You will feel right at home with this year’s offering , If you’re familiar with Tiger Woods games. In terms of its interface, Tiger Woods has become quite an intimidating beast to newcomers over the years and there are a number of aids and control schemes that must be learned. Thankfully, the tutorial is excellent and those who spend a little time getting to know the game will be enjoying themselves on the virtual fairways in no time. PS3 owners have even more to get excited about with PS Move support being added in the coming months. At the beginning you create a golfer in the impressively detailed set-up menus; added camera support allows you to put your own face on your creation. Novices are then encouraged to play through the handy tutorial, which will familiarise them with the various aspects of the game and introduce them to this year’s new features.
Last year’s Tiger Woods 10 became the apex of everything that the series had achieved to date and it seemed an impossible task to improve on what felt like the perfect formula. It’s therefore a credit to its creators that, once again, Tiger Woods is the go-to-game for golf fans, offering enough new tweaks and features to keep them enthralled without changing the game’s much loved core aspects. After a rough year in the spotlight, Tiger Woods is back to grace the cover of his new PGA Tour release, and for the 15th game in the series, he’s joined on the cover Rory Mcilroy in celebration of the Ryder Cup. Though competition is notoriously light for this genre of game, this is easily the best golfing sim on the market, mixing in the various aspects of the sport precisely and layering on features that lend the gaming experience a sense of realism.
So, what are the new features that make Tiger Woods PGA Tour 11 worth a look? Well, outside of the usual tweaks and upgrades, Tiger Woods 11 has two genuinely game-changing additions that loft this year’s release to dizzying new heights. The first is the focus meter displayed on your HUD. This meter is drained every time you use additional boost, spin or accuracy aids on your shots until it is empty. The only way to build up this meter (albeit slowly) is by playing shots without the use of such aids. While this sounds simple enough, in reality it has a major effect on how the game is played. Whereas in previous versions use of boost and spin on each shot became the norm, this time round you must pick and choose your moments carefully for fear of having nothing in reserve when you really need it. The focus meter helps in delivering a much purer golfing experience by concentrating the gameplay on your aim and swing, while limiting the additional aids until they can be used strategically to gain an advantage.
The second main addition is the True Aim mode. Here Tiger Woods attempts a true simulation of golf by stripping away most of your tools that aid your progress. This means that you’ll be relying solely on your swing and knowledge of the course to land on the green. No longer will you be able to aim at the direct spot you wish to hit, instead seeing the course from the golfers perspective with only an arrow on the horizon giving any indication of where you’re aiming for. Thankfully a helpful satellite image of the course stands as a reminder to its layout, although unlike in normal play this can’t be used to aim your shot. From here you’ll play each hole and even watch the ball fly from where you stand, adding a new sense of realism not seen in the series to date. While most may find this mode too difficult, it’s a welcome addition to the game that is sure to delight its hard-core fans by going further down the route of simulation than ever before.
The career mode doesn’t deviate too much from its structure in earlier releases; players take their golfer around the world, earning and spending experience points on levelling up various stats. While this mode is still impressive, I did find the first few months (in game) quite a struggle. Players face a bit of a grind in the early stages before they’re able to boost their statistics to a decent competitive level. When not concentrating on levelling up your character, there is also the chance to represent either Europe or the US in the Ryder Cup tournament. Here the regular golfing format is mixed up so that each hole is played in teams. On top of this there are a plethora of other game modes to keep players occupied including the regular stroke play, match play and four ball to name a few. There are also a selection of eight mini-games that are fantastic fun (either in solo or co-op) and which help to players hone their skills.
As always, Tiger Woods is absolutely brimming with enough content to get any golf fan excited. With over 25 professional golfers and 17 real-world courses on offer, there is more than enough variety to keep the various modes fresh. Alongside the old favourites are 5 new courses to get your teeth into including Celtic Manor Resort, The Greenbrier, Liberty National, TPC Scottsdale, and Whistling Straits. There are also endless customisation options including everything from the swankiest set of leather gloves to the snazziest pair of Plus-Fours money can buy.
Head online and you’ll still find the vast majority of play modes available (though sadly not the mini-games) to play with friends and strangers alike. Like last year there are a number of weekly tournaments to take part in via the uploading of your scores onto online leader boards. Perhaps of more interest is the inclusion of online team play where up to 24 players can compete in pairs to represent Europe and the US in a Ryder Cup-style competition. Overall the online features of Tiger Woods 11 are excellent; additions such as on screen information showing how your opponents are doing are cleverly delivered via a news ticker and even your opposition’s shots are traced with lines showing their paths.
The graphics in Tiger Woods have once again been tweaked with some detailed new grass textures and golfer’s clothes now flapping in the wind. Despite these new additions onbe can’t help but feel that the Tiger Woods engine? is starting to show its age. Though by no means a bad looking game, one can’t help but feel slightly disappointed by some under whelming character models, stiff crowds and occasionally bland courses. The same can’t be said for the sound which is, and always has been, sublime. The whip and crack that comes with striking the ball perfectly and hearing it soar is as satisfying as ever and the gentle course effects such as tweeting birds and murmuring crowds set the tone perfectly. Though the commentary does occasionally become repetitive, it’s still solid and offers up some very comical one-liners, which raise the occasional smile.
. That having been said, Tiger Woods PGA Tour 11 is the best Tiger Woods game to date, and if you’re a fan of the series and the sport then it’s an essential purchase. While Tiger Woods’ real world form may have taken a slight dip as of late, the same can’t be said of the latest video game with his name stamped on the box. If you’re a casual fan of either the franchise or the sport (or both), then Tiger Woods PGA Tour 11 may not hold that much appeal – especially if you own an earlier iteration. While the new features are certainly interesting, the series hasn’t moved on significantly enough to make it a must-have title