Of course, it isn’t all rainbows and jelly beans – though it would be fantastic
if it was. There are some fairly obvious set backs in fact that prevent Tiger Woods PGA Tour ‘09
from ever truly wowing us.
First up are the graphics. Now, we know that as a sports game the graphics for Tiger Woods PGA Tour ’09
have to be judged by a slightly different meter – the focus for the developers and players should fall far more on the gameplay structure and balancing than on the fact that the cloth physics aren’t up to scratch – but that excuse will only get you so far.
Unfortunately, by today’s standards the graphics for PGA Tour 2009
are a little under par, ha ha. (shouldn't that be over par? - Ed
) The after-shot animations are often stiff and detached, lacking any real believability. The same can be said for most of the voices in the game.
The environments too, while large and expansive, aren’t hugely beautiful and the various swathes of green and blue have no real depth to them. True, the graphics aren’t massively important here – but given that the environments and so on are so set in stone, it wouldn’t have hurt to go at them with some hi-res textures.
Another problem is that, although I can’t claim to have done extensive experiments in golf-ball physics, I’m pretty sure that there are some occasional errors. Balls dropping from cloud-height down to the fairway and stopping stock-still without rolling or bouncing. Hitting a ball straight into the ocean and getting branded with a lateral hazard – things like that. It never really breaks the game and is somewhat occasional, but it is there.
Thankfully, the gameplay itself isn’t hugely let down by the bland graphics and the basic set-up for the game is structured to be constantly open and accessible. For the singleplayer the main attraction is the Tiger Woods Challenge, which sees you progressing through a series of small events, each section of which culminates in a battle against a famous golfer. Complete them all and take on Tiger himself. The best thing about this section though is that the events aren’t all just vanilla golf tournaments – they generally run a wide range of smaller challenges. Completing three holes in under ten shots, hitting a ball a certain distance accurately, etc. Each can be completed quickly.
If quick games are your cup of tea though then you might be more attracted to the minigames section, which is nowhere near as bad as it sounds. There are no quick-time events or mindless Warioware
-alike fillers, instead there’s a selection of quick target practice games and some party games like H-O-R-S-E and a CTF variant.
Then from there, we’re into the multiplayer side of the court where things have been rebalanced. Now, instead of having to wait for each player to swing as you do in most golfing games, all players in a match can play at the same time.
That rather obvious and simple bit of streamlining is perhaps the most valued addition to the multiplayer game, but there’s actually a whole load of other stuff in here to help make the multiplayer a lot more fun. As well as new game modes and tweaks to make the game proceed faster, there are also things like the new club tuner which let you bring a personal touch to your admittedly bland in-game avatar by customising the weight, look and power of your clubs. It sounds small, but there’s an awful lot of pride to be had in developing the best tools for the job.
ConclusionTiger Woods PGA Tour ‘09
isn’t a perfect game. It has some identifiable flaws which are made all the more jarring when compared to the smooth accessibility of the basic gameplay.
The graphics are possibly the worst offender, though the physics and character customisation could do with some work too. Though it is sad to have to fault a good game based just on how it looks, the reality is that Tiger Woods 2009
could definitely do with some enhancements in terms of texture detail and variation.
That said, the gameplay is stronger than it’s ever been and the game represents a new height for the series in terms of playability. Players who are new to golfing can easily pick up the basics and charge right in to the competition proper, tackling better players on a mostly even playing field thanks to how adaptive the skill system is.
Still, nagging at the back of our minds is the doubt about whether anything here really makes Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2009
stand out on its own merits or if it just seems so great because it’s the first game to really nail what a golfing game should be about. Whichever is true, this is a capable and enjoyable golfing game that is held back by a few mostly minor, but obvious issues.