Tiger Woods is a name that needs no introduction. Rising to fame back in 1996, he's since become one of the most successful golfers of all time, becoming the face of EA's PGA Tour Golf series for over a dozen titles. While it’s all too common to see yearly updates of sports titles from EA, the question is does the game offer anything new, particularly with Move controller support?
There are several main modes available here. You start off going through a set of training missions and creating your own character to play as. There's a great level of customisation available here, such as ethnicity, hair colour, skin features, eye colour and much more. There's also the option to use the PlayStation Eye here, which will take your picture from different angles and then generate a game face from this, a good idea in theory but one that can be difficult to execute well. After this, you earn XP awards for developing your character's attributes in the “My Golfer” area, as well as clothing and clubs to use.
The game does a good job of virtually recreating the sport with some realistic physics but unsurprisingly it's very similar to the previous entries. Like before, the game stars a wide range of famous 18 hole courses from St Andrews to Pebble Beach and a large set of famous golfers to play as from our title star Tiger Woods to others such as Rory McIlroy, Colin Montgomerie, Jim Furyk and more.
The regular offline mode is for those of you looking to play a match either alone, with the computer or with up to three friends, among other different modes such as team play. The game also features several options to customise your matches, such as weather and wind settings, how many holes you'll play, your choice of course and players, whether mulligans are allowed or not and more. Everything's very simple to setup here, and there's a large variety of modes that add some good replay value to the game.
There's no storyline to the career mode; all you'll need to do is complete some tournaments at your own pace, from a full-scale PGA Tour to the Ryder Cup, making its first appearance in the series. You can choose between the U.S. or European squads and then take part in several different types of matches, such as fourballs and singles. You also have the option to swap matches while you play through the tournament, giving you more control over the outcome of the tournament. It's surprising to see that the Ryder Cup wasn't included in previous games as it's a good addition that feels right at home here.
When it comes to taking your shot, the Move controller is put to excellent use: it's sensitive enough to detect minor twists and rotations, meaning you can change the angle of your club's head just by altering your grip on the controller. Swinging dead straight is an art form that professional golfers spend years mastering, and the system employed here mimics it just accurately enough to be satisfying. If you want to curve the ball there are no sliders or markers; you achieve spin by hitting across the ball at an angle. Want a delicate chip shot? Hit the ball gently. When putting, a marker shows how much power you're likely to put into the shot, a blessing that makes holing out more straightforward.
At first you might find the system frustrating as you hit the ball off-centre time and again, but with practice and skill you learn to hit properly, thinking about the position of your wrists and rotation of your hands. Just as the game's standard DualShock controls bring more accuracy to the swing system, so do the Move controls: in time, you'll truly improve your swing.
The only thing that lets the Move controls down is the way in which you position your shot's landing point. Holding the Move button brings up a circle on screen with a cursor inside, and moving your pointer to the edges of the circle moves the target market in the appropriate direction. The problem is that making delicate adjustments to your shot, imperative on some of the tougher greens, is a frustratingly twitchy affair: the marker only moves when your cursor touches the circle's edges, so there's no slow build-up or sense of analogue control. It's not a game-breaker – you could always use a Navigation or DualShock 3 instead – but it would have been easier all-around to offer better analogue control using the Move alone.
Online Mode has a lot to offer as well, with a large variety of game types available. There's a set of Tournaments alongside ranked matches and the ability to create your own online lobbies, either private or public, with access filtered according to skill level, region and so on. It's always enjoyable to play against others online and golf naturally means there's no lag between players. Golf is a sport of patience though, and it can often be boring to wait for others to take their turn, so to combat this EA implemented a 20 second time limit for players to take their shot. While this is good in theory, the fact is that you'll often find yourself rushing to take a shot, making it hard to give your shot the precision it may need.
For the online mode, EA uses the controversial Online Pass system, part of a new strategy by EA to discourage sales of second hand copies of games. Online Pass is a code included on the back of each instruction manual that grants you access to full online play. However, the code will only work once, so once used the next buyer will have to pay a fee of £6.29/$9.99 just to have access to online play. There is a 7 Day Trial available for online play in the game but once this is used up you have no way of playing online without paying the fee, which could leave some gamers rather unhappy, particularly those on a lower budget.
Graphically, there's not much improvement from the previous entries, which isn't too surprising. Some of the textures appear blurry from a distance, but the animation and motion capture is uniformly excellent. On the audio front there's hardly anything here outside the menu's usual selection of EA Trax, although the commentators lend an air of authenticity to the proceedings on the fairway.
The motion controls help to bring a refreshing change to Tiger Woods' latest outing. Providing a high level of control, they'll either delight or frustrate, depending on how much time you want to put into mastering your swing. Gamers just after a simple game of golf without having to worry about the rotation of their wrists should look elsewhere, but anyone serious about the game will likely lap this up.