Pity the lead developers working on the Tiger Woods series. Their responsibility is to improve upon an already admirable franchise that has been carefully refined for over a decade. While gamers typically have an extended laundry list of gripes for the yearly incarnations of hockey, basketball, baseball and football, the catalog of improvements for Tiger and company is amazing brief. Perhaps, that’s why beyond the alternate-universe of Hot Shots Golf, the PGA Tour series lacks serious competition.
It’s also means that Tiger Woods PGA Tour 10 doesn’t offer any radical changes from last year’s game. While there are a handful of small tweaks to the short game and the title’s already splendid visuals, it also seems that that the law of diminishing returns is starting to exert its decree upon the game.
In keeping with the functionality of the last few years of the PGA series, Tiger Woods contains two methods for hitting the ball. The ‘triple click’ simplifies swings by requiring players to tap a button once to initiate a swing, then again to set power, and a last press to measure accuracy. The second method uses the left analog stick to mimic a golf swing- players push down for a windup, and release by quickly pressing forward. Hook and slice are integrated by any variation from the vertical axis. Any lateral movement by the player will be included into the shots trajectory, and show via a handy graphic. Last year’s game seemed to favor the button pushers over the analog swing; the deliberate speed of the sequence allowed for inequitable proficiency. Now, the game has been tweaked to eliminate the advantage.
Tiger’s putting system has almost always had an even split between and proponents and critics. With the title’s ‘precision putting’ system, the title should win over a few more advocates. Forgoing the requirements for multiple putters, the game now gives player a handy power recommendation via a vertical meter. The new system wisely refocuses the reading the green rather than the percentages of putt distance. Within a few games we were constantly draining short-range shots on Tiger’s sixteen courses.
The series has always presented lush fairways, bushy roughs, and finely textured sand traps, but succumbed to the occasional framerate hitch. Now, hole fly-bys are buttery smooth, and border on the photorealistic. As a whole, Tiger Woods 10’s graphic engine seems to have been given a gentle renovation which has facilitated a general sense of fluidity and precision within the title. Character models skillfully display angst after a flubbed putt, or controlled exuberance after a particularly skillful shot. Our visual qualms centered on the simplistic looking divots, and a post-drive camera angle that looked skyward, giving little visual information on its exactitude. Audience members still seem to applaud in robotic unison, a quirk that isn’t unique to the Tiger Woods series.
While it’s clear that Electronic Arts has an interest in making residuals through downloadable content, a course creator would be a wonderful addition to the game. Far Cry 2’s, multiplayer map editor showed how versatile an environmental editor could be- why couldn’t something like this be implemented into Tiger Woods? Little Big Planet shows that users will still pay for professionally developed content, even when a steady supply of self-created material exists.
Short of a course editor, Tiger Woods PGA Tour 10 is about as comprehensive and polished as a golf game can get. While owners of last year’s game may not feel the compulsion to buy this year’s entry, anyone else with the slightest interest toward golf should give the game a try. You’ll likely find that Tiger performs as well on the virtual links as he does in the real ones.
Tiger Woods PGA Tour 10 was reviewed on retail Xbox 360 code.