|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|
Despite the game's few faults, there are additions that have definitely improved the TW 09 experience. A sterling example is that of the new Dynamic Skills progression system that takes consistency into account. This means that simply dropping skill points into key attributes is only half the battle. Players will have to truly concentrate on consistently producing world class shots if they want to maintain their skill level. This feature makes every shot count. In that way, character progression is far more realistic and rewarding than it was in any other previous version. This is a mechanic that should definitely stay.
Also, there have been a couple great additions to online play and connectivity. These new features include simultaneous online Stroke Play and EA SPORTS GamerNet. Simultaneous online play, while limited to Stroke Play, has vastly decreased the amount of time it takes to play through a round while online. This new feature works flawlessly and is an absolute boon to the series. Perhaps no other single feature is as important as simultaneous online play.
As far as connectivity goes, GamerNet has been refined from last year and is incorporated into the mix in a very slick and interesting way. While playing through tournaments and matches, players from around the world will be able to save their shots and post them to the EA servers for others to try and best. Subsequently, the game will prompt you to take on online challenges at various points during the round. These challenges can either be accepted by the player or ignored altogether; they're simply side tasks that are both difficult and rewarding. If you take on a challenge, you will then be given a score and world ranking for your performance. This is a great feature that does a wonderful job of expanding the online community.
Finally, new players and courses have been added to give gamers more options. International and domestic PGA TOUR players and official courses are well represented in TW 09. Players will have no trouble finding an abundance of pros and links from which to choose. Moreover, having such a varied list of professionals and courses is a joy for any player of any skill level. That's because the diversity acts as a great handicapping device. For example, if your little brother wants to challenge you to a round of Match Play, you can let him take Tiger and you can use one of the many available scrubs.
Also, gamers can still choose to use either the analog stick or 3-click Swing controls while challenging friends or advancing through their own careers. However, players' use of the 3-click Swing controls will be rightly curtailed on Hard or Tour difficulty levels. Both control styles are excellent, but the analog stick swing controls are certainly far more technical.
When all is said and done, Tiger Woods PGA TOUR 09 is another excellent addition to the storied franchise. However, without meaning to sound like a broken record, TW 09 is not a significant improvement over last year's outing. In fact, the dull voiceover work is woefully worse, and that's a real shame! However, if you like to play Tiger Woods with friends, the new, simultaneous online play feature for Stroke Play may be the one upgrade you shouldn't do without. For everyone else, picking up a used copy of TW 08 won't be much of a sacrifice. Of course, that's not to say TW 09 isn't great; it's surely the best virtual golf experience around.
CCC Editor / News Director