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Review

Review: Tiger Woods PGA Tour 11

Tiger finds the hole.

It may have been a tricky year for the world’s most famous golfer but EA Sports have stuck with him and kept him on as the titular figurehead for their incomparable golfing series. But does Tiger Woods PGA Tour 11 hit a hole in one or does it crash its SUV into a fire hydrant and have to issue a humble apology?

The first load results in the now-almost-expected early-launch patch (on the PS3 version tested it was 275mb) and the mildly irritating attempts to cajole the player into signing in to their online account. After that we’re straight into creating our golfer.

Character customisation is as complete and polished as we’ve come to expect from EA Sports titles with everything from head height to foot width configurable via analogue sliders. EA’s Game Face system makes a welcome return and, while it is prone to making you look like you’ve got a terrible skin affliction if used via the PSEye, it works beautifully if you upload photographs (or use previously loaded ones) to the EA website.

Tutorials are gentle on those of us who have been away from the series for a few years and competently explain the various controls and systems required to get you started on your career to PGA superstardom. Each tutorial comes with a bonus lesson which explains a related aspect of the Focus system and awards you with Experience Points (XP) for successful completion.

From shot power through accuracy and ball spin to putting assistance, the Focus system is your friend. Essentially a meter which refills with every shot you take without using a particular aspect of focus, it provides you with some help when you need it for weaker areas of your game or if you get yourself into a tricky spot. When you use your Focus to assist you it depletes and must be rebuilt before it can be used again.

The awarded XP is used to upgrade your golfer’s attributes via a series of gauges relating to the various skills required to become the next Tiger Woods. You earn XP for completing rounds of golf while making certain shots and hitting various common targets or by competing in the mini games (of which there are many). You also use your spare XP points to buy items from the Pro Shop to alter the appearance and abilities of your golfer. There might be a shirt which makes you slightly more focussed or a club shaft that makes you more powerful.

If the targeting system is a little too unrealistic for you, or for an extra challenge, you can set your system to the new True-Aim. Rather than the default of being able to see where your ball will end up and move the target circle around the fairway you will only see the view from behind your golfer. This means you have to choose a direction (you do have a GPS mini-view of the hole to avail of) and use your judgement to get the power, movement and spin right.

When PlayStation Move finally hits retail it will be fully compatible and, if the accuracy claims are to be believed, the True-Aim mode coupled with the motion controller should make for a very realistic simulation of the game.

While we wait for the newfangled control systems to be released we’re stuck with the standard controllers. Left stick controls your swing, with timing, precision and rhythm important to an accurate and powerful stroke. Tapping a face button during back swing allows you to add power and tapping the same button during the ball’s flight (in conjunction with the left-stick) adds spin. Other face buttons allow you to select a shot type (punch, chip, full etc.) and see your targeting circle. Shoulder buttons are reserved for adding draw and fade to your shots to give you left and right movement in the air. Everything feels tight and responsive and the controls, although customisable, are natural just the way they are (for right-handers, at least).

EA Sports are hugely experienced and the presentation is as slick and accomplished as we’ve come to expect from them. Menus are plentiful and intuitive with none of the lag that has plagued recent iterations of FIFA. Load times are reasonable between holes with the scorecard popping up before every tee to make sure you don’t lose count of your round.

The animations and character models are smooth and well-rounded with each virtual golfer bearing a reasonable likeness to their real-life namesake. Likewise, the courses look gorgeous with little repeated texturing and some decent attempts at making grass look interesting. The rain-effect is slightly poor but that’s a very minor niggle offset by a wealth of praise elsewhere.

There are a wealth of game modes to play around what feels like a decent selection of courses (although the game does take the opportunity to direct you online to buy more). There are seventeen courses, each with the full complement of eighteen holes, so you should be able to spend a while with the game before your knowledge of it all is complete. Add to that the mini-games including target golf and the game’s version of HORSE (imaginatively titled TIGER) and you shouldn’t get bored of the possibilities on offer.

Before teeing off on each hole you are treated to a flyover of the hole and a commentator tells you of the most sensible options for your approach as well as the lie of the green. This is extremely helpful and well worth listening to, at least the first few times around, as it give you hints for strategies which make the holes much easier to get around.

As long as you’re connected to the network you will also get various optional (and subtly signposted) Daily Challenges, which are accomplishments by other players around the world on that particular hole which you can try to better.

