When translating the sport of golf into a videogame, there are two distinct schools of thought. The first uses the basic rule set of the pastime to create an accessible experience which forgoes many of the nuances of the sport. Titles such as Golden Tee Golf or the Hot Shots Golf series exemplify this approach, paring the game down to its raw essentials- allowing a match to be completed in minutes. The second technique aims to wholly recreate the sport. It’s success in measured by how closely the simulation comes to matching reality.
Over the years, the Tiger Woods PGA series has consistently promoted itself as a golfing sim, with its roster of professional golfers, recreation of actual tournaments, and meticulously modeled real-world courses. Yet, with all these convincing components, the franchise has offering a number of video-game concessions – from altering the spin of mid-flight ball to permitting players to foretell their putting trajectory. The recently released Tiger Woods PGA Tour 11 attempts to straddle that division, tweaking its fantastical feature set to appeal to both light-hearted duffers as well as players yearning for resolute realism.
Tiger Wood 11‘s most significant push toward authenticity comes from the incorporation of the True-Aim component. The optional play style forgoes the omnipotent ball-flight camera and targeting circle for a much more realistic view of the action. While players can still use aerial shot aiming (justified by a each golfer carrying a GPS tool), they are required to use small markers to gauge their distance to the cup. With the option turned on, participants much be more diligent of their club choice and study of each hole- it’s much more easy to hit a wayward shot with the option. Personally, I wasn’t charmed by True-Aim’s increased complexity, but adamant simulation nuts might enjoy the mode’s truthful recreation of perspective.
Players who persist with the traditional aiming method will notice a few wrinkles which will demand their attention. Variable winds fluctuate in both speed and direction, and gusts can affect the trajectory on long drives. Whereas in previous Tiger Woods iterations, a faultless shot would consistently send the ball toward the center of your aiming reticule. Now the game doesn’t display this unrealistic mechanical precision. Players who grew accustomed to pausing at the apex of their swing (in order to achieve a more accurate drive) will notice this tactic has been eliminated from game; now the title requires one continuous movement for maximum power.
Arguably, the greatest modification to Tiger Wood‘s game engine is the incorporation of a focus meter, which limits the number of incredulous tasks a golfer can perform. Perks such as narrowing the size of your target reticule, extending your drives, adding spin and scrutinizing a putt preview are no longer limitless, forcing players to strategically use each advantage. While your focus meter can be depleted swiftly (especially on the pro difficulty setting), it is gradually replenished over time. Still, unmindful players may find themselves in precarious situations where they are forced to depend on their rudimentary skills just to make par.
Tiger Wood 11‘s multiplayer components sees one significant addition- the inclusion of the biennial Ryder Cup. The illustrious competition is played between two teams, America and Europe, as each vies for victories across a contest which spans twenty-eight matches. Although players may jump right into the contest from Tiger Wood 11‘s main menu or during the career mode, waiting for a throng of virtual duffers to tee off can make the race for the cup move at a languid pace. The title’s new Online Team Play mode moves much more briskly, as the color-coded arc of each teammates balls traverses the screen. While Gamernet returns to offer players supplemental challenges, I longed for Tiger Wood‘s multiplayer element to offer a endless procession of unlockables for players to procure. Clearly, presenting clothing and equipment options wouldn’t have tarnished the title’s advancement toward authenticity.
Visually, this year’s game offers an supplementary layer of polish than extends across the courses and the players. Each of the title’s five new courses (Celtic Manor, Greenbrier, Liberty National, TPC Scottsdale and Whistling Straights complement the growing roster of venues. Tiger‘s already impressive textures seemed to have received a slight renovation, as each blades of grass and tree leaves are articulated in high-def sumptuousness. Less impressive is the game’s commentary, which while well-delivered, has the tendency to repeat itself.
Nearly all the changes made to Tiger Woods PGA Tour 11 push the title toward the realm of meticulous simulation. While golfing aficionados will probably appreciate the transformation, more casual audiences may be content with keeping their existing versions of the game. Hopefully, EA can strike the balance of pleasing series enthusiasts and casual audiences alike in the coming year.