It's been a craptastic month for golfers and fans of the US Open, as the Bethpage, NY venue was getting rained out each and every day all thanks to the amazingly awful weather this wonderful state, and the Northern East overall, has been enduring. So what do you do when you can't even go outside and you can't even practice your swing? Why, you fire up your PlayStation 3 and insert a copy of your favorite golf game. Okay, so maybe it's not a proper substitute, but it does stil make for some fun.
I admit, I'm no fan of golf, nor do I follow it. The closest thing I've ever done when it comes down to golfing is mini-golf, and even then, all I do is smack the ball with recklessness hoping to get a dazzling and lucky hole-in-one. But, I do like golf games…in fact, many people enjoy playing golf games. It's just one of those sports that's more fun to play in a videogame, than it is to watch or follow. This year, with the absence of a Hot Shots game, we get only EA's Tiger Woods. And while this is still a solid title, those who own last years game don't really have much incentive to upgrade.
At their core, both games are largely similar with the exception of a few changed game modes. The Live Tournaments mode is a nice little addition where you square-off against the plays and scores made by actual PGA Tour golfers during a live and on-going event. So if there's a golf game going on at this very moment, you can boot up your game, enter the mode and it allows you to prove yourself against the pros. Of course, you're not just limited to playing against the scores of the pros, as there are daily and weekly tournaments available to play against gamers just like you.
Other game modes include Tournament Challenge, a mode where you relive historic situations and try to replicate them or change the outcome. The Career Mode, which acts as the core of the game, and where you'll take your own personal player through it all, is probably where you'll spend most of your time. You may also spend a good deal of time in the game's practice mode as it's a great place to get to know the game more and see just how weather has an affect on your game. You'll need to get acquainted with two new features for Tiger Woods '10, one is precision aiming and the other is live weather.
When required, Precision Aiming allows you to dial in as much power as necessary using your right analog stick and a little gauge will display just how much power you're loading up. For when you're not making 200-yard swings, and in a situation where power precision is extremely important, this feature comes in handy. By using up and down buttons on your D-pad, you can also dial down (or up) the strength of your golfer's full swing in relation to how much land you need to cover. It may all sound a little confusing, but once you see there in front of you, it makes sense. Of course, if you wish to just use the classic double-tap mechanic, you still can. And the second gameplay feature is one I already mentioned: weather. Enabling the live weather option means if it's raining in the state your venue is located, it'll be raining in your game. You will also notice that rain has an adverse affect, as the grass becomes heavier and more resistant, which will require a bit of extra power to sink a putt.
Lastly, you can also enter and play the U.S. Open at Bethpage, but if you've been keeping tabs on the game, you may have known that by now. I do believe that this Tiger Woods game is pretty good. But at the same time, I also believe that it's not nearly different enough to warrant a purchase. If you don't have a Tiger Woods game, or your last one was PGA Tour '08, then there are enough gameplay changes here to warrant the upgrade. Otherwise, last year's game is still more than enough.
Visually, this game boast some enhancements, but is missing the most critical one…player models. The golfers still look very bland and flat, and I'm surprised EA hasn't done anything about them. It's especially bothersome because the environments look a lot nicer this year, with nicer looking grass, better lighting, better trees, water, sand, and etc. But all of it is pretty hindered when you see these really out of place and dull golfers on the screen. As far as the more technical specs go, the framerate seems perfect during gameplay, but stutters in replays, aliasing isn't an issue, and the resolution is locked to 720p.
Then we have the audio, and much like the visuals, EA forgot to throw in a substantial amount of new speech. Making a mistake with Tiger Woods will have him repeat the same disappointed "Tigerrrr" over and over again. I actually can't quite tell if he's saying "Tiger" or just "grrr". And after playing with a number of other golfers, I've come to realize that Tiger may be the only one who actually speaks – everyone else is mute. But, there is an all new commentary presentation in place with Kelly Tilghman and Scott Van Pelt, which is nice, but not nearly as broadcast quality as its claimed to be. I wouldn't mind some optional banter at all times during gameplay.
As I've mentioned already, Tiger Woods '10 is a good game with a number of improvements over its predecessor. Unfortunately, it doesn't have improvements large enough to warrant a purchase for owners of last year's game. If you're a relatively new golf gamer, then this is the perfect game to start out with. I really liked the precision aim mechanic, the live weather, and the Live Tournaments mode. I am disappointed that the player models still look flat and that the audio wasn't enhanced any further. Regardless, as far as gameplay goes, this is good stuff.