Wii Game Review: Tiger Woods PGA Tour 10

I’ve never been a big fan of golf games on consoles.  The button pushing just left a great deal of somethings to be desired.  But I saw potential in the Nintendo Wii and the Wii-mote system for sports games.  The basic Wii Sports package had a short golf game in it, a mere 9 holes, and only 1 course, but it showed me the potential for game play in such games.  I ws intrigued enough to begin considering the Tiger Woods golf game.  When I began looking at the game, I noticed it was only a few more weeks before Tiger Woods PGA Tour 10 would be released, and with the new Wii-Motion sensor attachment.  So I held off buying the game, and it was worth the wait.

The biggest addition to the franchise, and the Wii in general is the new Wii-Motion sensor attachment for the Wii-Motes.  This new sensor addition allows the system to pick up on rotation of the Wii-Mote in addition to the usual motion sensor aspects.  With the sensor attached, the system will pick up on left-right rotation, beyond the usual up-down, left-right cardinal movements.  For a game like Tiger Woods, and I can imagine for games like tennis, this adds a wonderful new layer of “realism” and game play.

The game itself is pretty straight forward.  It plays almost exactly like real life golf.  Anyone who has ever picked up a club will have no problem settling into this game out of the box.  More so on the Wii, as if you use the Wii-mote as a golf club, as you will get a real feel of playing.  This is unlike either the PS3 or X-Box systems, where you would still be using a traditional controller set up.  In other words, on the Wii this is an active participation game, where on any of the other consoles, you;d still be sitting on the couch.

The games has several game modes, from casual play (pick a course and go), a career mode (where it’s really at), a “party” mode (multiple players in a casual setting), and several on line features.  The real meat and potatoes of the game lay in the career mode, which is standard for most sports games.  Just like many other sports games, be it MLB, or Madden, or what have you, you create your golfer from the ground up.  The customization is fairly extensive, and perhaps over done given the level of details you can adjust.  I’m not one to bother adjusting my eye widths or tinkering with chin shapes, but there are those that do, and it’s here for them.

As with other similar games, you can set your player’s statistics.  As you progress through the game, you will gain experience points, by making good shots, meeting challenges, and winning tournements, which you can then spend to improve your player.  Unlike other game however, the experience points are specific to the skills, with a general category which can be used for any skill.  So just because you have great drives off the tee, doesn’t mean your putting will improve.

Once you have your player, you can begin in one of three categories: PGA Tour; FedEx Cup; Tournament Challenge.  So far, I have only played the PGA Tour.  In this mode, you start as a rookie amateur golfer.  You have a certain set of objectives to meet to gain your Tour card, after which you can compete with the Pros.  The game will provide you with hints and tips as you play, and if things seem to be going badly, will even offer to ease the difficulty for you.  I have yet to earn my Tour Card, but I’ve still managed to achieve several trophies and win several challenges.

The other career modes, FedEx Cup and Tournament mode, are also accessed from the “My Career” screen.  The FedEx Cup is just as it is in real life.  Individual tournaments and a combined scoring in the chase for the Cup.  The Tournament mode allows you to compete in historical tournaments, against the actual players in those tournaments.  I haven’t tried this one yet, as I’d like to improve my game a great deal before going up against the likes of Nicklaus, Palmer, and Woods.

As you progress, you will get opportunities for things like sponsors, who give you bonus cash for using their gear in tournaments, endorsements, and the like.  This will unlock more items in the club house, such as clubs, clothing, balls, and other gear.  You can adjust what you bring to the course at your leisure, making changes in nearly every aspect.  Club selection prior to a tournament may be important, so be sure to check what you have before each round.

All types of golf tournaments are present in game.  There are match play events, standard tournaments, skins games, and scrambles.  Some are four day tournaments, some less.  The various PGA tournaments, amateur and professional are here to be played, and on the associated courses.

The course selection here is impressive.  All the majors are covered, as are several of the smaller courses.  Every course from Bethpage to St.Andrew’s in accounted for, and are accurately rendered in game.  On of the neater on line features of the game is that you can have the game connect to the Wii Weather Channel and play in the actual weather conditions for that course.  Just as in real life, weather can be a significant factor in how a course plays.