The online mode, accessed via EA’s Online Pass, gives a great number of options for setting up your game over the network. You can select a game based on difficulty, skill levels or region. Games can be ranked and match-made or simply between you and a friend from your friends list. The GamerNet section gives you access to certain challenges set by other users so there should always be plenty of fresh material to keep you interested.

Another interesting aspect to the online side of things is the Live Tournament section. This allows you to test your game against real-life scores on the same (or similar substitute) course by professionals competing in live real-life tournaments.

Finally, the twelve-versus-twelve Team Play pits Team Tiger against Team Rory (McIlroy, the latest hot property on the global golf scene) and allows a large-scale team game.

Pros:

  • Looks lovely.
  • Controls are intuitive.
  • Plenty to do for the enthusiast.

Cons:

  • Slow pace might not be ideal for everyone.
  • Adverts for new course purchase can make it feel incomplete.

There really is no other option for the golf fan. Tiger Woods PGA Tour 11 is the only realistic emulation of the sport for home consoles. With its myriad of options and game modes there should be plenty to keep you occupied and, as long as you’re prepared for the almost lethargic pacing, it is a joy to play.

Score:  8/10

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25 Comments
  1. cc_star
    Team TSA: Writer
    Since: Forever

    The Wii version is reportedly pretty darn good, so it will be interesting to see the PS3 version when Move launches.

    Comment posted on 24/07/2010 at 15:11.
    • Origami Killer
      Member
      Since: May 2010

      I had one of the versions on wii and it was awful, fpr every shot you had to slam it, the wii sports version is much better to play as some skill is invovled, it think it was 09 version, took it back very quickly

      Comment posted on 24/07/2010 at 18:37.
  2. hairfreax
    Member
    Since: Jun 2009

    I was expecting a Tuffcub review with a Tag Headline like that

    Comment posted on 24/07/2010 at 15:29.
    • JesseDeya
      Member
      Since: Jan 2010

      Awe, he changed it to something tamer. Well, I thought it was amusing anyway :)

      Comment posted on 24/07/2010 at 21:13.
  3. Roynaldo
    Member
    Since: Nov 2008

    I buy this every year. Casual layed back gaming at its best.
    Decent review of what it does. Seems this lacks opinion though, its more of an inventory.

    Please dont shoot me.

    Comment posted on 24/07/2010 at 15:32.
    • colossalblue
      Team TSA: Editor
      Since: Forever

      Totally fair comment. I tried to steer clear of personal opinion simply because I don’t like the sport and didn’t want that to colour how I spoke about the game. For the record, I do like the game (and my dad loves it). As you say, it’s laid back gaming – perfect for a Sunday afternoon ;)

      Comment posted on 24/07/2010 at 16:16.
  4. tonycawley
    Pint! Pint!
    Since: Feb 2009

    Good review, nicely sums it up. Played quite a bit of this on my father in law’s ps3 and i find the focus system to be a very good addition to the series. I’m wondering though why this only merits an 8 in your opinion, you’ve not really given any negatives other than that it may be too slow paced for some. Same can be said for flower, yet that gets universal praise. I would give this at least a 9, possibly even 10. I don’t really see how a golf game can get any better.

    Comment posted on 24/07/2010 at 15:44.
    • benny boy
      Member
      Since: Forever

      On this site, 8 = Very good. See here: http://www.thesixthaxis.com/review-policy/

      What’s negative about that?

      Comment posted on 24/07/2010 at 16:14.
      • tonycawley
        Pint! Pint!
        Since: Feb 2009

        I understand the rating system. What i’m saying is, if something has no negatives, it should be better than an 8, or better than very good. Excellent, Exceptional etc.

        Comment posted on 24/07/2010 at 16:17.
    • colossalblue
      Team TSA: Editor
      Since: Forever

      It is very good (hence the score) but it doesn’t really make massive leaps in the genre and there are a few areas where it merely rubs along. The visuals being a prime example – they’re good but in comparison to some of the work EA studios are doing with the Madden series and Sony are doing with MLB The Show the character models, textures and animations are slightly poor.
      So in short, it’s very good but there are many little areas where it could stretch a little further and become truly brilliant.

