Where one EA Sports game released last month(Grand Slam Tennis) evokes hazy notions of summery evenings spent being sworn at by stressed out tennis players, another, Tiger Woods PGA Tour 10, is happy to let the heavens dump their load on us as they see fit. Real time weather effects are one of the key new features of this latest Tiger, but while teeing off in whipping winds or lashing rain is rather cool, that is by no means the main hook. That comes from Wii MotionPlus, the new control scheme which maps your control input almost exactly 1:1 and creates the most realistic golf swing yet seen in a Tiger game.
Yes, you may be thinking that the club goes up and then back down - what is there to improve? And you're right. If you were to hide the person playing any Tiger game and concentrate on the action on-screen, you'd be hard-pushed to tell the difference between successive editions. However there's a big giveaway with Tiger 10, and that's the stuttering swing of the new player. Wii MotionPlus's input is such that it highlights every flaw in your approach to golf. As with Grand Slam Tennis, early forays into this brave, brutally honest new world of control are painful affairs at first.
If you've ever entertained the notion of being decent at golf, be prepared to have your bubble punctured. Wii MotionPlus is so sensitive that every minor hesitation shows up in your swing, cutting your power and leaving you some way short of the fairway.
The big draw of Wii MotionPlus is literally big draw (and fade). Rolling your wrists as you push through your swing on contact with the ball adds spin and swerve to your shot, allowing you to better negotiate tricky courses. Trees, water hazards and bunkers can be better avoided if you get the skill just right, so you can approach the differing challenges offered by each hole in a subtly new way each time. Plus there's a simple satisfaction to be had from seeing your shot curl around a clump of trees half a mile in the distance.
It's a confidence thing. You need to make sure you're totally comfortable with your swing before attempting tricky courses and tournaments. Take Bethpage Black, the home of this year's US Open. The tournament is by its very nature one of the hardest of the year, and this year's is no different. A course full of traps for the unwary, its numerous bunkers will snaffle up even slightly misjudged shots. The prospect of playing it is daunting enough, so you need to have a slickly-oiled swing in perfect working order. Luckily that's the beauty of the game - despite early setbacks you'll want to hone and refine your game, because even the smallest improvement yields exciting results. The dangling carrot of Seve Ballesteros-levels of golfing genius spurs on your donkey-like golfer.
Unfortunately putting is still too random in feel. Far too often we practised our putting (by holding A and B at the same time - B on its own swings your club for real), matching the suggested power level almost exactly, only to attempt the real thing and see the ball rocket ten feet past the hole. We tried at different distances from the sensor bar to see if that affected it, but to no avail. It's not a constant menace. For the most part putting works as smoothly as driving and chipping but there's the odd instance where you'll have played an absolute blinder to get to the pin in two shots, only to fluff your birdie chance and end up dropping two. When it comes to multiplayer, one of the highlights is the Play The Pros mode, in which you enter a real-time tournament and see your efforts compared with real-life players.There's about a 15 minute lag between playing a shot and seeing it posted online, and all of the assists are barred so you're competing 'equally'. Good, solid stuff.
If only the putting was more consistent. If it were, this would be as essential as Grand Slam Tennis. Having said that, it's still a fine effort, and Wii MotionPlus means the Wii version is the best game of Tiger around.