Licensed games have a reputation for not being all that good, but most of the licensed sports franchises on the market today are fairly solid. Tiger Woods PGA Tour is one such series, and the newest iteration of the franchise on the Wii tweaks the formula to ultimately provide players one of the best golf games around with Tiger Woods PGA Tour 09 All Play
By far the most exciting aspect of Tiger Woods 09 is the Wii-specific control. It’s executed wonderfully and after playing with the Wii Remote, it’s going to be hard to go back to the traditional analog-stick control schemes. We get so many Wii games these days where Wii Remote controls feel incredibly tacked-on and generally shallow; it’s nice to see a game that really takes advantage of the system’s capabilities and provides a genuinely immersive, satisfying control experience. The Wii Remote gives you an awesome amount of control over your swing and employs nearly one-to-one reflection on-screen of your actions with the remote (imagine what they’ll be able to do with MotionPlus!). You’re given the ability to control minute details of your shot, and this option is something that hardcore fans of the series or of the sport of golf are definitely going to appreciate.
To add to the depth of control, you’ve got three different control options: All Play, Normal, and Advanced. All Play is obviously geared toward new players and makes Tiger Woods 09 a real pick-up-and-play title. You’re given trajectories of where the ball will go before you actually hit it, making it easy to take good shots. Normal is probably the best control scheme because it provides a nice mix of challenge and functionality without being over-the-top realistic like Advanced. The final mode (Advanced) is too difficult for most people and it doesn’t feel as fleshed-out as Normal mode. You’re given no previews or trajectories whatsoever; making Advanced a mode only for people very confident with their golfing skills.
While the “All Play” title may suggest that this is a game geared toward golf newcomers, it in fact belies a seriously intense and challenging golf game. Even diehard fans of the Tiger Woods franchise are going to be satisfied with the level of difficulty that the title offers. The control schemes are what give players some wiggle room in terms of difficulty, but, regardless of which mode you use, you’ll have to play smart in order to win. The A.I. is excellent, and while Tiger Woods 09 maintains a family-friendly attitude, it doesn’t dumb the game down at all.
Tiger Woods 09 is a solid game of golf, and the numerous play modes give you countless ways to have fun with the title. By far the most enjoyable single-player mode, however, is the career mode. During your career, you’ll play through a variety of golf tournaments trying to improve your game, defeat opponents, make money, and secure sponsorships. It’s an addictive and generally rewarding experience and is sure to keep you entertained for a very long time.
Outside of the extensive gameplay and solid golf mechanics, one of the most impressive aspects of Tiger Woods 09 is the ways in which it genuinely appeals to both newcomers to the series as well as hardcore gamers. Casual players will likely appreciate the easy-going All Play control scheme and the deep character creator. On the other hand, the Club Tuner is a great addition to the series that allows serious players to custom-tailor their clubs to fit their own personal play style.
One of the only real flaws that I can find with the Wii version of Tiger Woods 09 lies with the game’s visuals; they look better than ever on the Wii, but, naturally, still don’t stack up well against the graphics on the PS3 and 360. Tiger Woods 09 is still a good-looking game, however, and the game contains a handful of new courses that are brand-new for this version of the franchise. The new courses in particular look quite nice, and while the title is by no means a technical marvel, it’s still a fairly impressive game just in terms of visuals. Additionally, the Wii controls are so much more satisfying than those on the 360 and PS3 that I’d say it’s definitely worth getting the Wii version despite the mild graphical inferiority.
Once you throw in the fantastic multiplayer mode, you’ve got yourself a seriously awesome game. With Tiger Woods 09 you can play with up to three other people online on a variety of different courses. In my time with the game online, I didn’t come across any lag and the way that the online mode is executed is brilliant. The other play modes are great, but it’s the online that makes Tiger Woods 09 a must-buy game for golf fans.
There’s the standard EA interface, where you can peruse lobbies, send messages, and set up games. Once you actually get online, up to four players can play through a course simultaneously, so there’s no boring stretches when you’re waiting for others to take their swings. That said, you can see colored trajectories representing swings that your opponents have taken, as well as real-time scoring. It’s an addictive system and Tiger Woods 09 easily has one of the most robust online modes of any Wii game to date, including such blockbusters as Mario Kart Wii.
Rounding out the multiplayer package is a set of golf-related mini-games for up to four people. None of them are all that exciting, but some of them do manage to be interesting. Some of them feel pretty lame (for example, driving around in golf carts with a top-down view trying to collect golf balls), but others are clever and fun while they last (for example, a game in which you and an opponent try and spin the ball either toward or away from the hole). Finally, there are several golf-related variations for a single players, from a golf version of Horse to some more basic and boring “hit the ball through the ring” ideas.
If you’re a golf fan, you’ve got to buy Tiger Woods PGA Tour 09 All Play. It’s the definitive game of golf this year, and the yearly iterations to come will surely improve upon an already-great game. Even if you’re not a huge golf fan, this game is definitely worth checking out. Between the beefy career mode, distracting mini-games, and insanely addictive multiplayer mode, All Play is well worth the money you’ll spend on it.
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 3.9 Graphics
While they don’t compare to the visuals of the PS3 or 360 versions, the many different courses look great nonetheless. 4.8 Control
Sophisticated, intuitive, responsive controls make it easier than ever to immerse yourself in the game of golf. 3.4 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Repetitive “cheering” sound effects with no real music outside of the menus. 4.9
A lengthy career mode combined with the endlessly-enjoyable online play makes All Play one of the most enjoyable golf games to date.
4.6 Overall Rating – Must Buy
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.