The Tiger Woods golf games have been a solid play experience for the past few years on every platform. The Xbox 360's and PlayStation 3's easy-to-learn controls combined with strong online support have ensured a high replay value. Fans had hoped the Wii's motion controls would improve the game further but were generally disappointed.
Enter 2009 and the new Wii MotionPlus accessory, giving the remote control near one-to-one motion detection for games programmed to use it. Simply put, your movements will be perfectly reflected in games. The upcoming Wii Sports Resort and Red Steel 2 include swordplay to highlight the enhanced motion detection, but Tiger Woods PGA Tour 10 was one of the first games available using this new add-on. If you're a golfer, you'll be hard-pressed to find a better golf simulator for use at home.
Once you get started, you hold your Wii remote like you would a golf club, pull back, and swing. There can be a stiff learning curve with this, though. I'm not a great golfer, so adapting to this left me irritable and frustrated after my first few rounds; every time I swung, I kept hitting a nasty fade by twisting my wrist. Having a more forgiving motion response in previous years of Wii Tiger made me take the swinging for granted initially. (For those who don't want to put a lot of effort into learning a golf swing, last year's "all-play" skill level can be used to simplify the game.)
Trial and error allowed me to see what motions affected my swing the most. The force and motion of your swing and the twist put on your club really matter when it comes to distance and fade/draw. It took me a few rounds to get the hang of a proper swing, but once you have your bearings, playing the game is almost surreal; I felt like I was actually golfing, just without the fresh air or sunlight.
The only exception to this motion-control accuracy is putting, which seems far too sensitive. Common sense tells me that moving the club back an extra half-inch does not result in a 10- to 15-foot overshoot.
While putting, a swing percentage appears that shows the distance to the hole and how much force you should use to sink the putt, but it doesn't compensate for the slope of the green. The best way to putt is to check the recommended swing percentage and try to match it on the power bar, but again moving the club back an inch should not result in a 24-foot putt. The learning curve frustrated me again, but once I acclimated to the control sensitivity, sinking a putt felt rewarding rather than just lucky.
Because the Wii version of Tiger Woods was designed around MotionPlus, a simple but addictive disc-golf feature was added, allowing you to play at professional golf courses. The disc golf alone makes the Wii MotionPlus bundle worth the additional cost for me. The amount of time I spent chucking digital discs actually made my elbow sore, but it was wicked fun. With a flick of the wrist, you're sending the disc almost 150 yards toward the hole.
Even without that, though, the fully realized motion control of the Wii MotionPlus has set the bar higher for both golf games and Wii overall. Without the accessory, though, the game plays almost exactly like last year's version. While still enjoyable, it definitely doesn't bring the same gratification. For an extra $10, you'll get the controller add-on bundled with the game, and you'll thank yourself for doing it. And when you've finished playing Tiger, it will be nice to have an extra MotionPlus for Wii Sports Resort and other titles that will use it.
This doesn't mean that the Xbox 360 and PS3 versions of Tiger Woods aren't good, but the lack of motion control makes them feel less authentic, and they don't come with disc golf. The control scheme from previous years returns, with a quick pull back on the left joystick followed by a quick push forward for your swing. Putting uses the same power-bar scheme as the Wii, which is just as frustrating at first.
Online play features daily and weekly tournaments on the three major platforms. And having your system connected to the Internet allows the weather to change based on the conditions of that course in real time. If it's raining at Pebble Beach in reality, it's raining in your game.
All the games include the same courses, golf-game types, and online features. Beyond the Wii controls, the only major difference between the systems is appearance. The Xbox 360/PS3 versions look better when you're taking in the scenery, and the character models look worse on Wii, with its lack of processing power compared to the high-definition systems. The crowds suffer from the same bland appearance regardless of platform.
A lot of Wii titles tack on motion controls that don't add much to the game, but with Tiger Woods, the MotionPlus is natural, essential, and perfectly integrated: It's the golfing experience people have been waiting for, and for that reason the Wii version takes the title. But if you don't shell out for MotionPlus, the Wii version loses a lot of its luster.
No matter what, though, any version will be the fun you expect from a Tiger Woods game.
Tiger Woods PGA Tour 10 is available for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 for $59.95; for Wii bundled with the MotionPlus accessory for $59.95; for Wii with the game only for $49.95; for PlayStation Portable for $39.95; and for PlayStation 2 for $29.95. For this review, the author played several rounds on both the Xbox 360 version and Wii version with MotionPlus.
Luke Hamilton is a buyer, creative designer, and online coordinator for Video Games Etc. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.