It’s only a few years ago that EA were seen as all that’s wrong with the modern gaming publisher. Rather than offer fresh ideas and new experiences, they churned out yearly licenses that merely tweaked the existing formula, and relying on long-term fans to essentially buy the same product with a slightly shinier paint job.
Yet in recent times their ways have changed. Even the yearly sporting franchises started to take great leaps forward, none more so than the huge gap between the last two Tiger Woods PGA Tour titles. The 2009 iteration managed to cram in all kinds of improvements and brand new gameplay enhancements that nudged it all the way to true greatness. Sadly, Tiger Woods PGA Tour 10 fails to hit par.
The game works in much the same manner as always. You get to create your own golfer, or take control of your favourite club swinger, and take part in all those multinational tournaments that we enjoy watching so thoroughly. In terms of single player longevity, like another recent EA release Fight Night Round 4, your life could so easily be stolen.
Similarly, the standard analogue stick control system that the series saw fit to introduce quite a few years ago remains fully intact. Again, you pull it back towards your body to initiate the backswing, and swiftly punch it forward to send the ball rocketing forward down the fairway. All works in exactly the same manner as the last few iterations, though it does feel a touch more responsive.
The big change comes to the putting system. Now fully analogue like the standard golf swings, this change does make that final nudge into the hole a much more exciting prospect that before. Known as Precision Putting, it’s a huge step upwards over the long-term options that have previously been available to us.
Other changes are moderate, with changeable weather conditions proving to be far less exciting here than in any other sporting title out there. Where others will drastically change performance of your sporting heroes and how the games played, here it feels purely cosmetic.
For online gamers, the most exciting introduction will undoubtedly be the online tournaments that are constantly available. EA provide daily and weekly tournaments to anyone out there packing an Xbox Live subscription, giving you the chance to test your skills against the very best Tiger Woods fans the world over. The only minus point at the moment are these tournaments are severely daunting, particularly for those lacking in confidence of their gaming talents, with few amateur options available at this early stage.
In terms of additional options, that’s the lot. It reads like a reasonable amount, but if you disregard the online options, there’s very little to encourage a purchase for owners of Tiger Woods 09. And considering EA’s improving reputation over the last few years that’s a real shame.
Sadly the visuals don’t really seem to have changed to any reasonable degree. While claims are made of engine tweaks and improved visual clarity, everything seems to look pretty much identical to last year’s version.
Tiger Woods 10 is undoubtedly the best golfing title on the market at the moment. And the final score reflects that. But that doesn’t stop us thinking that perhaps the development team had an easy year, and are holding back for next year's iteration before making any major improvements. The changed putting system and new online options are nice, but unless you’re a fully fledged addict, you’d be hard pressed to see many reasons to shell out so much money on essentially what you bought last year.