Tiger Woods Hits the Sweet Spot on the Wii

Geek Culture

tiger_woods_swingtiger_woods_swingAfter various niggles and oddities with last year’s game I was excited to be able to sit down with Reza Elghazi yesterday (Producer for both Wii and 360/PS3 Tiger Woods games) and talk about next years version.

The great discussion we’d been having here about the merits of Tiger 09 on Wii have been reflected in their focus groups and feedback. Elghazi was very clear “we’ve listened to the feedback about putting”. This year green-work benefits not only from a return of the true swing mechanic from Tiger 08 but also the use of the MotionPlus add-on to the Wii mote for more accurate gesture detection.

The fairway shots also benefit from this extra fidelity. Plugging the MotionPlus block into the bottom of the Wii-mote adds true gyroscopic orientation detection in addition to its pointing and acceleration sensors. The short story is that they can now map player movement in one-to-one fashion.

The game takes a step forward in other departments too. Visually, the Wii version is closer to the 360/PS3 versions – without ever really threatening to undermine their advantage. You can now see the crowd on the course, as well as overhear their cheers from other holes in addition to your own.

The icing on the cake is the inclusion of Disc Golf. Here you use the Wii-mote to throw a Frisbee around a course. It works surprisingly well. Add MotionPlus into the mix and the throw mechanic is surprisingly nuanced.

Having spent a good hour on the game I thought it was high time I wrote up my parent’s guide for you. Longer play will reveal the real depth and robustness of the game, but on this initial play I can’t wait till it’s out in July when we’ll have an in depth review once we’ve played through the game in full.

51lifwqdkl_sl500_aa280_51lifwqdkl_sl500_aa280_What Sort of Game is This?

Sports games recreate a wide variety of real life competitive games. Depending on the sport, these will either have an action or strategy focus. Popular sports games are often released on an annual basis, each year the game receives new player rosters and game improvements.

What Does This Game Add to the Genre?

Tiger Woods 10 on Wii brings a clutch of improvements to the table. MotionPlus is the most novel and now allows the game to take account of a one-to-one backwards and forwards stroke to calculate the resulting swing. It also perfectly captures the rotation of the controller which means fade and draw can now be consistently applied.

The game can be played without the MotionPlus add-on and some may opt for this cheaper option. The controls are still generally improved even without the new gizmo, but there is no denying that the full experience required the latest money making scheme from Nintendo.

Other additions have been included to add atmosphere, such as the visible crowd and improved visuals. Then there are new modes that broaden the experience for those after something a little more light hearted – Frisbee golf is in mind here.

There is a real sense that the team’s ongoing attention to feedback is finally paying off. Something you can track through the various incarnation on the Wii in my Tiger Woods gamepeople article. Here’s the headline improvements for Tiger Woods 10:

  • Driving: Both follow through and backstroke can now be used to control how hard to hit the ball. Stabbed and pulled strokes can be used to caress the ball into position. Fade and draw are also perfectly detected by the MotionPlus plug in enhancement to the Wii-mote as shown in the real time graphical readout.
  • Putting: Putting from Tiger 08 returns although now with accurate reading of pull back and follow through to result in the pace of the ball. For the first time the player is equipped with just one strength putter, something that simplifies calculating distances. The MotionPlus also enables the ability to push or pull the ball using the rotation of the club to counteract fade or draw of the green.
  • Chipping: As with the fairway shots, chipping also takes advantage of an accurate reading of back swing and follow through, making lower power shots a consistent option.
  • General: Added atmosphere comes from being able to see spectators rather than just hear them. Also the simulation of other golfers in tournaments means that you can overhear cheers resulting from their birdies on neighboring holes. The inclusion of 27 courses in the Wii game also compares favorably to the 16 out the box for the PS3/360 version.

What does it feel like to play?

A session on Tiger Woods leaves you with a real sense of having just played a genuine sport. Controlling the whole game with just gestures creates an experience that is as unusual as it is enjoyable in video games. The new level of control simply adds to this feeling of connection.

A round of Tiger Woods is as much about the psychology, strategy and odds of real golf as it is about swinging the controller. The long game soon comes to the fore as the quibbles and difficulties of controls melt away leaving the player to face the wide expanse of (carefully landscaped) natural courses alone.
How Much Free Time is Required to Play It?

As in real life a full round of golf with a few friend can take the best part of three or four hours. You can of course play a front or back nine, but this game is best served by longer sessions. The career mode lets you save midway through a round which helps those who want to jump in and out at opportune moments.

What Factors Impact on Suitability for Novice/Expert Young/Old Players?

Less is made of the anyone can play aspect of the game this year, although the All Play controls are still present. Unlike some of the other sports titles, these seem to suite the novice rather than younger player. Perhaps because of the sport in question here, a little more patience is required to get to grips with even the simplified All Play swing. Whilst previously the slightly fuzzy controls favored intermediate players, the more nuanced and finely honed experience of Tiger Woods 10 driving and putting opens the door to those who really want to invest in the sport.

Intermediates can still have a lot of fun, but it is experts who will most appreciate the improvements this year. Time will tell how consistent and transparent the mechanic is with prolonged play but on first impressions it seems far in advance of last year’s opaque experience (to put it politely).

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