Hitting a little ball with a stick, again.
Tiger Woods PGA Tour 11 is something that I personally have been looking forward to since, well, Tiger Woods 10. It is not that I am a Golfing fanatic or anything. Before Tiger Woods 10 I was going through a bit of a Golf video game break. Then Tiger 10 reignited my love for a virtual round of Golf. So I was really excited to see what the game had to offer.
But then I made the mistake of trying the Wii version of Tiger Woods 11. The level of immersion in that version certainly left the Xbox version feeling a little silly. Don’t get me wrong, in many ways the latest version far out performs the previous Xbox version. But for lovers of Golf, the Wii version really is the only way to go.
I have already gushed over the Wii version, so let’s concentrate on the Xbox360 entry. After so many versions of the game, I would imagine that most of you out there will know what to expect from this latest installment. But, as with the majority of sequels, new features are added, some successful, some not.
First up, I want to talk about the True Aim system. This is basically a new way of playing the game. Don’t panic, you will not have to make a transition to a new control method, like the change from the three tap to waggling the stick method of hitting the ball. This mode is more about adding yet more realism to the game. It also shows why it takes so long to become a good golfer.
True Aim takes the player into a first person perspective. Gone are all of the aids that help the player to line up their perfect shot. Like the real game, players are left to their own judgement and more than just a sprinkling of luck. Whilst I can see the appeal of this mode, it makes the game much more authentic, it really ramps up the difficulty and without actually being there on the golf course and feeling the wind on your face, the kind of judgement calls required to succeed with this mode are hard to pull off.
Yet again, the inclusion of this new mode will require hours and hours of practice to achieve the level of golfing that the player has without this mode turned on. Decent real life golfers will find this mode easier to deal with than those who have never picked up a golf club. But the mode can be turned on or off at will, so it is not essential.
Another new inclusion that is designed to make the player work that little bit harder is the Focus meter. There are a variety of little tweaks that can be employed in order to simply improve your game, such as adding boost to your drive or the most important putt preview that allows the player to gauge the success of a putt before performing the shot. Whilst not especially realistic, these are an important part of the game for most players. But now the use of these tweaks are limited. There is a focus meter that will diminish as the player uses focus based abilities. The only way to fill the meter is to not use focus abilities during a shot. This method makes the player a lot more careful about how often these abilities are used, ensuring that there is enough focus for when it is really needed.
Players are able to create their own character, as always, and build up that characters golfing abilities by earning experience and upgrading various attributes. Whilst this can make for a very frustrating first few tournaments in the career, due to the relative rubbishness of your character, the tutorial on offer can help to take the edge off. By simply working through a rather good tutorial, the player will earn some experience to get them started, whilst also learning the basics of the game. Everyone’s a winner.
The inclusion of The Ryder Cup in Tiger Woods 11 is also likely to be a big selling point. The tournament pits a team of 12 Europeans against 12 Americans in an attempt to win the much coveted cup. It is not like there was a shortage of different modes to begin with, but this is a nice inclusion to the game and offers something a little bit different.
All of this is good stuff. The game looks great, as you would expect, and offers a full featured golfing experience. There are plenty of modes, options and even a new way to play. What could go wrong with that?
How about a code for online play? As part of what seems to be a growing trend, the game comes packaged with a code that must be used to enjoy all of the online goodness that Tiger Woods 11 has to offer. Without that code, the player will have to pay a fee and buy another code, or just stay offline. No big deal, you may think. People can just buy the game new and get a code. But what about the gamers out there who cannot afford a brand new game and buy their games used, or the players who rent these games out from their local video game rental store?
Tiger Woods 11 is a great game. There are some really interesting new features and the game is packed with golfing goodness. Is it an essential purchase? I am not sure. Obviously the Tiger fanboys will be running out to pick up this latest installment. But I can’t help feeling that the more casual Tiger players would be better off sticking with last years offering. Paying out for a new installment each year is a bit much anyway, but not being able to enjoy the online modes if you try to save some cash by getting your game used feels cheap. What is wrong with offering an incentive to gamers that buy new, rather than punishing gamers who don’t?
Well, the online code is an issue, but it doesn’t stop the game from being very good. The new stuff that has been added makes the game a worthwhile purchase (as long as it is purchased new), but perhaps only for those who passed on Tiger Woods 10. Then there is also the competition from the new Tiger Woods online game, which I have heard is great. It is worth thinking carefully before making the purchase.