Review: Tiger Woods PGA TOUR 09 (Wii)

Wii Review


"Heck, if I kept holding out every year thinking "when will they will get X,Y,Z right" I'd never own any games! I'm glad I didn't wait again... "

After a solid week of play, N-Europe staff members Mark Lee and George Cook engage in a discussion on all things Tiger Woods '09. Did Tiger Woods finally bring golfing euphoria to the Wii or was it another case of "nearly there" for EA?

Mark says:
Right, welcome to our Tiger Woods '09 discussion and therefore 'review'. Having both played the title extensively we have decided that a two-man approach was needed for such an important title. A title which has promised time and time again yet has slightly missed the mark frequently. So today we thought we would tackle Mr. Woods head on. And we are going to start by discussing and evaluating both the visuals and presentation elements of Tiger Woods '09, after all it's the first thing people are going to notice...

George says:
Especially whist it is still fresh in our minds. [Mark and George have just finished an epic online golfing battle, you see. Think Gandalf duelling the Balrog in Fellowship of the Ring... but with golf clubs. It's in the unseen director's cut – Ed]
Let me get straight to the point Mark, I actually feel that the visuals are extremely hit or miss. For instance, there are some great grass textures, and some of the character models are very nice, boasting great attention to detail and variety. Yet somewhat unfortunately, due to both choice of colour and art style, (Tiger Woods being the perfect example) many elements end up looking like "cartoon" versions of reality.

Mark says:
I wholly agree. Tiger looks like a plasticine character at times and the colours seem to go from either being too dark to too light. Don't get me wrong, I understand the need for variety and there's definitely a varying colour palette going on. It just seems that the in-game contrasts are slightly skewed thus reinforcing that "cartoon" feel. TV tinkering doesn't alter anything neither. A shame as you expect EA titles to always border on photo-realism.


Mr Tiger Woods: The greatest videogame golf villain of all time! We call him 'Birdie' here. At times he does nothing but!

George says:
There are also no spectators which is very odd indeed. I would have been happy with the poorly animated blobs seen in earlier versions but here there is nothing! Were they abducted by aliens? No wait, that can't be right as you can still hear them! They must be either masters of camouflage or are invisible!

Mark says:
Yeah, that is certainly a strange omission this year. The clapping "blobs" are even apparent in the 360/PS3 versions. It's like they decided that Wii Sports Golf was the template to go by.

George says:
So overall, the graphics (despite being on occasion hit or miss) serve their purpose well and actually there's nothing graphically that ruins the game. I've seen better but I've also seen a lot worse.

Mark says:
I agree. I still can't forget how bad '07 looked though and when placed next to that version; Tiger Woods hasn't come as far as he should have. It's like EA want the game to look simple. No spectators and simple colour schemes totally give off that Wii Sports golf vibe I mentioned, which actually brings me to my next point about the game: The presentation.

Both the presentation and visuals (especially when placed next to the previous editions' blurathons) are finally befitting of Wii this year. Not only do the IR inspired menus work as well as expected, the graphics also have a crisper edge to them not seen in any previous Nintendo-centric Tiger Woods outing.

It's the little things that work with the Wii edition (rather than against it) which makes TW '09 vastly superior to previous editions. Excellent and sometimes quirky speaker implementation, rumble over menu icons and smart, large icon layout built for Wii indicates that the presentation and value of the title as a whole was something EA must have really focused on. Yet even now I'm not really too fussed about the graphics. And this is purely because I'm too busy enjoying the controls. The controls blow everything else out of the water!

George says:
Again you've nailed it, all the little things add up to a very nice overall package with plenty of options. The presentation suits the title perfectly and the in-game movies, IR functionality and menu designs are all perfect for Wii. And yes, the controls are brilliant and this is definitely where Wii has a massive advantage over other versions of the game.

Mark says:
And people have expected this "control leap" from the get-go. And to be honest, it never really came as expected. Yet where do we start when talking about the '09 controls? Can we mention 1:1? Should we? Should we really get people's hopes up for them only to think "not until MotionPlus!" Or, "last year they promised this...."
Finally, in my opinion this is where EA have delivered.

George says:
That's a good point (about the Wii version 'needing' solid controls) and I deliberately did not go for previous editions of the games as the controls (as well as presentation and options) seemed to be lacking. When I heard this game would not have motion plus in it I did initially think about waiting yet again. However after hearing of very positive reviews I decided to get the game I've waited long enough for. Heck, if I kept holding out every year thinking "when will they will get X,Y,Z right" I'd never own any games! I'm glad I didn't wait again though as the controls are superb. They definitely give a 1:1 feel and are extremely intuitive and perhaps more importantly, they are responsive.

