“Tiger Woods PGA Tour 11”
@BR Box Type bold lede colon:Platform: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PC
Style: 1- to 4-player sports (24-player online) Publisher: EA Sports
Developer: EA Tiburon
Release: June 8
Some gamers have gotten so used to the way that the “Tiger Woods” franchise plays that they’ve been gaming the system and taking advantage of exploits.
This year, for “Tiger Woods PGA Tour 11,” developer EA Tiburon is trying to address some of that, which doesn’t sound like an exciting focus for the new title, but the beauty of the changes taking place is that they benefit players of all stripes.
I’ve always been a fan of the franchise’s single-player career progression: Completing challenges, drills and tourneys gave you stat boosts in specific areas depending on how well you did. I liked it because it felt like there was a lot of content, and I knew where to go if I needed to get more distance on my tee shots, for instance.
Now, the handcuffs are off. Everything you do in “Tiger 11” gives you XP points that you can spend however you want — including on the normal selection of stat-boosting clothes. Using this open-ended points system, you could conceivably concentrate every XP point you have and channel it into your Power attribute right away, and you wouldn’t have to grind to quite the same degree as before to do it. Although last year’s drills are gone, with the inclusion of the Ryder Cup and the return of the standard pro-based skill challenges, it’s not like there isn’t enough to do. If anything, you can get on to playing PGA events a little sooner, which is nice.
The game also introduces some unpredictability in your shots via real-time wind that can rise up or die during your shot, and more variance regarding where your ball lands and how you come out of the rough. I know no golfer or gamer likes to hear about unpredictability, but if you knew of a way to get your ball to land in the exact same place every time, which is what some “Tiger” experts have been able to do in the past, it wouldn’t be golf.
I certainly don’t put myself in the expert category, but I didn’t notice a huge drop-off in my game from last year, so I’m not complaining about the changes. If anything, it’s another element that makes the game slightly more realistic while still being fun.
Similarly, the True-Aim camera system, which only lets you see what your golfer would see (i.e. no circles showing you where the ball may land, etc.), makes things more difficult, but I didn’t get into it that much simply because unlike the Wii version where the camera actually tracks your head looking down at the ball before you hit it, True-Aim isn’t that fun to look at.
I was also wishy-washy on the Focus meter. It gives you a pool of points to spend on spinning your ball, accuracy and power boost, and Putt Previews. You recharge your meter as you play, so you won’t run out of it unless you rely on it all the time, but as a concept it seems a little strange. I can understand how it makes you pick and choose when to use it, but as a golfer, aren’t you always trying to focus and hit the ball perfectly?
I think a lot of players won’t notice too many of this year’s more subtle new additions, but will instead help themselves to the 24-player online, GamerNet challenges, online tournaments and five new courses. That’s fine, but the smaller improvements made to this year’s game offer players more freedom and customizability.