Tiger Woods PGA Tour 11 is a great sports game because it doesn't rely on end-to-end thrills or headless chicken excitement to snag you. Concentration is what it milks from you, measured by the little sweat beads that drop from your forehead to your feet.
Simply everything in the game has been updated, improved, refined and expanded, so everything that you succeed and fail at feels that much sharper.
Putting was always a problem on Wii as inconsistency with motion register meant you were never quite sure whether your putt would do as you told it.
However, with the new Tour Pro Swing requiring you to dust off your Wii MotionPlus so that your 'swing plane' can be detected, putting is detected much more accurately. So the little tickle into the bucket is just that while longer putts that must roll over an uneven green can be aimed by rolling the Remote ever so slightly. A putt can still go wrong, but the sense of trepidation when you approach the green is greatly reduced.
Up for the cup
Also new this year is the Ryder Cup mode. This in itself is extremely good news. If this were a FIFA game, we'd probably be talking about a standalone spin-off costing another 30 quid. Set in the Celtic Manor Resort in South Wales, you can play a cut price three round version, or the full five round shebang.
Essentially it's just a repackaging of the other modes in the game (fourballs, matchplay, etc) but with fancy sweaters and a morale meter that lets you gauge your opponents' state of mind. You play with up to three mates or AI-controlled opponents two-on-two, and while it looks the part, it somehow lacks the atmosphere that you'd expect. Crowds and partisan commentary would have helped.
In The Swings
Other improvements include Wii MotionPlus being stretched to another swing mode, Advanced Plus, which lets you add masses of draw and fade while the Swing Tracker keeps a record of your swing technique so you can see how it develops. When EA Sports boasts of Tiger 11 offering the most 'realistic golf experience to date', it wasn't all talk.
More proof comes from the online options. As well as the real time weather which breaks out all over the course if you're logged in to the EA Sports hivemind (even if you're playing offline), Tee Shot Live lets the real golfers among you input your real life attributes (average drive distance, handicap, physical stats, etc) and transfer those to your in-game self. Perhaps best of all is the Play The Pros mode, where you can try your luck at tournaments as they happen in real time, with the scores of the Pros taking part posted for you to aim for.
Tiger 11 gets the balance between a full-on sports sim and playful swingabout spot on. Disc Golf gets an online mode and there's also a new mini golf mode which adds a selection of wacky putting courses for you to navigate. This is great fun in multi-player mode.
If all these extras were bolted onto a mediocre game, they'd be chaff. But there's a fine golf game underneath it all. It's also probably the best sports game you'll play this year.
This is an edited version of a review from the July issue of Official Nintendo Magazine. For more in-depth analysis, screenshots and boxouts, buy the magazine here!