Tiger Woods PGA Tour 11 Review
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Tiger Woods PGA Tour 11 is a definite step in the realistic golf direction. With the new Focus and True-Aim features providing that extra layer of authenticity, Tiger proves he's back to capture the essence of golf, at least in videogame form.
- The new Focus and True-Aim feature
- Playing in the Ryder Cup online and offline
- The step towards a more authentic golf experience
- Still some visual problems
- Poor commentators
- More needed to advance the series
Every year a new Tiger Woods game comes out that attempts to build upon its predecessors success, as well as ironing out any lingering issues. This is the gist of all sports game franchises, and in general, Tiger Woods PGA Tour does a decent job of improving year-after-year. That is, of course, considering there is virtually no competition in the golf-sim market. The Tiger Woods games provide a fairly decent mix of realism and good old-fashioned fun. However, it’s the realism that has always needed a drastic kick in the butt, we’re pleased to announce that and this year’s installment has helped push the franchise in the right direction.
Tiger Woods PGA Tour 11, developed by EA Tiburon, is the latest game in the EA Sports golf catalog. This year marks some key differences compared to previous efforts, and it starts with the cover. For the first time in the series history, Tiger Woods is not alone on the cover; rather, he is joined by the young Rory McIlroy from Northern Ireland. Outside of his personal life and his on-again and off-again relationship with golf, the addition of another talented young player to the cover makes sense as the game has a heavy emphasis on this year’s Ryder Cup.
The fact Tiger shares the cover with McIlroy is likely the smallest of changes you’ll notice while playing the actual game, that is, aside from the few untouched mechanics. Sure, the basics of classic Tiger golf is there: build up your own character on the Tour, use a stylized approach to one of the most difficult sports through fun and relatively easy-to-play mechanics, and face-off against the PGA’s best. Still, while there are only a few additions that actually change things up, these tweaks are a welcome addition for anyone looking for a more authentic game of golf.
The most noticeable change to those who are familiar with the games is the new Shot Focus feature, which acts to spark power-ups. This probably doesn’t sound like “authentic” golf, but bear with us. Your golfer has a full bar of focus at the start of each round. Performing Power Boosts, spin, increased accuracy, and Putt Preview all decreases your golfer’s focus. Shot Focus requires you to make decisions about how you will play the course, instead of older versions where you could use spin and power boost as much as you wanted. This actually worked quite well. In our case, we are pretty lousy putters, so we always opted to expend our focus on Putt Previews rather than increased accuracy. As you use these abilities, your focus is drained preventing you from using the more advanced maneuvers. After a while, your focus returns, but it doesn’t come back quickly, so you must pay attention to your shots.
As much as we liked the addition of Focus, we felt there were a few things missing. For starters, our fresh-faced golfer had plenty of Focus to get him through a round at TPC Scottsdale, one of five new courses in this year’s game. But when we played as Tiger Woods or Adam Scott, we found we had just as much Focus as our rookie avatar. We feel Focus should have been an attribute you can spend XP into to improve, instead of having a level playing field for all golfers.
You probably noticed we said XP above. That’s right; this year’s game features an XP system for leveling your character. Gone are the cash prizes and dollars spent for improvements, replaced with an XP system that works pretty much like money from previous installments. You’ll earn XP throughout the game – during all events, even online – by doing little things like hitting a fairway in regulation, sinking a birdie putt, or winning Trophy balls. This XP is then used to enhance attributes, including swing speed, power boost, swing plane, draw, fade, touch, putting swing plane, feel, and tempo. The new Swing Tuner allows you to custom build and tweak your character’s abilities, using the integrated practice mode to visualize the changes.
The XP feature is a nice addition, but we must feel greedy, because we miss earning money. One of our favorite parts of Tiger games ... (continued on next page)