Tiger Woods PGA Tour 10 - first look

What reason could EA have to move the latest version of Tiger Woods from its typical August release all the way up to June 16th? The U.S. Open, of course! “But the U.S. Open isn’t in the game,” you say. That’s where you’re wrong. Tiger Woods PGA Tour 10 now has the U.S. Open license, in addition to this year’s Open course: Bethpage Black.

Above: Next-gen screen

The addition of one specific course and a tournament license might not seem like much at first, but EA is focused on making this major feel, well, major. New dynamic camera shots and dramatic music get the event started in style. The Wii version features crowds for the first time, while the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 have seen their galleries triple in size. No pressure there! You’ll face punishing and ridiculously deep rough, and should you be lucky enough to wind up on the green at some point, you’ll be putting on grass that’s akin to putting on concrete.

A few other tweaks ensure that you feel all of the pressure that held Phil Mickelson back so many years. When another golfer makes a great shot you’ll hear the roar of the distant crowd and then you’ll be greeted with a real-time scoring update across the top of the screen telling you just what happened. While you might be able to put that out of your mind, it’s significantly more difficult to ignore the giant scoreboard on the edge of the green prominently displaying the fact that you’re two strokes down with three holes left to play. When you combine all of these factors, there’s no doubt that the U.S. Open won’t feel like just another tournament.

Above: Next-gen screen

The challenge of winning a major might bring you to tears, but at least the weather’s perfect. Oh wait, it’s not. Tiger Woods 10 actually pulls real-time weather updates from the Wii's Forecast Channel. If it’s hot outside you’ll have to deal with sun-baked greens; if it rains, the grass will be soggy and slow. Perhaps your round will start off with a nice mid-summer storm that ends by the time you’ve reached the third hole. Then imagine that just as you’ve gotten used to the greens, the sun, now out in force, dries them off, totally changing the way you approach each putt. Hey, you’re the one who gripes about being able to shoot a 58 with your eyes closed every year.

Bethpage Black isn’t the only addition to this year’s Tiger. On the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 you no longer have putters that work for specific distances. Instead, you move the target marker to the desired distance and then pull the analog stick back until it’s in the highlighted zone. The Wii version has even greater control changes thanks to the optional use of Wii Motion Plus. With it, the motion-sensing capability is improved dramatically, allowing the game to detect even the slightest of movements, making for a more responsive and realistic experience. It may take a few strokes to get used to, but anyone hoping for a more a more accurate representation of the sport should be pleased.

Above: Screen from the Wii version

EA is tight-lipped on the remaining details, but with the game’s June release quickly approaching, it shouldn’t be long before the curtain is lifted on the rest of Tiger Woods PGA Tour 10’s new features.

Mar 13, 2009