Tiger Woods PGA Tour 10 (Wii)
Golfers have never had a problem with dropping dough on the latest and greatest piece of new equipment if they thought it would help their game. Up until now, that had been limited to the world of real golf. Now, virtual golfers have the same chance to spend some extra coin on a gizmo that promises to help them be more of a force on the course. EA Sports' Tiger Woods PGA Tour 10 is compatible with the new MotionPlus attachment for the Wii Remote. And unlike just about every other doodad that's being foisted on golfers, this one really will make a difference in your game.
The MotionPlus attachment fits onto the bottom of the Wii Remote and allows the Remote to send more detailed info about your movement to the Wii's sensor bar. The attachment is available as a standalone product for $20, or you can get it bundled with Tiger 10 for only 10 bucks more than the game alone. More and more games are being developed for the piece's heightened awareness of movement and placement, so if you're serious about Wii gaming, you're going to eventually need the thing.
Initially, I wasn't impressed with MotionPlus. I played Tiger versus Tiger on the game's new Banff course, with one Tiger being controlled by an old-school Remote and the other being controlled with the MotionPlus-equipped Remote. On the front nine, the old Remote ruled. The new Remote let me do some funky things -- which I'll get into shortly -- but the one thing it wasn't letting me do was to get the ball in the hole any faster.
Things flip-flopped on the back nine. I'd developed the bad habit of dogging it with the Remote and getting maximum power with less than a full golf swing. With the MotionPlus, you need to really perform a golf swing to get the type of power you want. Once I figured that out, new-school Tiger took over.
But it wasn't just figuring out how to get the most juice out of my club that eventually won me over. It's also all of the other things that you can now do. Draws and fades were a complete roll of the dice in Tiger 09. Half the time, the Remote didn't register with the sensor and your ball would end up in the woods, the water or a bunker. It was beyond frustrating. With MotionPlus, you have much greater control over the ball's movement. Twisting the Remote correctly during your swing gives you a perfect draw or fade every time.
MotionPlus also lets you see if your club face is open or closed. If your club face is open, you're going to slice the ball even if you do everything else correctly. Just like in the real game, you have to be aware of keeping your club face square if you want to hit the ball straight.
This visual representation of the club face makes adds an even deeper dimension to the game's new putting system. Unlike the one-year-old "classic" putting scheme, now putting is a two-part process. You have to draw the club back the proper distance, but it's your actual swing that determines how hard you hit the ball. Combine this with having to make sure your club face is square, and the putting game has just become a lot more interesting. The new system works on Remotes without the MotionPlus, but the added responsibility of focusing on your club face disappears.
While the new controller makes the single-player game more realistic than it had been, it's the game's new online features that will put a smile on golf fans. The "Play the Pros" online mode is just flat-out fun: During the season, you can be a part of a virtual PGA Tour event by playing four rounds on the same course that the pros are playing that week to see where you'd end up on the leaderboard. Adding to the realism is the game's new "dynamic weather" feature. If -- for example -- it's raining for the first round of the U.S. Open, you'll be playing alongside Tiger, Vijay and the rest in a downpour. You won't actually get wet, of course. On the other hand, you also won't get 1.3 million-or-so bucks if you win.
The features have their limits, though. Due to the fact that not every tournament course is included in the game, some weeks you'll be playing on substitute courses in Play the Pros. I'm also very curious to see how the dynamic weather feature handles things a few months from now. I'm looking forward to playing a round or two at Bethpage Black in February just to see what it's like to play 18 holes in three feet of snow.
When you're tired of serious golf, the game offers an assortment of mini-games from Tiger 09. It also includes a version of Disc Golf. Here, instead of using clubs and a ball, you throw Frisbee-like discs around the course to try to get from the tee to the hole. I'd read a lot about this feature, but ended up growing tired of it. More than anything else, it seemed like it was just there to show off the physics of MotionPlus-assisted gaming.
While there are a lot of developments to be impressed with in Tiger 10, the graphics aren't one of them. The courses are detailed and pretty, but character models are weak even by Wii standards. Most of the touring pros would be unrecognizable even to their family members, and Tiger himself looks a lot of the time like a guy with a banana lodged sideways in his mouth.
Maybe even more disappointing is the developers' failure to update the players' gameplay stats and attributes. The reason that most people buy the latest version of a sports title is to be able to play as the most statistically accurate versions of their favorite players. The pros in Tiger 10 have the exact same stats as in Tiger 09. That Tiger (after coming back from a broken leg) and Camilo Villegas (having won the final two FedEx Cup events) have the same stats for power, accuracy, striking, putting, etc. as in last year's game is just laziness on the side of development. (You will have a couple of new pros to play as, though. New this year are funky-belt-buckle-wearing Anthony Kim and non-funky-belt-buckle-wearing Rocco Mediate.)
Unlike the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 versions of Tiger Woods PGA Tour 10, whose improvements are limited solely to online components, the Wii game has been kicked up a notch or two all over the place. To take advantage of all of the new features, though, you'll need to spring for the new MotionPlus attachment. If you're a golfer -- and used to dropping $300 on a new driver -- the 10 or 20 bucks you'll spend on the MotionPlus is small change.
This review is based on a retail copy of the game purchased by the reviewer.