Once you’ve created a profile and a golfer, you can use that golfer in any mode, on or off line.  You can earn some experience points (but not cash) from casual play or in party mode, so it’s worth your while to do so.  The only mode where you don’t (or at least not thaty I’ve noticed), is in Frisbee Golf.  Yes, Frisbee Golf.  Anyone who had a gym class in the 80’s, or spent time on a college campus in that era, will remember this.  It’s silly, it’s fun, and it’s a good easy family type game.

The online aspects, other than the afore mentioned weather connect, are interesting, though I have yet to try most of them out.  One mode allows you to “play along” with the real pros.  So, when say the Masters comes up, you can play along with the real Pros, and compare your game score to their real life scores on the same course on the same day.  There are also online tournaments where you compete against other players, and happen on a regular (weekly I believe) basis.

No matter what mode you choose to play, or at what difficulty, I highly recommend going through the tutorials.  Especially if using the Wii-motion sensor.  In a departure from the usual, these tutorials are actually worth while.  Even if you are an experience golfer, going through the tutorials will give you the feel for the game play, and how to make use of the various features and sensor capabilities.  It will also show you the various differences in some options, such as between classic and precision putting, and how to intentionally do a draw or fade (aka hook or slice).

While I am certain that graphically the PS3 and Xbox versions blow the Wii version out of the water, the game play on the Wii more than makes up for it.  As I said, it’s a more “natural” game play with the Wii-mote compared to the traditional controllers.  You take your stance, then back swing and swing through.  The Wii-mote system is sensitive enough to pick up on the actual force of your swing, so you can control how much force you use in a natural way.  Just like using a real golf club.  It is all very intuitive and wonderfully easy to pick up.

Putting is the same way, no matter which mode you choose to use.  The classic mode is what has gone before.  Anyone who has played a Tiger Woods game prior to this will be familiar with this mode.  It’s an easier (supposedly!) method of putting, geared now more towards the casual and new player.  The precision mode allows for greater individual control, from putter choice, to angles, spin, and strength of putt.  Personally, I much prefer the precision putting to the classic mode.  I just found it easier to assimilate into my game play, and found it a more “natural” choice.  YMMV as usual.

So far, I have progressed about 6% in my career.  I’ve only won 2 tournaments, The Highlands Challenge at Turnberry, and the European Shootout at St.Andrews.  The Highlands Challenge was a 16 player natch play tournament.  After winning round 1 on a play off hole, I quickly dispatched my remaining opponents by the 15 hole in each successive round.  This win earned me a “Player of the Month” trophy ball (there is one for each month).  I then struggled through three more tournaments before the European Shootout.

I only wish I could play like I did at the European Shootout.  After a +1 first round, I shot a -9, -11, and -11 to finish the tournament at a whopping -30!  This was by and far the most impressive game of my life.  I eagled (2 under par) 7 holes, including a par 5.  I was consistently sinking 40+ foot putts, and in successive rounds hit all fairways, then all Greens in Regulation (GIR).  I set course records for lowest score in a round (tied the record actually), fewest putts, most fairways hit, and most GIR.

I can’t quite give this a perfect score.  I’d like to, but Tiger Woods PGA Tour 10 suffers from the same issue as every other sports game out there.  That problem is the commentary.  It doesn’t matter what game it is, be it Tiger Woods, MLB09, Madden, NCAA sport game of choice, or what not, the commentary tracks universally suck.  The canned comments get real old real fast.  You play through once with it on, and that is more than enough.  No matter the game, the canned dialogue is generic at best, and inappropriate at worst.  It fast becomes an annoying distraction, and really doesn’t add anything to the game play.  Play with it on once, then turn it off.

Even so, I think that this is by far the best sports game out there, especially on the Wii.  The game play aspects alone makes this more than a worth while pick up.  If you have any interest in golf, this is a game for you.  One of the selling aspects of the game is how professionals say “it will help improve your game,” so it will also appeal to regular golfers as well.  I will say this, it can help your real life game, especially if you have a hook or slice in your swing.  I myself have “corrected” my usual slice (to a degree at least), and improved my putting approach.  And where else can you get 72 holes of golf in 2 hours, and feel like you’ve actually played 72 holes?

9/10