Video Game Review: ‘Tiger Woods PGA Tour 11’ Maintains Handicap

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No votes yet Video Game Rating: 3.5/5.0
Video Game Rating: 3.5/5.0

CHICAGO – Just as every gamer thinks of John Madden when it comes to football, Tiger Woods has long been synonymous with the pinnacle of golf gaming. Electronic Arts hopes that buyers can overlook his drama off the green and continue to think of Tiger Woods every time they want to play a round of golf without an actual 5 iron. The newest edition of “Tiger Woods PGA Tour” franchise wisely doesn’t rock the boat too much, delivering yet another solid sports title that will surely satisfy fans and possibly even bring in a few new ones.

In a move clearly designed to draw a bit of attention away from its star’s personal problems, the most notable change in “Tiger Woods PGA Tour 11” is a new emphasis on teamwork with the addition of Ryder Cup play. Online with friends or on-your-own, you can now create teams of players and challenge for the Cup. It’s one of the very few new additions to a title that otherwise feels nearly identical to last year’s release (with a few control changes). If you’re familiar with last year’s “Tiger Woods” game, you’ll be able to pick up and play the new edition with little effort.

Tiger Woods PGA Tour 11
Tiger Woods PGA Tour 11
Photo credit: EA

Now, some controls have changed. There’s a nifty addition called “True-Aim” which creates more of an over-the-shoulder, on-the-ground dynamic in that you won’t have that neat flying camera to plan your shot or track your ball. There’s also a “Focus” meter that builds with quality play and can be spent to make more accurate or stronger shots. The classic “Tiger Woods” techniques of adding spin after the shot or increasing power on your backswing now “cost something,” which adds an interesting strategy level to the title. The Focus meter hits zero pretty quickly and you’ll have to plan when to use it to your best advantage when you really need to make the shot. The fact is that players have become accustomed to “extras” like adding spin after the ball and it’s a clever idea to now make those elements something to ration out over 18 holes.

As for player development, throughout “Tiger Woods PGA Tour 11” the player earns XP points that can be spent on everything from clothes to attributes. The game rewards players willing to put in some serious time on the greens in that when you start a PGA season from scratch, you simply won’t be very good. You’ll need to grind it out to build up XP to really play with the big boys. The career mode requires patience and development of your golfing alter ego.

Tiger Woods PGA Tour 11
Tiger Woods PGA Tour 11
Photo credit: EA

The game is once again notably deep in online play with live tournaments and features five new courses. What’s always distinguished the “Tiger Woods” titles for me is the depth of gameplay. It’s hard to believe that a golf gaming fan couldn’t find something to like whether its a full PGA season, a Ryder Cup Challenge with friends online, or just casual play on the beautifully rendered courses.

Once again, as I probably would in real life, I find putting the most difficult element of “Tiger Woods PGA Tour 11.” If I had an actual putter, it would have been thrown through my window by now. My only advice is to be patient. Just like last year’s edition, it took this player much longer than I expected to get the hang of how to putt. Improvement definitely comes with practice but it’s still the part of the game that brings me the most heartache.

As for graphics, it’s a lateral move from last year’s title with some gorgeous course design but a few character animations that are a bit flawed. The game is sometimes inconsistent with its presentation, falling just short of sports game perfection. This year’s edition features an even more unpredictable wind that can gust after your shot and really throw off your game — a notch on the “realism” side of the game but it can also be a bit frustrating.

Ultimately, I thought last year’s “Tiger Woods PGA Tour 10” was good-not-great and this year’s edition, while making a few neat gameplay improvements, delivered pretty much the same experience. When you’re this dominant in a gaming world, it’s easy to get complacent and not mess with success. EA deserves credit for trying to tweak their backswing a bit without changing the heart of their game.

‘Tiger Woods PGA Tour 11’ was released by Electronic Arts and developed by EA Tiburon. It is rated E (Everyone). The version reviewed was for the PS3 but the title is also available for the Xbox 360, Wii, PS2, and PSP. It was released on June 8th, 2010. content director Brian Tallerico

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