Tiger Woods’ games, like the man’s affairs, come with a certain regularity. Once a year you can expect an updated game of golf to come rolling out of publishing giant EA’s headquarters. This is no bad thing mind, as in the case of Tiger Woods PGA Tour 11 the recent introduction of Wii MotionPlus has revamped the once fading franchise, adding a level of skill and depth to proceedings that will make golf fanatics wet their chequered pants. Now one year down the line, the extra precision in control afforded by Wii MotionPlus has allowed EA to craft its most responsive and realistic golfing experience to date.
The main addition in terms of modes this time out is the introduction of the Ryder Cup Challenge. This mode allows you to see what it’s like to take part in the massive Europe vs. USA tournament at Celtic Manor. EA has rammed it full of options, allowing you to tweak everything from the length of the tournament, down to the type of match ups played over the course of the three-day event. Picking each individual member of both teams could take you a while as Tiger Woods has a huge roster; with a host of professionals and your own custom characters in the mix, sorting a squad will probably have you reaching for the randomise button on more than one occasion. Taking part in your own personalised Ryder Cup really draws you in to the noble game, as you’ll feel the tension rise before every putt and a wave of relief flood over you as you make par; Tiger Woods golf is far from the relaxing Sunday afternoon activity.
The boffins at EA have come up with a glut of game modes to keep you on the green for hours on end. Aside from the standard Tutorial and Career modes, there is a "Play Now" option to take you to the tee faster than a speeding golf cart, a comprehensive online suite where you can take it to the hole against gamers the world over and a Party mode for those who like their golfing a little less serious.
The whopping Career mode is where most golfers will want to spend their time. Upon selecting this option you’re presented with a well-stocked create-a-golfer toolkit. There are all the options, colour palettes and sliding scales you would expect from a creation kit, allowing you to tweak every aspect of your custom golfer right down to the shape of an eyebrow. Although considering that you’ll spend the majority of your time staring at the back of your golfer’s head, editing the finer details seems slightly wasteful – but it is nice to have the option. More important to the overall look of your avatar is the clothing they take to the green in. Buying new gear from the licensed brands on offer lets you kit your character out in some frankly outrageous combinations of cheques, pleats and woollen numbers that’ll have the fashion police battering your door down for certain.
Once you’ve completed the look you can play match ups and earn money to buy new gear, or try your hand at some of the skill challenges laid on by the professional golfers. These tests take in everything from long distance driving to sinking putts – completing challenges allows you to upgrade your stats and create a well-rounded golfer to show off online or have represent their country in the Ryder Cup Challenge.
The tweaks that EA has made to the MotionPlus controls since PGA Tour ’10 have really elevated this game in terms of realism. Although the game can be played without the peripheral its implementation is far too good for you to pass on it. Playing a round of Tiger Wood’s with the increased fidelity takes a lot of concentration, a feather touch and nerves of steel – armchair golfers need not apply as Tiger Woods requires you to stand up and pay attention. While this may put many off initially, once you’re on your feet you’ll be totally immersed. There are multiple control sensitivity options ranging from beginner all the way up to Tour Pro, where MotionPlus will track every movement you make and missing the ball is a very real possibility. Swinging the Remote to replicate driving with a club feels very natural and with MotionPlus tracking every twist of your arm it’s easy to add draw and fade and pull off punch shots and chips.
EA has bolstered the realism by adding in a True View option, which switches the traditional third person perspective to a first person one. This view eschews the ball-in-flight view that follows a successful drive keeping you firmly rooted in the woollen socks of your golfer instead – while more realistic, not seeing near misses from closer in certainly makes the game somewhat less dramatic as a consequence.
Should you find the tension getting the better of you then Tiger Wood’s Party mode is the place to go to blow off some steam. There’s a shooting gallery, connect 4 and a variation of horse called "Tiger" on offer, but you’ll have the most fun with the return of disc golf. This little stroke of genius is essentially an elaborate game of Frisbee in which the aim is to get your flying disc into a basket in the least throws. This mode is a true showcase for MotionPlus, tracking the movement of your wrist to adjust the pitching and speed of the disc upon release. It’s one of those endlessly playable multiplayer games that could outshine the main golfing experience. The other big draw in Party mode is mini-golf. EA have rustled up four suitably wacky courses, the themes range from racetrack to snow capped mountain and bring along the assorted paraphernalia to act as obstacles. It’s a great little distraction that let’s you spend some time working on your softer strokes before tackling the tougher skill challenge in Career mode.
Tiger Woods tows the line graphically: it’s by no means ugly, but it’s not drop-dead gorgeous either. The in-game visuals are simple, with variations of grass types and trees differentiating between courses. Sound-wise the game has some good atmospheric background noise for the competition segments, but voiceover work for the tutorials is downright laughable.
If you’re the kind of person who likes to wear corduroy then Tiger Wood’s PGA Tour 11 may just be the game for you. Golfing enthusiasts will get a kick out of its attention to detail and the feeling of its golf game is second to none. Those with Wii MotionPlus are especially in for a treat as Tiger Wood’s implements it exceptionally well, making it a true showcase for the fidelity boost. Tiger Wood’s PGA Tour 11 proves once and for all that Tiger is the king of swing.