Tiger Woods PGA TOUR 11 Review (Wii)
Tiger Woods 10 on the Wii introduced one of the great innovations in the history of golf games: Wii MotionPlus (MP). By allowing the controller to pick up on even the slightest of arm and wrist movements during a swing, MP revolutionized the way golf games would forever be played. But even with its exceptional control scheme, Tiger 10 had some glaring issues holding it back, specifically dated player models, antiquated game modes and tired gameplay mechanics (sans MP).
It has been roughly a year since I wrote my review of Tiger 10, and with a new year comes another Tiger Woods golf game for the Wii. Touting all new game modes, golfers, courses and an extremely innovative first-person mechanic known as "TrueView", Tiger 11 promises to deliver the ultimate golf sim available on home consoles.
So with that in mind, can Tiger 11 finally ascend into the upper echelon of sports games, or is the franchise still being held back by nagging issues that have plagued the series for years?
A Completely New Way to Play
The most important addition to TW11 is undoubtedly the True View swing mechanic. Utilizing the MP peripheral and a first-person camera angle, TW11 has transcended the golf-gaming genre and blazed a new trail as a virtual reality golf simulator. Not only does the MP pick up even the subtlest wrist movements, but the True View camera angle seamlessly integrates these movements into an on-screen club adjustment. There is something absolutely awesome about waving your controller back and forth and watching your driver mimic each and every movement on screen.
Even better is that Tiger 11 incorporates two additional difficulty levels, Advanced Plus and Tour Pro. When coupled with True View, these difficulty levels present the most true-to-life swing tracking I have ever witnessed. But beware, unless you are a scratch golfer, you better be prepared to hit the real-life driving range if you play on these enhanced difficulty levels. Both Advanced Plus and Tour Pro will so closely mimic your real-life golf swing that you will swear you are playing a real round of golf. Making matters even more complicated (in a good way) is you can manually control the angle and depth at which you strike the ball at in True View, which means you can create manual divots or swing completely over the ball. Let's just put it this way, if you can do it in real life, you can do it in TW11.
The only real drawback of True View would have to be how it is executed by the individual user. Per the game's tutorial, you should actually place a real golf ball on the floor and use this as a reference point for your Wii remote before taking your shot. There were times during my gameplay sessions where the Wii remote would not correctly pick up this reference point, which led to my on-screen club being slightly misaligned and forced me to reset my reference point. I expect that the success of properly registering a reference point has a lot to do with where an individual is playing the game -- hardwood floors may be friendlier to the system than a shag carpet.
If you are a traditionalist, the standard third-person camera still exists in the game. And for those of you worried that True View will not allow you to see your created characters and all of their cool looking gear, fear not, there are still plenty of camera cuts that will showcase your golfer.
The game modes have remained largely unchanged this year -- technically not much has changed since TW09 in this department. But the two new additions (Mini Golf and Ryder Cup) almost make up for the lack of change in the series.
Mini Golf encompasses 36 holes that include just about any putt-putt cliché you can imagine. What makes this mode so fun, however, is the ability to play it in True View with some friends. Sadly, Mini Golf is not accessible online, but the physics, course design and overall fun factor of this mode make it the perfect party game.
The Ryder Cup mode is available as a standalone game mode, or it can be played within the game's career mode (more on that later). You will be able to use any of the golfers associated with the Ryder Cup, and you can even bring in your created golfer and use him online or against friends. The Ryder Cup is the perfect video game golf mode as it provides a sorely needed "team deathmatch" tournament mode that is best enjoyed with others. I am a big fan of standard golf modes, but there is something very rewarding about you and a team of friends taking down the people at the party you do not really like.
Outside of those two new additions, all of the game modes from TW10 have returned. In other words, Frisbee Golf is back. Fans of the game mode should know that tossing the disc feels exactly the same as last year (a great thing), and five new courses have been added as well. But the best news (by far) is that you can now play disc golf online against four others -- a gameplay experience that makes me feel like I am in college all over again.
The Career mode is also back with only a few minor tweaks, most noticeably, the removal of power-ups from aesthetic clothing items. Now the only way to get additional boosts on your golfer is by upgrading your clubs. EA was clearly going for a more sim approach in this year's Career mode, but as a fan of the series since the PS2 days, I do somewhat miss outfitting myself with that special polo shirt that gives me a plus-two power upgrade.The Ryder Cup also makes its way into Career mode, which means your created golfer can take on the world's best and represent your country. The Ryder Cup is definitely a welcome addition to the otherwise stale career mode, and it will be reason enough for me to invest some time into my career after all these years.
It is disappointing that more could not have been added to this year's Career mode because, for the amount of time that needs to be invested into the game mode to max out your golfer, there is not a whole lot that has changed over the past two years to keep things feeling fresh.
Graphics and Presentation
The graphics and presentation in TW11 are very similar to TW10. You will notice that the game looks a bit rough around the edges on HD displays, even displaying at 420p, and the player models still look like they were taken directly from the PlayStation 2. The courses look good enough, and just like in TW10, the weather effects and course lighting are the highlights of the package. Scott Van Pelt and Kelly Tilghman return to the commentary booth, and both do an admirable job. Overall, if you want a more in-depth review of the graphics and presentation, take a look at my review of TW10 since the games are pretty much identical.
Let's face it, if you are interested in competitive online golf, you are not interested in the Wii. This is definitely unfortunate because TW11 has some of the better online modes of any title on Nintendo's current-gen console. Live Tournaments return, allowing gamers to follow along and see how they stack up to the pros. In addition, the aforementioned Ryder Cup and Disc Golf modes are also available. Tiger 11 online is a lot of fun, and the game performs very well on EA's servers. In fact, during my time online I did not notice much lag or have difficulties getting into games -- both issues that have been reported via the game's official EA Forums.
Tiger 11 is difficult to score. On the one hand, True View and the new Advanced Plus and Tour Pro control styles blew my mind in terms of showing just how good motion-controlled golf could be. On the other hand, I am extremely disappointed by how much the game feels like last year's title in terms of graphics, game modes and presentation -- areas that happened to be Tiger 10's Achilles heel.
That being said, I still feel like Tiger 11 is a great video game that may just be the definitive golf sim of this generation. If you can overlook some of the dated details and appreciate just what EA has accomplished with True View and the tweaks to MotionPlus, you will realize just how important this game is to the history of golf gaming. Never before has a golf game (including pricey simulators) been able to capture an individual's swing with as much precision as Tiger Woods 11.
For that reason alone, the game deserves a game of the year nomination later this year, and your hard earned cash if you are a golf fan. Look at it this way: if you live in a cold-weather state, one payment of $50 will allow you to work on your golf swing all winter long.
Score 8.5 (Excellent)
On the Course: True View is the greatest golf innovation since TW10's Motion Plus support.
Graphics: Dated, dull and drab, with the only saving grace being weather and course lighting effects.
Sound Design: Van Pelt and Tilghman do an admirable job, and the game sounds like an ESPN broadcast.
Learning Curve: The Advanced Plus and Tour Pro difficulty levels will test your patience, but mastering them means mastering your real shot.
Entertainment Value: If you are a golf fan looking for the most realistic simulation out there, pick this game up.
Online: Rock solid as usual, now with Disc Golf!