|System: X360, PS3, Wii, PS2, PSP||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: EA Tiburon||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: EA Sports||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Aug. 26, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-4||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Jonathan Marx
Tiger Woods PGA TOUR 09 (TW 09) has released to anxious golf fans everywhere. Veterans of the series shouldn't get their hopes up too high, however. Like all EA SPORTS' titles, TW 09 is largely the same offering as last year. It seems as though EA is content to give gamers small amounts of polish and slightly increased content. After all, they are running a business.
Nevertheless, "planned obsolescence" of previous versions through the release of bigger, better, and varied must-have features doesn't seem to be working all too well; there simply aren't enough of them to warrant concurrent purchases. In fact, some of the new additions this year are actually a letdown. Still, TW 09 is an excellent golfing sim that touts unparalleled replayability, loads of game modes, tons of courses, and improved online multiplayer gameplay.
For those few of you new to Tiger Woods, the game boasts an incredibly varied set of traditional game modes. The single and multiplayer modes include Stroke Play, Match Play, Skins, Bingo Bango Bongo, Stableford, Alternate Shot, Best Ball, Four-Ball, Greensome, Bloodsome, Battle Golf, and Lance Armstrong's favorite, One-Ball. All off-color jokes aside, these game types, along with excellent technical execution, are what make this title so fantastically rich and realistic.
However, because TW 09 is so similar to its predecessor, I'm simply not going to rehash what was already said about the title in last year's review. Suffice it to say that the gameplay is awesome and this is the best golfing franchise out there; bar none! EA SPORTS has done an excellent job over the years developing a golfing simulator that is both utterly realistic and highly accessible. TW 09 is merely the latest game in a long line of exceptional sports entries. In other words, there are only a handful of new features this time around that help to mildly refine the series' already excellent core play.
First of all, Tiger's coach Hank Haney has been brought into the fold to incorporate the new Performance Coach feature; even pros need a little instruction. This is a nice addition to TW 09 because players are able to practice shots they had difficulty with after a round to help perfect their situational awareness and skills. Plus, these Custom Drills give your player a temporary boost heading into the next round. Additionally, the all-new Club Tuner helps to round out the new coaching mechanic. What the Club Tuner allows players to do is tweak their clubs to allow for greater consistency from round to round. For instance, by sacrificing sweet spot, players can adjust the way the ball flies off the club face, or they can adjust the degree of club face angularity to soften or tighten up wood play. This has the effect of tailoring the equipment directly to your swing path and general tactical bent. This feature, while helping to up the realistic ante, in the end, feels somewhat superfluous. That's because players will eventually tear through TW 09 regardless of making a visit to the swing doctor or not. Nevertheless, it is a sound addition.
As interesting as these new coaching aspects are, Hank Haney is a bit of a drip. That guy's about as lively and exciting as watching a full season of "The Big Break." Seriously, he sounds like he could have been an alternate for Ben Stein's character in Ferris Bueller's Day Off. Plus, the advice he gives typically is a conglomerate of canned phrases that don't have more than obvious pearls of advice.
Along those same lines, perhaps the most disappointing new feature to TW 09 is that of the pairing of Kelly Tillman and Sam Torrance. This commentary team has as much chemistry and spark as the '07 Dolphins in a monsoon. It's not that they're unprofessional; they are simply quite boring with very stilted delivery. I know; McCord and Faherty's corny jokes from previous titles' definitely began to wear thin, but their voiceover work far outpaced anything this "dynamic" duo has to offer.
Luckily, the graphics are as crisp and diverse as ever; the courses, backgrounds, animations, and lighting effects are great. The only problem I found was with the player creation tools. For some reason, the Photo Game Face feature seemed to function better last year. Plus, I was unable to transfer my '08 visage to TW 09 from my console's HDD.