Tiger Woods PGA TOUR 10 Review (Xbox 360)
When Tiger Woods plays in a major, you can assume that you will witness greatness. And Tiger’s fierce competitive nature is what makes him the most compelling athlete to watch during those championship Sundays. For those of you who want know what it's like to be in Tiger's shoes on the 18th green at Bethpage Black, well, look no further than Tiger Woods PGA Tour 10 on the Xbox 360.
Tiger Woods PGA Tour 10 from EA Sports has returned, just in time for Tiger’s run at another U.S. Open at Bethpage Black. The game now includes the prestigious Bethpage Black course, along with five other additional courses that that were not present in Tiger Woods PGA Tour 09. The new courses are Hazeltine National Country Club, Oakmont Country Club, Pinehurst No. 2, Torrey Pines (South Course) and Turnberry (Alisa Course).
In total, there are 16 courses. The rest of the courses include: TPC Sawgrass, St. Andrews, Bay Hill, Firestone Country Club, Doral, Wentworth, Harbour Town, Pebble Beach, TPC Boston and East Lake Golf Course.
Unfortunately, when compared to the Wii version of the game -- which has 27 courses -- the course offerings seem a little light. It’s tough to see EA Sports eliminate courses we enjoy just to make room for new ones. Spyglass Hill is available for download on Xbox Live for 600 Microsoft points.
The course offerings are a little light in Tiger 10.
Traditional Game Modes and Mini-Games
Aside from the career mode and Xbox Live online play, Tiger Woods PGA Tour 10 offers so many gameplay modes that you might not even play all of them. The traditional game modes include: stroke play, match play, skins, bingo bango bongo, Stableford, alternate shot, best ball, four ball, greensome, bloodsome, battle golf and one ball.
The mini-games include: target, target to target, T.I.G.E.R., capture the flag, putting contest, approach contest, closest to the pin and long drive contest.
If you are looking for a true golf simulation, the Tiger Woods PGA Tour 10 team delivers it to you on the greens. Precision putting is quite impressive and may be the most welcome and distinguishable new feature in this year’s game. There is a true sense of realism while analyzing the greens, so the burden is on you to make the correct reads.
The ball comes off the putter realistically and has an overall great feel. The new putting system also places emphasis on the smoothness and the straightness of your takeaway and follow through. In addition, the precision putting meter was designed with a small sense of trail or lag, so it will take some getting used to. Also, be forewarned, it is very sensitive on short putts.
The green speeds play a big part in the putting game. I found that some of the greens were so quick that -- even on "level" putts -- I would aim my cursor arrow short of the hole on occasion. I implemented the same inverse strategy when it came to the slow greens, or saturated greens during a rain shower.
Taking it one step further, on Tour Pro difficulty, which is the hardest difficulty in the game, there is no putt preview feature available. For even more of a challenge, you can turn off the putting meter and green grids in the main menu. It takes a lot of practice and a serious feel for the putter to play with all these assists off, but the reward is awesome. You will feel like you are actually putting. The bottom line is that I expect the golf simulation fans to enjoy this challenging new putting engine.
The putting can also be changed back to classic in the options menu for those of you who prefer the traditional system.
While the putting system is incredibly rewarding, the Tiger Woods PGA Tour 10 team failed to make any substantial adjustments to the current swing mechanism in place for off-the-tee situations. While the current system is still playable and enjoyable enough, it would be nice to see the Tiburon team implement more of a one-to-one ratio for your swing, much like the Wii version of Tiger 10.
The fluidity of the swing should have more of an impact than it does. Although the game does reward you for good tempo on a full swing, it’s still difficult to master a smooth takeaway and follow through for your in-between shots.
One way to correct this issue is via the new practice swing. Before attempting a shot, you can now click the left stick in and take full swings with swing feedback and all. When you are done practicing your swing power, straightness and tempo, click the stick again and you can now address the ball.
Tiger 10's gameplay is a mixed bag, but mostly good.
The performance tuner is also back. You can adjust your clubs for some big power or a nice big sweet-spot on the club face. You can also adjust the workability for the dog-legged fairways.
