When the ball is in flight in any Tiger Woods game, I take a minute to admire the scenery. The ball trajectory climbs in altitude, and for a brief minute playing Pebble Beach almost seems attainable. The sounds of the waves crash against the coastline and you can hear the wind as it cuts across the fairways.
This is what it would be like.
Adding in the motion controls and a well-played shot places me further into the dream of playing this alluring course. The hiccups to the Move controls bring me back to reality moments later, but it speaks volumes to be able to capture this sense of immersion into the game's environments.
I attempt to play golf. And so when I turned on Tiger 13 on the Playstation Move, I approached the gameplay as if I were playing a real 18. I placed a golf ball on the floor for my target, cleared space in the room, and started working on my swing.
Tiger on Playstation Move will create some amazing moments rewarding a great swing, but the game ultimately falls short as a true simulator and should be played the way it was created – as a video game.
The Move mechanics are well thought out, but this doesn’t necessarily mean they perform optimally at all times. The game provides shot stance, ball position, club selection and ball-striking targets all for the Move. All these options take quite some time getting used to; some shot types have a wide range of power to them when they really shouldn’t.
Pitch shots and chip shots are hyper sensitive to your downswing, so pace is the most important aspect from backswing to follow through. I found myself hammering chips around the green because of how strong the swings can play out.
The learning curve is about 36 holes to get a strong fundamental grip on the mechanics and how the game plays in relation to your swing tempo and club selection. The different variables, such as your lie, will come into play but I noticed that it hardly effected my shot’s outcome, even on the expert setting. For example, in the sand trap I expected to have to hammer the ball out to get to reach the green from 130 yards out with the PW. So I juiced my swing and the ball flew 150 yards, almost as if I never was in the sand. One contributing fact to this result is that I struck the top of the ball.
Tiger on Move allows you to actually set up a target on the ball to where you want to strike. Now, in this same scenario if I strike just behind the ball with the same exact swing, I catch a lot of sand and the ball travelled a more appropriate distance. It’s a nice touch to the game but very challenging to master both your swing tempo and ball striking combination to pull off the precise shot. There are many variables to measure for each shot.
The aiming marker doesn’t aid you aside from telling you the distance to your target. After that, it’s on you to determine how hard to swing, how much club length is needed, how much loft, and how to play your approach.
This may be the most challenging aspect to the game but it is without question the most rewarding. A smooth approach iron shot with the right loft and club length that sticks to the green is dangerously addicting – real golfers will find that this rewarding experience feels much like a beautiful shot on a real course.
As much as I want this game to play like a real course, even on expert difficulty, I was juicing shots out of deep rough and fairway bunkers like Tiger in his prime, and then some.
The conditions really didn’t affect my swing as much as I would like and this is where the game falls short. The true simulation is dying to come out but it’s caged by the shortcomings of the Move’s limits. I will say that playing through these beautiful courses still creates a tactical approach to each shot. Hills, lies, and setup to the ball will keep you engaged.
The move also will calculate all these variables, but I did not test them like a QA tester to see how consistent they were. For the most part, if you calibrate your motion control and camera properly, the results are very sound.
Putting is the most complex part of the game, and can be admittedly frustrating. Green speed is tough to determine, and as stated earlier, the game doesn’t provide a percentage or tempo guide to tell you how hard to swing. It’s all based on a feel for the game and if you aren’t putting in the time to get intuitive with these controls, then you won’t get the consistent results.
The putting stroke has to be gentle and precise, each degree of backtake and forward stroke can alter the results considerably. Your stroke has to be fundamentally sound as well on the expert settings; a slight mishit will push or pull the putt in the slightest and you will miss your shot.
The game provides realtime feedback on your putting stroke plane, so you know how to correct it. So we have a putting surface that’s hard to determine speed, then you match it with the difficulty in finding pace on your stroke, but when you get it all together in one and you perfectly stroke a putt, there are flashes of greatness to this game.
Tiger’s 1:1 move ratio to animation is really off; it’s not even close. The swing is not pretty when you watch the game capture your swings so don’t watch – it will throw you off.
With that said, it does not detract from the overall fun that the Move and Tiger can create. An amazing approach shot is my personal favorite aspect of the game. Using the right club length, loft, and aim, and then knocking dead a perfect swing keeps me coming back. There were times when the ball was in flight that I felt like I was playing for real – especially when I got the exact result that took a lot of patience to setup.
It was almost to the point where I desperately wished to be playing these exotic courses to be able experience these shots in real life. And as I stated on my blog, that’s why I play these games – to recapture some of the emotion and love for the game that comes with the real-life sport.
At first, the awesome results were few and far between, but the learning curve is steep – we are trying to get the feel of golf clubs that we aren’t even holding.
However, I do like the Move controller because I can just get my golf grip together on there and the weight of the rubber ball balances the controller out. It’s a quality piece of hardware for a motion based golf game.
If you play this game with the mentality of a casual golfer, you will enjoy the experience much more. It’s a greatly rewarding title in that respect.
I think the limitations on the Playstation Eye are holding this back from taking it to true golf simulation level. There are some glitches here and there switching from shot marker to address, but overall the game is well done and I recommend it.
So put Tiger Woods PGA Tour 13 on your surround sound, big screen HDTV, with your Move controller and some imagination mixed in for some truly amazing gaming moments.