why the game is not as polished as it should be.
Little doubt that this latest incarnation in the Tiger Woods franchise is a fine game, and as such I award it a generous four stars out of five. But it just doesn't grip me like last year's game, which I thoroughly immersed myself in and felt genuinely saddened when I'd completed it. Those new to the franchise could do worse than buying this game, but for those of us who are familiar with previous versions it is probably not worth parting with close to £40 for what seems to me to be a backwards step. Let's hope next year's game addresses some of the issues, and brings back my beloved Instant Challenges.
Feel the drama of tournament golf with Tiger Woods PGA TOUR 10! Test your stick skills as you play in front of huge galleries and hear the roar of the crowd at every hole. For the first time in franchise history, take on one of the toughest tests in golf the U.S. Open at Bethpage Black. Fight a multitude of tough courses, real-time weather conditions, the challenge of online tournaments, and more Tiger Woods PGA TOUR 10 provides an inside-the-ropes experience like never before.