The tuning is done by moving a number of sliders that affect different club properties. As you adjust them and test the settings out, Coach Hank Haney will track your performance, give you a feedback grade and also recommend the ideal setting.
I noticed that when I adjusted my Mizuno MP-600 driver for some power, I began missing fairways much more often. This is because to reach your driver’s highest potential distance, the sweet-spot on the club-face must be decreased, thus making it harder to hit the perfect shot for the ultimate distance. The risk-reward element with the club performance tuner is accurate and well-done.
The "workability" tuning element controls how much of a draw or fade you can hit with your club. The higher your workability, the more bend and tricks you can pull of with your shots. This also will reduce your club’s sweet-spot.
Other sliders within the performance tuner include club loft, spin control and bias tuning -- corrects your natural swing if you have a tendency to hook or slice.
The shot stick has been adjusted to be slightly more sensitive to the accuracy of your swing. In Tiger 09, many players felt that it was too easy to hit the fairways. In Tiger 08, many users thought it was too hard to hit the fairways. This year’s game has found the middle ground.
A final note: Overall club distances have been tuned back approximately 20-25 yards this year, which is a nice touch.
The career mode is a product of the courses, the gameplay adjustments, the performance tuning and your overall skills. As you play through your career in Tiger Woods PGA Tour 10, every shot will matter. Each shot is measured and calculated by your coach Hank Haney. Hank will reward you at the end of a round or penalize you for bad play.
The FedEx Cup is present in the career mode. Each tournament provides you with a number of points that can be earned, and the FedEx Cup keeps track of the points leaders.
New to career mode is the practice round. This feature lets you browse through any unlocked course in the game. In this mode, you will start at the first tee box, and from there you can move your ball to another spot and shoot from there. No scores or statistics are tracked during this round, so you can practice certain difficult holes over and over again.
The practice round is typically on a Wednesday, or a day before your first tournament round. While in practice mode, you can also bring up the club tuning menus and adjust your clubs right on the course. This feature is beneficial because it allows you to gauge your power on drives, judge your angles on various approaches to the pins, and get a feel for the fairway and green speeds.
The last addition is Tournament Challenge. These are challenges that allow you to relive some great moments in Tiger’s career. You can only use your career character in this mode. Here, you will also play in a variety of different challenges against other PGA players during big moments in their own careers.
Tournament Challenge also helps you build up your created character’s attributes. When compared to the Tiger Challenge in previous titles, this mode is a small yet welcome change
During PGA Tour play, the realistic start times help you keep track of the leaderboard as you play the course. During a shot, you may hear the crowd explode into a roar. Once this occurs, a notification will pop up describing the player who made the shot and his score. Scott Van Pelt and Kelly Tilghman also comment on action around the course.
When you start a round, the game does not announce who you are paired with. You can only tell who you are paired with by viewing the leaderboard. I thought this was a bit lacking. The Tiger development team could have easily implemented the option of incorporating the simultaneous shot tracker into your career mode.
Once you finish your rounds for the day, others may still be playing. A leaderboard displaying all the active shots will come up and let you track the rest of the field.
The presentation and graphics are both well done.
Presentation, Sound and Options
The presentation in Tiger Woods PGA Tour 10 is well done. The main menu interface is fast, and there are video tutorials to help you figure out all the features in the game. Tiger Woods also provides some nice video commentary for his Tournament Challenge highlights.
You will notice bigger galleries and louder applause, which add to the PGA Tour experience. Upon entering a tournament, the introduction consists of a smooth broadcast-style transitioning to the first tee.
Kelly Tilghman and Scott Van Pelt do an excellent job of bringing house-hold voices to the game. These two sound in the booth, and they compliment each other well.
As far as options are concerned, the My Tiger options include some notable things: power boost and spin control can be turned off; ball trail can be turned off, camera angles can be set to presentation or follow, and player animations can be turned off. You can also skip the CPU shots during match play.