Mark says:
Responsive motion controls which work and are both natural and challenging is something Wii owners have hankered for since Wii Sports set the bar for "what motion can do". Sure putting is difficult. Sure there are moments where you think "I'm sure I was robbed there". But if anything it's through your own mistakes in which these gameplay moments happen. It's through your own choices and through your own shortcomings that you fail. Fail to read the greens and you're NOT going to be the world's greatest golfer. Fail this and you fail the game. The controls? What controls? We're playing virtual golf here. We forgot we had a plastic device in our hands. It's that good.

George says:
Yeah, golf is all about the individual and the fine line of risk and reward. Your choices make the game what it is. And with that I feel I must mention at this moment that I'm glad I didn't read too many reviews of Tiger Woods '09 as many reputable publications have slated the game for having broken putting controls. Have they played the game? The putting has been executed superbly.

Mark says:
I agree, read the beads on the green (just like previous iterations) and select the correct putter (by metres of course) and you're guaranteed to be within a chance of sinking your putts.

George says:
Yes it's that simple. Yet people forget that putting is difficult in real life (and is a whole different game really) and if this game was broken then please explain to me how during an online 9 hole match, my opponent was under par on all 9 holes! I'm sure reviewers expect it to be an 'arcade' experience.


Read the Beads people! Note: This doesn't apply outside of videogames! [Unless you're religious? - Ed)

Mark says:
Yes, I can see what you mean as Tiger Woods titles have always given off an arcade vibe and I'm sure people are expecting it to continue to do so - even on Wii. Yet by the very nature of the user imitating the golfing experience with physical movement, it subtly brings you around to a more relaxing, sedate, concentrated (and therefore realistic) golf game; one which is a thousand times better than any previous button-based golf title.

There are certainly some great, great players online which, as you said, wholly sticks two fingers up at the "broken" mechanics being brandished about by those who have simply rushed through the title. And speaking of rushing through, even the simpler party mode games are great! As we've already hinted at, online is brilliant and already boasts a sterling community of budding Tigers, but offline you're looking at some of the finest mini games a golf game has ever had.

EA really went to town on the Wii version. Oh and rather than talk about online gaming in depth, can I just say that 'it works?' And if, like me, you hungered for an online golf game (or an online title which is fleshed out with text chat, buddy lists that are sensible and boast perfect connections,) this is up there with Wii's greatest.

And so we've talked about control mechanics which really hit the Holy Grail that is 1:1. The extensive party modes, brilliant online modes and vastly improved albeit still slightly lacklustre graphics. Yet what about the single player mode? There's a whole valley of options within that alone!

I was under the impression we would see far less for the lone golfer and that EA had spent so much time getting the controls right and nailing the multiplayer/party aspects that it was going to be a let down. I was wrong, and how!

George says:
Yes, as you said, the package on a whole is fabulous, and incredibly the online modes work really well. (Rather than watching your opponent take every shot, you and 4 opponents all play at the same time and you view your opponents shots in real-time as coloured arrows showing the arc and path of each shot.) But the single player mode is as fleshed out as previous iterations, which is great!

Mark says:
TW hasn't really changed much over the years, there are countless new "features" added every year (this year Hank Haney wants to coach newbies) yet the PGA tour and career modes remain a timeless staple of the franchise. And they work well here. We see character creation return (better than ever), and the shop returns too. The single player mode also boasts 5 new courses over previous iterations and the challenge is greater than previous TW titles. In fact, the AI still rubber bands and the computer pulls off some incredible shots. But it only serves as a means to drive you onwards. It makes you a better player.

And that means that everything just 'works'. And by that measure, Tiger Woods '09 is certainly the best golf game on Wii and becomes one of the best golf games I've ever played.

George says:
And I second that notion, in fact I think we're agreed that anyone sitting on the fence about this game should get off that fence right now and buy it. We whole-heartedly recommend it!

N-Europe Final Verdict

Whether you're clubbing together playing online, feeling true-to-life golf motions or getting lost in the inviting single and multiplayer modes, Tiger Woods '09 on Wii is the golf game to experience. One of the best golfing experiences you could ever have

  • Gameplay5
  • Playability5
  • Visuals3
  • Audio4
  • Lifespan5
Final Score

8

Pros

Slick responsive controls
Impressive online components
Gargantuan amount of content/features

Cons

Where's the spectators?
Character creations all have Mr Woods' eyes
Graphically could be a bit better
... Uh, thats about it.


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