After years steering the Tiger Woods franchise EA has got golf down pretty well. The PGA Tour series is a perennially satisfying way to play the links, either as an established superstar or as your own unique competitor. There's no reason to mess with success, so aside from a revamped putting system, new features implemented for Tiger Woods PGA Tour 10 aren't so much changes as additions to last year's edition.
- Excellent basic game
- Great online game
- Good new putting system
- Some noticeable visual improvements
- Audio commentary is flat
- Crowds and backgrounds need more detail
- A few lingering camera issues
After years steering the Tiger Woods franchise, EA has got golf down pretty well. The PGA Tour series is a perennially satisfying way to play the links, either as an established superstar or as your own unique competitor. There's no reason to mess with success, so aside from a revamped putting system, new features implemented for Tiger Woods PGA Tour 10 aren't so much changes as additions to last year's edition. Primarily, the US Open is now playable, and there are great new online tournament options. Since Tiger has always played the serious simulation angle, that's a big deal. But is the allure of the US Open, online and off, worth the upgrade?
The Song Remains the Same
The core game remains quite solid. The left stick is still the best way to drive the ball (though on some difficultly levels a classic three-point power gauge can be activated) and the control set is compact, yet thorough. Real-time feedback displays just how true your swing is; you'll see a line showing whether you're swinging straight or slicing, etc. The club tuner returns to help offset your swing deficiencies; you can counter tendencies to slice, for example, or tweak a head's sweet spot. It is still a bit off-putting for casual players but a lot of fun for careerists.
Once again, you've got four primary stats (power, accuracy, short range, putting) as introduced and occasionally trained by Hank Haney. The option to drill on flubbed shots from a round you just finished returns. Since training up skills can be terrifically dull, that's still a great way to improve your game. The fact that equipment affects your skill stats remains a bit dumb for a simulation, but that's easy to live with.
One Putter to Rule Them All
A core goal this year was refining the approach to putting. The new system essentially applies the analog driving mechanics to the game on the green. When putting, you'll see a tall rectangular meter with a yellow zone. The goal is to draw the left stick back until a marker within the meter hits the yellow, then push forward. A line shows how true your 'swing' has been, giving you an extra bit of feedback. The old multibutton putting mechanic can be enabled, but this method is much more in keeping with the general feel of Tiger Woods, and is a great addition.
Competition is Good For The Soul
The new heart of Tiger Woods lies in the US Open. In basic round-to-round play, that might not seem like a big deal. But having the tourney full of demanding drives on hand should be a massive boost for fans, especially when it can be integrated with new Live Tournament options. Essentially, players can drop into tourneys that are available on a daily and weekly basis, either submitting one out of a finite number of rounds or playing and submitting as many rounds as desired, depending on the rules.
Augment that with the Play the Pros feature, in which you'll play against scores posted weekly by pros on the real circuit, and things get interesting. Things we loved from last year haven't even been cut out to make room for the new goods. You can still play games in Simultaneous Stroke mode (where multiple players play the same hole at once), for example.
Looking Younger Every Year
EA has made some changes to the game's presentation, and many are quite welcome. The data displays are slicker, course flyovers still look good and offer concise detail about what to watch out for on each hole, and crowds are larger than before. Granted, they're often clapping in perfect unison, which is a letdown, but hearing distant reactions to your shots is a neat thing. The crowds know what's going on down on the fairway because there are more flat-screen displays around the green, showing them (and, by extension, you) how a round is going.
Still, a few extra details would be nice; from characters to background details like clubhouses, the presentation is still a bit flat. Obviously, the emphasis should be on the courses, but a slightly more detailed shading system wouldn't be undeserved. There's also the occasional tendency for the camera to linger behind a rise or bunker, so you can't see where your shot has rolled to a stop.
No, Really, Don't Speak
Sadly, audio commentary is once again thin and unimpressive. Scott Van Pelt will often call out where your ball is initially going to land, but isn't able to follow though to really comment on the complete shot. So a shot that will land in the rough but bounce or roll out is called as a shot in the rough. How tough can it be to get this aspect right? Fairly difficult, it seems. This is two lackluster years in a row.
Last year we acknowledged that Tiger 09 didn't exactly reinvent the game, and this iteration offers few new over the top features. The new stuff is well-implemented, but the classic EA Sports question stands: how essential is this upgrade for players in possession of Tiger Woods 09? Having access to the US Open and Live Tournaments should speak for itself, really. Casual players who just want to tool around the links can stick with the lesser.