Gamers were teased by the Wii Sports pack that Nintendo bundled in with their Wii console. While a few of the games were excellent, most notably bowling, others were lacking. The golf game especially drew ire not because it was necessarily bad, but because the potential for a golf game on the Wii is just monumental. The little remote that could seems custom fit for a good golf game and who better to take up the challenge than EA Sports?
All the features that you enjoyed in other iterations of Tiger Woods Golf are here. The courses are plentiful and most of your favorite golfers are in here. I couldn’t find Freddy Couples, but maybe he’s hidden a little deeper than I looked. There are about 10 bagillion modes of play, including some arcade modes that, while gimmicky, are fun diversions from the more traditional modes. But that is not why you are reading this review. You want to know how the game controls.
I am happy to report that Tiger Woods for Wii may be the best sports game you play this year. Not only is it complete and nice to look at, the controls just take this game above any other sports, let alone golf, outing available. Swinging is done exactly like you would want it to be done. You pick up the wiimote, you get down in your stance, hold B to indicate you are ready to swing and then let it rip. Tiger Woods succeeds where both Super Swing Golf and Wii Sports golf fail in that your swings feel visceral and accurate. You will be whipping huge shots off of the tee in no time. The controls are quite realistic and often (sometimes painfully) mimic your real life golf game. I tested many different swing styles, going from more of a baseball first-time-golfer swing, to a shot with proper turning of my wrists, and the difference in the game is tremendous.
Where the controls falter a little is in the short game. You would imagine that putting would be difficult with these controls, but the real problem is in the approach. It will take you a few sessions to get used to making carefully aimed and timed approach shots. To do a shot like this, you need to bring the remote up slowly and then swing once your golfer has his arms as high as the shot you want to do. It works, but it will take some practice. In fact, for optimum initial enjoyment, I suggest you play with mulligans on, as inexperienced players might accidentally trigger a shot by casually pressing the B button or there is a mis-cue from the game.
The controls and main game are very solid, but the presentation could use some work. The in-game character models are very detailed and the environments crisp, but the interface is just unforgiveable. Some of the decisions made on the UI boggle the mind, like only allowing one player to choose a character at a time, and the last player to hit A gets control of the screen. The create a character interface is especially ugly and problematic.
What Tiger Woods on Wii represents is effort on EA’s part and the result is a very enjoyable sports experience. The controls alone make the game, and in future iterations, I expect the rest of the game to catch up, and the glitches in the controls to be ironed out. A wonderful first outing.