      Comment posted on 24/07/2010 at 16:20.
      • tonycawley
        Pint! Pint!
        Since: Feb 2009

        Colossal, thank you for the answer, i respect the way you come back like that and didn’t take my comment negatively. You’ve answered my question nicely, so thanks. My personal belief though, although you’re right that the character models could be better, it’s still an outstandingly playable game which isn’t massively negatively affected by the graphics. My personal score is 9, but that’s personal opinion. It’s difficult to review yearly updates, do you review them against last year’s release, or is it a standalone score? I think this focus system change is the biggest change in the franchise since way back when it went analogue stick control instead of the power meter.

        Comment posted on 24/07/2010 at 16:45.
      • colossalblue
        Team TSA: Editor
        Since: Forever

        This was reviewed as a standalone game because I haven’t played a “PGA Tour” game in a few years and it’s not fair to compare it to the old ones I did play to death!
        Yearly sports games are difficult to review because they tend to be incremental upgrades. It’s also tricky to make a review emotive without any narrative to reference.
        To be honest, I did toy with the idea of awarding it a 9 because there really is nothing of consequence wrong with it but I felt 8 was slightly fairer because of the little improvements which could have been made to many areas.
        Still really enjoying it though :)
        Oh, and I always try to answer reasonable and fair questions about reviews. I think this sort of debate is interesting, it might be worth doing something slightly more formal with future (big) reviews.

        Comment posted on 24/07/2010 at 17:08.
  5. Roynaldo
    Member
    Since: Nov 2008

    Just got the game and it crashed 4 holes into my first game. I hope this is just a one of coincidental glitch, will be pissed if this happens all the time.

    Anyone else have crash issues?

    Comment posted on 24/07/2010 at 18:10.
  6. badgersnapper68
    Member
    Since: Jan 2009

    Not sure about Golf games. Can decide whether to chip into the debate about this game as I really need to iron out my true opinions on the subject. However, golf games have come a fair way over the years….

    Comment posted on 24/07/2010 at 18:11.
    • tonycawley
      Pint! Pint!
      Since: Feb 2009

      Booooooooo. Hiss. Get him out.

      Comment posted on 24/07/2010 at 19:35.
      • badgersnapper68
        Member
        Since: Jan 2009

        I thank you! I’m here all week……

        Comment posted on 25/07/2010 at 16:46.
    • bunimomike
      Member
      Since: Jul 2009

      Fair point. Some golf games can be really rough but Tiger Woods is a quality title that avoids being on the fringe. When it comes down to it, will it make you more popular with the birdies? Possibly not, but there’s no reason why you can’t have a good thrash about in the sand-trap and see if there’s a hole in one.

      *goes off to write golf porn film*

      Comment posted on 24/07/2010 at 20:44.
    • JesseDeya
      Member
      Since: Jan 2010

      It might draw more interest for you when you tee it up with Move later this year. I might miss this hit for now, but hook into it with Move. It should also be cheaper then, and perhaps a Move bundle will drop nicely and slice some money off the total.

      Comment posted on 24/07/2010 at 21:05.
      • DannyFantango
        Member
        Since: Nov 2009

        Ditto,
        I’ve recently taken up golf again after a two year hiatus, and would really love the game with the move.
        I actually have a wii but I like good graphics and trophies too much.

        Comment posted on 02/08/2010 at 10:27.
  7. bunimomike
    Member
    Since: Jul 2009

    Very tempted to get this when Move comes out. I really enjoyed the 2010 demo.

    Comment posted on 24/07/2010 at 19:33.
  8. freezebug2
    Member
    Since: Dec 2008

    Great review Cb and on this game, already my younger bro is hooked on this game….try racers I said…Fuck off he said…cheeky bleeder. It is pretty good from what he says though.

    Comment posted on 24/07/2010 at 21:32.
  9. ericzap
    Member
    Since: Apr 2010

    I think a slow pace is to be expected in a golf game, and shouldn’t be treated as a con. Its in the framework of the sport, and not even Mario Golf (lovely game by the way) could really speed it up without it seeming… Wrong. That being said, very nice review, can’t wait to try it with Move.

    Comment posted on 24/07/2010 at 21:44.
  10. Rocket_345
    Member
    Since: May 2010

    Love this game multiplayer. theres nothing like having competition with people in the same room

    Comment posted on 24/07/2010 at 22:11.

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