Tiger Woods PGA Tour 11 Review

Lee Abrahams

Oh my, is it annual update time again? Surely not or my alarm would have gone off by now. Ah, it seems it is indeed the start of the deluge with the traditional forerunner being of the golfing variety. As ever you will be hard pressed to see what changes have been made to justify yet another outlay of cash, but at least Tiger seems to be heading in the right direction after a few under par offerings. See what I did there?

If anyone shouts ‘In the hole’ ... I’ll kill them.

Moving on from my impeccable comedic timing, Tiger Woods 11 is pretty much the same title as last year with a few minor tweaks and only a couple of more weighty changes. Most golf fans will buy this game regardless of what we pen to paper here, but at least it is worth saying that, on the whole, things have picked up quite nicely. It is also worth noting that this is the first game to take part in the controversial "Project Ten Dollar" scheme for online play – so if you do not buy the game new then be prepared to splash out a bit more in order to take your golden swing online.

The basic gameplay and options are pretty much the same, with a variety of different modes and the lengthy career to take your newly minted player through, should you so desire. Tiger 11 has its traditionally deep creation mode, and the ability to customise your player as you progress by using any XP that you earn is still very much a staple of the career mode. As ever, your success and failure are reliant on some skilful timing of your trusty analogue sticks, but at least EA has put in a couple of new features to ground the game a little. In years gone by, it is fair to say that things became a little too easy, and players could hit birdies and eagles with alarming regularity. However, this time around you will have to work for your success – well a bit more than usual anyway.

The most important addition this year is the Focus meter, which is basically your power bar for using, for want of a better term, the special moves in the game. A bit of extra spin or power, using the putt preview option and the like will all deplete your Focus meter – meaning that you have to plan ahead and decide whether or not it makes sense to gain an early advantage or save your skills for later in the round when a single shot might make a bigger difference. It does not make the game insufferably difficult, but it means there is a stronger element of realism present, rather than just using the same arcade style powers time after time.

Remember: Be the ball.

Next up is the True Aim mode, which makes you aim your shot as you would in real life, with less help from the accuracy circle. Once you hit your ball you will just have to stand and watch how it fares, rather then following it via a camera. It makes the experience a lot more like playing golf in real life, as the crowd will respond to how well - or poorly - you hit your shots. It is not mandatory feature, but it does enhance the experience and bring the game closer to the real thing, which is what golf fans have been crying out for.

The other major addition comes in the form of the Ryder Cup - a little event that you might have heard of - whereby the brave Europeans constantly get one over their more illustrious US counterparts. Something like that anyway. The event plays out on a grand stage, but somehow lacks the sparkle that accompanies the real thing, not to mention the emotion. It is nice to have the option, but the whole thing just plays out exactly like any other event in the game with nothing extra to really make it stand out. You will play through the event once and have a great time, but the lure really is not there to draw you back again and again. With a bit more presentation and flair, it could have been so much more.

The online aspect of Tiger 11 is tightly polished once again and will offer the title's longevity. With an array of tournaments, Gamernet challenges and Pro events, you will have you hands full, but it is nothing that we haven't seen before. You can play with up to 23 other players online, but the odds of just randomly getting that number of people together is slim to none. Chances are then, it will not really be the amazing, regular experience that EA undoubtedly hoped it would be. That being said though, at least matches play out in a lag free manner and cater to people of all abilities – Gold certainly seems to attract a more laid back style of gamer and that can lead to some fun tussles.

Golf ball fireworks – it’s the future.

Sadly the achievement list is hardly going to set the world alight and draws a number of similarities with recent iterations. Racking up birdies, grabbing points in Gamernet challenges and levelling up your golfer will all see you rewarded. There are also a number of pesky online achievements most notable of which will require you to play a full 12 versus 12 player match... Have fun organising that one! You will also be rewarded for winning a Ryder Cup and using the new True Aim and Focus modes. Nothing too challenging if you are prepared to put in the time, but a real lack of originality nonetheless.

Tiger Woods 11 is yet another fairly successful fine tune from EA. The game certainly does not break the mould or truly push the envelope in terms of creativity, but there are enough good ideas here to make it a worthwhile purchase, especially if you have given the last few titles the cold shoulder. The Ryder Cup is not enough to make this a compulsory purchase and you would hope that it is built upon and refined in next year's inevitable replacement.

Suffers from the same problem as every sports game – repetitive commentary. Couple that with the fact that some of the lines seem to be rather insipid and you have an uninspiring experience.

A slight improvement this time around, although, truth be told, the golfers still only have a limited number of animations. At least the courses and wind effects are suitably impressive.

As solid as ever and the addition of True Aim and Focus mode helps to enhance the challenge and create a more fluid and realistic experience.

A great variety of online and offline modes, backed up with some fresh ideas and solid gameplay. If only the Ryder Cup was more of an ‘event’ rather than just a lengthy tournament without any real motivation.

A fairly bland list really and one that is far too similar to past efforts. Not to mention trying to get 24 people together online is going to be a fun time for everyone.

Tiger 11 just trickles into the great category thanks to the few new features that do make a difference, although the core game mechanics remain the same. The Ryder Cup was a solid addition but could have done with an extra layer of dazzle – which is strange considering EA are normally top drawer in terms of presentation. A good golf game, but there is still room for improvement.

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