Every year EA comes out with a new installment in their Tiger Woods series, and this year they added enough new features and modes to this year’s edition to make it a worthwhile upgrade over last year’s model.
The three big additions to Tiger Woods this year are the new Ryder Cup mode, the Focus system and the true-aim mode. Ryder Cup mode allows you to play with up to three friends in a team match pitting American players versus European players. Unfortunately, while it lets you customize the roster of each team, there are only 25 golfers in the game, so there really aren’t enough other golfers around to change up the teams. However, the mix of foursomes and fourballs is an enjoyably different way of playing Tiger Woods. During the Ryder Cup, you are playing a match play style of competition. This means that it doesn’t matter how many strokes your team wins a hole by, if you win a hole, you get one point. The team with the most points after four times through the course wins.
The Focus system is the way Tiger Woods controls how often you can use the various power-ups present in the game. These power-ups are extra power on your stroke, adding spin to the ball, tightening your aim, and getting a preview of your putts. Each use of these power-ups uses up some of your focus, and the only way to restore your focus is by not using any of your power-ups when you take a shot. This is a great way of making a player restrain themselves from using power-ups every shot.
The true-aim mode is a new, more realistic way of playing Tiger Woods. It gets rid of all the power-ups and forces you to play from the player’s perspective the entire round. This is great for those who want an added difficulty for their game.
The highlight of the single player game is undoubtedly the career mode. The first thing you’ll do upon turning on Tiger Woods 11 is create a custom golfer. The career mode takes your created golfer and puts him through his paces by pitting him against the world’s top golfers in a year’s worth of tournaments that make up the PGA Tour. The great thing about using your created golfer is that you gain experience points you can use to improve his stats by doing anything in the game, from landing on the fairway to scoring long putts to getting birdies or eagles.
As far as the multiplayer is concerned, there are ten modes you can play, ranging from the standard stroke play to foursomes to a 24-player team play. There are ample amounts of people playing online at almost any time off day, though you’ll rarely get into a 24-player team match simply because few are willing to wait around for 24 people to join a single match. You are much more likely to find yourself in a match with 2 to 8 players. Regardless of how many players you end up playing with, you’ll have a great time doing so.
Tiger Woods 11 includes 17 different courses, all of which look amazing. The graphics are some of the best and most realistic I’ve seen in a sports game and the sounds really bring out the feeling of being out on the courses. Unfortunately, the commentary leaves much to be desired. The commentators regularly get your lie wrong, and in general detract from the overall experience.
The only real problem I had with the mechanics of the game lies with the putting meter. It gives you a ‘sweet spot’ which it claims is the amount of force you need to use to reach the spot you are aiming for. Unfortunately, it doesn’t take elevation into account, so it is often dead wrong.
The last thing to mention is that Tiger Woods 11 is the first game to use EA’s Online Pass initiative. This means that the only way to play online is to either buy the game new or to purchase a new code to play online, if you buy the game used. Luckily, it does include a 7 day trial that you can activate once, to see whether you want to purchase the online portion or not.
In the end, Tiger Woods 11 is the best golf game available right now. Whether it is worth an upgrade if you already have Tiger Woods 10 is debatable, but it is definitely worth upgrading from any previous version.
Pros: Custom golfer is a nice touch; Playing through the Ryder Cup is fun and different; Plenty of online modes
Cons: Putting meter makes putting harder than it should be.