When you’re as good as Tiger Woods is, does it really matter if there are other golfers on the course or not? The same approach can be taken with the Tiger Woods PGA Tour franchise. Year after year, EA Sports rolls out yet another improved entry in this venerable franchise, attracting legions of golfing enthusiasts in the face of very little competition. While that throws the whole “competition breeds excellence” argument out of the window, Tiger Woods PGA Tour 09 steps up to the tee and delivers yet another championship season.
Much like Madden 09, you’re going to be greeted by another great coach when firing up Woods' latest outing for the first time, with the inclusion of the golfing sensation’s long-time coach, Hank Haney. As expected, Haney will be on hand to provide you with some useful advice on past mistakes, as well as some stale hints at what’s to come. You start your introduction into the world of PGA Tour ’09 by taking a couple of practice swings within different scenarios in which Haney will grade you before sending you off into your career akin to a baby bird leaving the comfort of its mothers nest.
In terms of actual game modes, the Tiger Challenge is back and provides a substantial portion of replay value as you battle your way against ten other golfers in hopes of squaring off against the cover athlete himself in an 18-hole showdown. Just like past iterations, the Challenge starts of easy enough yet becomes progressively difficult the further you advance. This mode is also littered with small challenges that you’ve come to expect including the famous Bingo-Bango-Bongo and match plays against specific golfers. Tiger Challenge is one of my personal favorites ever since it was first conceived, and though it does provide a lot of entertainment, the meat of the game will always lie within creating your own character and building him/her to greatness.
The character customization option borrows heavily from last year’s outing, which in this case is a favourable move considering the Tiger Woods franchise is often regarded as the upper echelon of customizable creation. Gamers have the option of putting their own face in the game or utilizing the facial construction features to bend and mold their physical facial features to their liking. The Pro Shop is also still intact and offers up a full range of products that you’ve come to expect. Golfers are capable of changing up shirts, pants, shoes, clubs, and more. All of these changes also can directly affect your attributes and therefore make you better or a bit more average on an overall scale.
Once you have your pro lined up for play, you’re more than likely going to head into the PGA Tour Season mode to build up your attributes to a respectable level. Unlike past instalments, however, you’re not going to be able to rely on balancing out those little yellow pips in order to increase your talent level. Instead, EA Sports has implemented a system in which your attributes will fluctuate dependent on how well your golfer is playing. This means if your short game (or putting game, for those unaware) is lacking, your attributes will tend to dip a tad. The same can be said for your approach shots, drives, and other various shot tactics.
Another refreshing idea that has crept its way into the title is the ability to finally see why you’re shanking shots. I’m sure I’m not the only one who has yelled out obscenities at the television after hooking a shot I know should have been perfect…right? The new real-time feedback meter displays on the lower left corner of the screen and gives you a complete representation of your backswing to show where you’re going astray. This not only helps tighten up your golf swing, but also prevents those hair-pulling moments of frustration that ultimately lead to the controller being slammed down onto the floor. However, this feature isn’t the only unique component that 09 has to offer - club tuning has made its way into the game as well.
Club tuning is new to the franchise and allows golfers to change the way clubs react in every way. Players will be placed on a driving range where they’re giving the option to change the workability, spin tendencies and power a club offers. Each change to a club however will alter the perfect impact point of the ball making it a tad harder to hit that perfect line drive. While you’re making your adjustments, Haney will be alongside you grading your changes, which give you an idea as to whether or not you should scrap or keep that change. Overall, Club Tuning is a welcome addition as it helps both newcomers and hardcore players get a better grasp on improving their overall quality of play.
For many gamers, however, the most attractive features of the Tiger Woods franchise its online capabilities. It’s a great feeling to know on a rainy day you can meet up with three of your friends online and play a round of golf as though it was a perfectly sunny day. Of course, many of you may have had past gripes with the length of time it used to take to finish a round of golf, which is why EA Sports has implemented a simultaneous golfing option which allows users to all golf at the same time opposed to one after the other. This has cut down the round-length pretty significantly and in turn allows you to get more golf in overall. Unfortunately, I had some difficulty connecting online, though it seemed to be sporadic and not always an issue. Aside from this issue, the online component accomplishes everything it should do.
Graphically, Tiger Woods 09 is a decidedly mixed bag. While Woods himself looks great, the remainder of the character models are noticeably lacking, and could certainly look a great deal better than they do. Overall, there doesn’t appear to be a great deal of improvements on the visual side of things since the last outing, which is somewhat disappointing.
With the 18th hole coming to a close, Tiger Woods 09 delivers a full package of golfing goodness that gamers have come to expect with the franchise over the years. With great additions like the real-time swing aid and the ability to tune your golf clubs, Woods' latest virtual outing gives owners of previous instalments more than enough reason to upgrade to the latest model. Highly recommended.
-The Final Word-
Tiger Woods 2009 offers golfing gurus a near perfect round of golf.
|Platforms reviewed : PlayStation 3|