Tiger Woods PGA Tour 09 Review
October 20, 2008 by Jereme Puik
There are a number of new additions added in to Tiger Woods 09 this year, everything from new courses to added players. EA Sports has consistently released a series that has continued to improve upon itself from the previous year. Making Tiger Woods the cover boy only helped to greater improves its retail sale on the market. They’ve managed to create a gameplay system that is both easy to use and fun to the casual gamer while still remaining challenging enough for the hardcore veterans of the series. It’s probably one of the few in EA's long list of licenses that has been consistent in improvement.
As a game in general, golf might not be everyone’s cup of tea. Sure, it’s not something most people won’t watch on Saturday or Sunday afternoons, but it’s one of the few sports that has translated well into video games over the past few years. Tiger Woods has always been dedicated to the gameplay and before you write it off, makes sure you at least give it a second thought. With the evolution of the now trade mark swing stick, it might be the right time to invest in this latest release.
Returning are two options for skilled veterans of the series and those who just prefer the old school way of handling things. There is the analog stick or swing stick method and the simple 3-step button faced method that you might remember from games like Hot Shots Golf. New this year, is the addition of a visual aid to your swing. The aid lets you know how to improve your next shot and let’s you know what you might have done wrong on your last shot. Another new change to the gameplay invites you to take some lessons from Tiger’s personal coach, Hank Haney. Now, each player will have their own individual style when it comes to showing it on the green. Haney comes in to help improve your game.
Giving you tips and tasks to complete during your pre-career start; once you boot up the game this is where you’ll begin your career. After creating your character and starting your career, Hank will give you complete feedback based on putting, drives, and short game. He’ll have you working on a series of targeting drills to help improve your shot accuracy and power. After each task you’ll earn specific ratings added to your power, accuracy and in general improves your created character. Although, Hank provides a strong presence in the beginning of your career, he doesn’t stick around long enough to make a lasting impression. The most you’ll get out of Hank during your career are his notes based on your completed holes but essentially he virtually disappears after training.
Now instead of maxing out your stats and becoming god on the golf course, there is a varying dynamic skills system in place to keep your golfer more down to earth. After each hole you’ll be tracked based on your ability to sink puts in a timely fashion. Perform well and you’re ratings increase which adds to stats like power, accuracy and so on. Start hitting towards Par and above and you could see yourself in dire need of some birdie’s and eagles. Each course is designed to take those stats in varying lengths. For example, if you manage to hit long clear drives on clear and sunny courses, you could see that power rating drop once you hit a windy course. Now, to help you keep a consistent rating you can always return back to Hank's drills to improve your consistency. While it might feel a bit tedious, it does help improve your game on many levels and is worth a look.
Aside from the robust character creation that made a return this year, you now have the chance to tune your clubs. After watching the intro video, you can pick your club and begin adjusting several sliders that are meant to increase power or accuracy in each club. Of course, you’ll find that each club has its own drawbacks. If you’re aiming for power a distance you could find that hitting the sweet spot on the green might be little difficult and other drawbacks will show them as you dig deeper in the club customization.
EA Sports has managed to integrate EA GamerNet seamlessly into the single player and online portions of the game. So in essence, during you’re career you can also manage to beat someone else’s drive or put and take over their top position online. The other online modes are pretty much the same as last years however updated to a certain extent. As you compete with other players you won’t see their golfers but instead their swing efforts in the form of multi-colored lines. This can get quite frustrating when you’re aiming for accuracy as each player takes their shots the same time as you do.
The overall presentation of Tiger Woods PGA Tour 09 is quite artistic to say the least. Golfers are given a more emotion this time around. Human models are detailed and vibrant almost forgetting you’re playing a video game and not watching that famed match on the Sunday afternoon. Character creation offers players the chance to well, be creative and create their own vision of themselves or someone fictional. Each golfer has there own unique expression on the golf course and gives way for a more realistic experience.
The commentary team from Tiger Woods 08 was in need of a new script and what we get here is a entirely new team. This is something I’m sure most hardcore fans won’t be pleased with. The new team of Kelly Tillman and Sam Torrance make for a more bland experience on the golf course. The commentary, while detailed, isn’t exactly relevant about 50% of the time and is emotionless, which brings the sport of golf in video games down to a sleeper run. The crowd interacts with your shots as is the given with any sport. Don’t expect a round of exciting commentary between the new team mostly because they don’t play off each other as you might expect.
There isn’t much that distinguishes Tiger Woods PGA Tour 09 from the crowd aside from its updated swing mechanic. Although, you could say that the bold move of integrating EA GamerNet with the single player career mode was a good step. The GamerNet allows gamers to beat out other player’s shots and drives. If you are able to place that same shot you replace the past user who landed it. If anything must be considered for the game, is its robust career mode. The stats system greatly increases your chances of getting better after each hole and keeping those ratings at a consistent rate is a task in itself; each failure in attempt striking off a rating and each successful put adding to it.
Tiger Woods PGA Tour 09 doesn’t shake things up in the series but does improve it enough to keep things entertaining for the most part. The new visual aid and stat ranking system add to the challenge of keeping a professional skill level during your career. What I would’ve liked to see is more varied design in courses, more options for the caddies and taking a ride in a golf cart for the fun of it. Where can EA Sports go from here? Well, that’s up to the developers, gameplay is reaching its boiling point and a good solid direction to go from here would be straight into the club house.