Review | Tiger Woods PGA Tour 10
Format: Xbox360/PS3/Wii/PSP/PS2 | Genre: Sports | Publisher: EA | Developer: EA | Release date: 03/07/09 | RRP: £24.99-£39.99
By Greg Giddens
Another year, another golf title from EA, a yearly ritual played out by all titles from the EA Sports catalogue. Seldom does one of these titles redefine the way we play the real sport’s videogame alternative, and Tiger Woods 10 is no exception. The improvements are, on the surface, rather standard, but below the superficiality you’ll find that these minor improvement do in fact shape a slightly new experience.
Almost everything in Tiger Woods 10 has been tweaked, from the menus and ambient music, to the more substantial sound effects, graphics and game mechanics. From the menu screen, players from the previous version will feel right at home – but this year, EA have acquired the licence to the US Open, so your journey through the PGA Tour is already more eventful and interesting. Linked to that is the inclusion of the USGA rules and etiquette for the tournament – a minor addition in theory, but one that does add to the realism.
Still on the menu screen, the new Live Tournaments should catch your eye. These allow you to play either a single round of golf or several, where your score is then submitted to an online leaderboard for the tournament in question. Your tournament choices span ‘daily’, ‘weekly’, ‘play the pros’, and other unique tournaments which are constantly updated. Their dynamic nature adds a much-needed competitive nature to the game that simple online rounds couldn’t provide.
The online rounds are still present, though, allowing friendlier online play to take place. This aspect hasn’t changed since last year’s release – in fact, the entire game initially feels very much like the previous version. It’s not until you begin to really delve into Tiger Woods 10 that the new additions begin to shine.
Perhaps “shine” isn’t the word. The most notable new addition is that of rain. A wet course changes everything, from the bounce of the ball on the fairway and the roll of the ball on the green; and a putt you found simple before suddenly becomes challenging. The physics imitate reality perfectly, providing you with the feel of playing out in the rain. The addition of dynamic live weather really adds to the realism too, and is epically critical to the Live Tournaments. You have 24 hours to submit a score in a daily tournament before the next one begins. So you go to start a round and the live weather reports that currently, in Scotland at St Andrews Links, it’s raining. Do you play a round anyway, knowing that the rain will have an affect on your game, or do you wait a few hours to see if the rain will pass?
//If it aint broke…
Another improvement that helps with realism is the new putting mechanic. Similar to the driving controls, you pull the left analogue stick back to determine the strength of your putt. This new mechanic is certainly superior to the previous one, and takes very little time to get to grips with. And if you’re opposed to change, you do have the option of reverting to the old version, so accessibility is never compromised.
Although the tweaked controls and real-time weather provide a realistic experience, the visual presentation remains less convincing, though not necessarily in a bad way. Tiger Woods 10 looks almost identical to Tiger Woods 09, albeit with slightly deeper colours. It’s the same engine as before but, like the majority of the game, it’s been improved slightly. But the lack of a photorealistic ambiance means the game manages to maintain a unique visual style throughout.
Everything else remains the same – a few new courses and bigger crowds, but that’s about it. But it’s the seemingly minor improvements, particularly the real-time live weather, that add most to the game. You can’t reinvent the wheel, it is what it is, and every year we’ll continue to see a new Tiger Woods games with slight improvements.
Despite them, Tiger Woods 10 feels a bit like a full price expansion pack, and with the ludicrously expensive DLC it’s an expensive upgrade to have. A strong golf game, but an update that’s only really essential for the enthusiast.