STAFF REVIEW of Tiger Woods PGA Tour 10 (Xbox 360)

Friday, July 3, 2009.
by Rick Wallace

Tiger Woods PGA Tour 10 Box art Ah yes, Spring has gone by and Summer is upon us (if you are in the northern hemisphere that is.) The sunny skies and beautiful temperatures lure everyone to the golf course. And the release of Tiger Woods PGA Tour 10 is upon us as well. EA Sports decided to release Tiger much earlier this year to coincide with Father's Day in the US. And I have no problem getting Tiger in my hands earlier than expected especially with this years high quality game.

Yes, I said it right off the bat. Tiger Woods 10 is going to knock your socks off if you are a golf fan or a fan of the series. The game boasts all the features you have come to know and love and has added in a variety of new features as well including Live Weather, Playing with the Pros online and a host of online daily and weekly tlly the game looks great. Whether is sunny skies on Pebble Beach or a torrential downpour on TPC Sawgrass the game's presentation is top notch. Character models look awesome and the create a golfer feature that uses the Create-A-Face feature seems to have been fine tuned to work better than it has before. Each course is detailed in every aspect from individual grass blades to rippling water hazards. This is definitely one of the best looking games in the series to date and probably of all console golf games of the past. You'll get full tournament galleries watching your every shot that grow and wain with your performance. I mean honestly, this game has it all graphically. The courses look amazing in every detail and are recreated to the point that if you have played on one of these courses in real life you'll recognize subtle things here and there.

In the sound department, welcome in Scott Van Pelt as your new color commentator. If you have not seen some the promo videos of him heckling Tiger about not being in the game then you should go check them out on YouTube. Anyhow, Van Pelt definitely adds a welcome change of atmosphere and comic relief to the game which seemed to be getting stale over the years. Kelly Tilghman provides the main call and seems to mesh well with Van Pelt's antics and witty one liners. Of course there will be some repetition in commentary but it does not seem to be quite as prevalent as in years past and honestly does not get on your nerves when it does happen. When it comes to the courses and ambient sounds of your surroundings you will find no lack of support here. Whether its birds chirping or bull frogs croaking in a hollow, you will hear it. The rain is not over done either and is tolerable unlike some games that seem to think rain sounds like its pounding a tin roof without any kind of break in the loop. One of the coolest sounds is the ambient galleries cheering on other things taking place on the golf course. Say an eagle was made on a nearby hole, you will hear the crowd react and the roar of their cheers will echo through the course.

Gameplay is solid in Tiger 10. While not a lot of huge differences in the game mechanics for Tiger 09 players there are subtle differences. One of the biggest differences in the game is the putting mechanics using the Precision Putting option. I used to pride myself on being a decent to good putter in the Tiger Series, but that went out the window with the precision putting. You really have to think putts through now and play the correct breaks and slopes to have a shot at making good putts. You'll have the standard amateur mode which gives you the ability to power up shots and spin the ball while in mid air. And Tour Pro difficulty also returns and for those unfamiliar with it, this mode is a lot more difficult and closer to real life golf.

There are a ton of game modes as I mentioned earlier which can be played online or offline. You'll have the standard game of golf like stroke play, match play and skins but you'll also get mini games and tourney challenges that pit you up against the pro's in certain conditions upon certain courses. You'll need to complete these challenges in order to unlock the courses for you to play in the Play Now mode. You'll also unlock apparel and better equipment through the challenges, career mode and other modes of play.

The same skill system is back from last year and the same frustrations seem to follow it as well. You'll gain and lose skill points from your performance in round, challenges and even in online tourneys. So if you don't want your golfer's attributes affected then I suggest when going online to play single player tourneys that you use an established pro or even Tiger. Your attributes are affected the same whether you are playing amateur difficulty or the Tour Pro mode. A bit unfair I think, especially for some of the conditions they use online. The skills are capped at 10, but you can add a 2 point bonus for each of the 4 categories for a total of 12 max points.

The swing mechanics for this years game seem to have been tweaked a little but not changed all that much with the exception of putting. Sidehills, wind and bad lies all seem to affect the ball the way they would in real life which is definitely welcome. There were times when it seemed the wind would have little to no affect on the ball and could be quite frustrating when you play it a certain way only to find your ball go straight as an arrow as if there was no wind. With putting, you'll have Classic Putting and Precision Putting at your disposal and can decide which you would rather use. Personally, I like the Precision Putting but I just have no mastered it yet nor am I even close to mastering it.

Another one of the new features I enjoy has to be the ability to play the courses under Live Weather conditions via The Weather Channel. So if its pouring in the town home to your favorite golf course then you'll be playing in the pouring rain in the game. Now of course this is an option you can choose to have on or off in your single player adventures and even when playing versus online. You won't be as lucky when playing the predetermined online events and tourneys.

Speaking of the online events and tourneys, Tiger 10 boasts an all new online tournament system that has been updated on a regular basis since the game hit shelves in mid June. You'll have a lot of singles events at both difficulties with varying conditions such as extreme playing conditions to amateur live weather tourneys. You'll also get to play with the pro's which is a single play event that matches you up against the what the pro's are actually doing on the real life course. You only earn earn money from these events and there is no world leader board for this mode of game. You'll only find your name on the event leader board along with the top pro's playing in the tourney. Unfortunately there is no flight system in place for the online tourneys, or at least one that works well and you'll see golfer shooting unbelievable scores of -28 in a round compared to say your -10. I am not sure if there really is a perfect system as folks will always do what it takes to put themselves a top a leader board in any game it seems.

EA's Gamernet Challenges also make a return and allow you to post or play challenges created by folks playing the game. Long drives, Special Shots, 9 Round Scores and 18 Round Scores are all the types of challenges you can participate in and you'll earn Gamernet Points from each challenge you complete or bust. Gamernet points are also gained while playing your career mode and can pop up at anytime throughout the course if you fall under the right conditions set by another user.

As I stated, there are plenty of options, game modes, unlockables and events to keep you busy throughout the year with Tiger 10. One can easily spend hours of their day busting challenges or playing through their career mode. All the things you have come to love in Tiger are here including trophy balls, course records, and the fairly new Club Tuner. Honestly speaking, if you are a fan of golf or the Tiger series than this game should most definitely be in your library. Do yourself a favor and go check it out.

A better flight system is needed for online tourneys to better group players of the same ability levels. I would also like to see some FREE DLC come to the game rather than having to pay for fantasy courses or a course that was handed out to pre-order gamers.

Overall: 8.9 / 10
Gameplay: 9.0 / 10
Visuals: 9.0 / 10
Sound: 8.5 / 10


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