Tiger Woods PGA Tour 09

So here we go again, another yearly update of a much loved gaming franchise, could I be any more excited?  Well in this case, I must confess, Tiger 09 was not on my wish list for no other reason than I feel ‘been there, done that’.  I will admit though to this time being, slightly, wrong in  my pre-judgement of this game, it actually has enough features going to make it a worthwhile purchase.  First though I think that I should point out that, to me, Tiger 07 was the best in the series, it was the second next gen outing for the game and had all the features I was looking for and it looked pretty damn good too, so to say I was disappointed with 08 would be an understatement.

Tiger 09 kicks off with a test in four parts to ascertain your skill level, this takes in power, accuracy, short game and putting, based on your results you are given a starting level from which you can earn more skill points as you play through the PGA tour mode.  The tour mode has you playing on various courses over the space of a year, earning money and skill points as you progress, alas I found this mode quite empty as you really are just playing round after round of golf albeit on different courses.  Other modes on offer are traditional modes like stroke play, match play, skins, best ball etc.  There are also a selection of mini games such as target, putting , driving etc.  All of these modes are played on the large selection of courses included which range from Wentworth to Pebble Beach and St Andrews plus many more.  All of the courses are looking spectacular and the detail has increased greatly, the water now looks particularly wet!  The mode you’ll probably spend the most time on though is Tiger challenge, here you play to meet certain criteria (longest drive, least amount of shots etc.) which then give you points and when you have enough you can challenge a pro player.  If you beat them you can use them in other game modes, there are ten pros in all with Tiger, of course, being the last one to unlock.  This mode offers the most diversity and doesn’t feel as laborious as the PGA mode, although it seems an awful lot to go through just to unlock various players.

Of course Tiger 09 wouldn’t be a proper EA game without the myriad of customisation options available and here it is no slacker.  You can create your own golfer to play through the game and every aspect can be changed from ear shape to beer belly, indeed if you had a mirror to hand you could make a scarily accurate representation of yourself.  You can also use the 360 vision camera to photograph your own face and use it in game should you so desire.  During the character creation I had to laugh though as at one point the menu was telling me to “Adjust your ethnic background” I’m sure that could have been worded so much better!  You can also purchase different clothes and accessories for your character and club sets/ golf ball purchases will increase your stats slightly, but mostly these are cosmetic changes.

The main addition to this iteration of Tiger 09 is to have Tiger Woods’ own coach, Hank Haney, to tutor you as you progress through the game.  At first I was sceptical but after a while it became apparent that this was a great feature, the most important part being the performance tuning and club tuner.  With these tools you can practise your swing and then fine tune it to allow for any discrepancies you may have, for example, if you have a tendency to hook the ball you can set it up to compensate and even your shots out, you can even add a little extra distance or height to your shots.  This can then all be saved to your character and club set, which is a god send as it is now a whole lot easier to hit great shots consistently.  Part of this is the Real-time Swing feedback meter!! which is displayed at the bottom of the screen in every shot you play, this shows if you are swinging back accurately and if you may push left or right, or indeed straight, in your forward swing.  You can of course click the right thumb-stick and select three press shot mode ( press to start swing meter, press to set power and press to stop on accuracy)  but I much prefer the left thumb-stick swing method.

A welcome addition is in the online play, where for the first time, four people can play together at the same time.  This is not what you may be thinking though, when I say at the same time that is exactly it, you don’t need to wait for the other three people to play their shots because you are all playing the same hole together, at the same time!  This drastically cuts down the length of time needed to play a round with friends and makes the whole experience much more enjoyable.  The game also features the now famous EA Trax soundtrack but I was amazed to see that it only had eighteen songs, but then I suppose it is only used in menus and the like so….None of the tracks jumped out at me, very background music would be a good description of them.







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