Some things – like the economy – get worse; others – like your ‘lady’ prowess – can only get better; but some things can’t manage the distinction of either. Some things – like the Tiger Woods PGA Tour titles – just stay exactly the same.
Not in the history of EA Sports has the gulf between two annual revisions of a series been so small. Tiger 10 has an online tournament, a historical challenge mode, practice mode, bigger crowds, the US Open license, with – ooh – real USGA rules and etiquette, a new course, real-time weather, and only one substantial change to the golf itself – a new putting mechanic, undeniably superior to the old system.
Another year, another gutless update to a game which peaked back in 2007. It deserves better. Tiger’s increasingly creaky engine is the most outdated piece of technology used by EA Sports, barely approximating the beauty of real golf. While the likes of FIFA and Madden increasingly push towards photorealism, Tiger sports hideous jagged polygons, barely textured surfaces, low-res jpeg skies, inanimate trees, and a world given life only by crowds who burst into identical animation sequences as one.
Tiger ’08 was great; Tiger ’09 and Tiger 10 are even better, but by such small degrees it takes an eagle eye to notice. Every addition has been conjured up in an atmosphere of creative bankruptcy; each new feature a box ticked on a wishlist no gamer ever wrote. Tiger Woods’ big secret isn’t such a secret for old time golf gamers. Every worthwhile addition to the 2009 and 2010-monikered offerings are ideas cribbed from Links 2004, still the smarter golf sim and only marginally less attractive than the latest Tiger Woods title running at the same resolution. The new putting system worked better when Links did it back in 2003; the simultaneous four-player online mode worked just fine in previous versions. Modern Tiger Woods is among the most sophisticated online games ever made but like everything else, EA nailed Tiger’s Live play back in 2007 and have been only tweaking ever since.
And yet Tiger ’08 was such a high point even two years of spinelessness can’t keep Tiger ’10 from being the best golf game ever, for what it’s worth. Congratulations, Tiger. In a market without competition, you win again. By far the most wonderful thing about Tiger is he’s the only one! Heeeeeeee’s the only one.
Jun 9, 2009
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