The developers of Tiger 10 have not addressed the issue of playing competitively with two Photo Game Face profiles at the same time. Also, the Photo Game Face profiles will not carry over from the 2008 or 2009 versions of the game.
The graphics in this year’s game are not much improved. The courses do look beautiful, but no major improvements have been made here. Still, the game already looked nice as it was. The greens and sand bunkers have smoother textures to them, and the player models look almost identical.
The club heads are the most notable difference. They are much larger this year, but they do not in any way change the gameplay. Perhaps EA Sports was trying to display their sponsor client list better.
You can tell what make of club you are swinging. The clubs are very distinguishable and beautifully designed, so I do not mind the exaggeration in size. I enjoy being able to read the PING label on my putter because it is almost identical to the putter I use in real life.
Online Tournaments and Weather
Live online tournaments are nice. The online component of the Tiger Woods series has taken a big step forward with the implementation of real PGA Tour scores streamed right to your consoles. In the new Play the Pros feature, you now have a chance to take on the scores put up by the pros in a non-conventional manner -- also known as your couch.
The Play the Pros mode will have you battling against live scores in real-life PGA Tour tournaments. Here, you can earn attributes and purse money, which will benefit your created golfer. You can also send feedback straight from the game to the developers through an online chat hub in the game. This type of feedback can be used to build the tournaments that we demand.
In other modes, such as daily tournaments and weekly tournaments, live weather is streamed to the game from the Weather Channel. These weather conditions will be extremely influential, resulting in dynamic play surfaces and courses. Green and fairway speeds will depend on the rain and wind. All the settings in the tournaments will be extremely customizable.
For some of the Tour Pro tournaments and Play the Pros tournaments, your golfer’s attributes may be capped off at the discretion of the development team. Right now, you can also pay 10 percent of a total purse to add one of your additional scores. Tournament leaders finished at +2 at Pinehurst and -7 at Torry Pines on Tour Pro (Monday June 10).
With all the customization available, the online portion of the game has taken a big step forward. The competition online against live PGA Tour scores adds a good amount of depth to this title.
For those of you who have played Tiger Woods games in the past, you will find that the core of the game remains intact. It has a lot of the same elements and feel that the series has established over the years.
The added online modes and the new putting system should warrant a look from casual golf fans, but if you have Tiger 09, I would not jump at this title. If you have any version before 09, this title should deliver enough updates to keep you happy.
For those of you specifically looking for more realistic scores and a more challenging brand of golf, Tiger Woods PGA Tour 10 has the customization options that should meet your simulation needs.
On the Course: This Tiger game has the same old swing but with a new putter in the bag. The swing accuracy has been adjusted, and power has been tuned back. The ball physics go well with the new dynamic weather elements. This is a fun round of golf. The added practice swing will help you smooth out your swing, which should help you find that ideal tempo.
Graphics: This year’s graphics are not noticeably different. You will find some greens, fairways and bunkers that look a little smoother, but the Tiger Woods series had beautiful courses to begin with. Player models are almost unchanged.
Sound: Kelly Tilghman sounds awesome and Scott Van Pelt compliments her well. It feels and sounds like a live television broadcast. The roaring galleries help to polish off the PGA Tour feel.
Entertainment Value: Tiger Woods PGA Tour 10 provides gamers with a variety of gameplay modes, customizable clubs and sliders, Photo Game Face and EA Sports GamerNet. Simply put, this game is fun. For the simulation golf fan, Tour Pro mode with the precision putter meter turned off may provide you with the realistic golf scores you are looking for. With tuned back club distances off the tee, a variety of factors calculated into the putting equation and live weather, you are going to find yourself thinking about every shot.
Learning Curve: The putting system is easy to pick up. Just follow the recommendations made above and you will find success. The learning curve on the Tour Pro mode with precision the putting meter turned off will be extremely challenging. Besides the putting, everything else that is here is the same.
Online: It remains to be seen if EA Sports will utilize the gamer feedback to customize the tournaments in the months that follow this release. Right now, the lowest score shot online in a Tour Pro daily tournament is a -7 (as of Monday June 10).
Score: 8.0 (Very Good)