Publisher: Electronic Arts
Developer: EA Tiburon
Release date: Available now
At this year’s E3 conference, Microsoft garnered lots of press with the unveiling of Project Natal, a motion-sensing device seemingly ripped from the film “Minority Report” but owing just as much inspiration to the Nintendo Wii. At the same conference, Sony displayed its own unnamed version of the Wiimote and its waggling wizardry. The message was clear: while Microsoft and Sony offer powerhouse, pixel-bursting consoles, they clearly lag behind Nintendo’s lower-powered Wii, which thus far outsold the competition on the strength of its innovative control scheme. Despite that success, core Wii owners would counter that the Wii has yet to fully reach the potential promised when the system first debuted in 2006, a fact that Nintendo has sought to remedy through the introduction of Wii Motion Plus, an enhancement designed to produce true one-to-one motion control. While we won’t know how well Nintendo has implemented the device until Wii Sports Resort reviews start appearing, Electronic Arts has jumped to the forefront, embedding the technology into this year’s installment of its venerable Tiger Woods golf franchise, Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2010.
Tiger 2010 is the series’ third release for the Wii and is arguably the most complete package yet. By now, most players have come to know what to expect with EA Sports offerings, and this latest entry in the Tiger Woods series is no different, offering a full complement of single-player career modes and a robust multiplayer suite. Solo players can use the detailed character-creation toolset to customize an avatar that can then be used to progress through the tourneys of the PGA Tour. Stellar play (holes-in-one, consecutive birdies, etc.) yields experience, money and achievements that can then be used to bolster your character’s abilities as well as unlock merchandise in the EA Pro Shop to further customize his or her appearance and equipment.
Tiger 2010 also features an online multiplayer mode that continues EA’s dedication to supporting Nintendo’s sparse net-based offerings, including hosting matches through the EA network of servers, circumventing Nintendo’s cumbersome Friend Code system. Connecting with friends for an online match or a tourney is as simple as logging into the EA Online service from the main menu. The game also includes a number of arcade-style party games, first introduced in the 2009 edition.
EA perfected its brand of video-game golf years ago, with each subsequent installment focusing on adding gameplay options. These provide Tiger 2010 with almost infinite replay value. The solo career mode is an addictive time sink that compels you to push forward in the tournaments, with the tantalizing carrot of additional experience points giving you an incentive to improve your skills. The online multiplayer is well implemented; it’s encouraging to see third-party developers such as EA put such effort into supporting the experience. The only thing missing from the package is voice chat support via the Wii Speak peripheral. Maybe one day we’ll get a dedicated communication strategy for the Wii. Until that day, online encounters remain impersonal affairs.
While the Wii version of Tiger 2010 lags behind its cousins released concurrently on the Xbox 360 and the PS3 in terms of visuals, it matches them in features and surpasses them in its control scheme, which makes this version the game to buy if you own multiple consoles. The hype generated by Wii Motion Plus is justified, but only for certain types of games, and Tiger 2010 is one of them. EA’s deft, intelligent application of the Wii Motion Plus technology forces you to pay close attention to every hand motion you make. Although classic control options are available, using the Wii Motion Plus makes it worth being coaxed off the couch and pulled farther into a game than you’ve ever been before. While the difference can be felt in the long game, putting requires subtle control that, when mastered, really becomes intuitive as you begin to improve your skills. This leads to a tremendous risk-reward feeling, with a great sense of accomplishment earned when you start sinking some of those daunting 50-foot uphill putts.
EA gets knocked around quite a bit by fanboys who bristle at its imposing corporate clout, but the company deserves credit for working to create new game experiences for the Wii. EA has followed up its ultimate party game Boom Blox: Bash Party with Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2010, a fantastic golf game that, through its various gameplay modes, a compelling online component and pitch-perfect application of Wii Motion Plus tech, has emerged as the best console golf game to date. EA deserves the golf clap for this one.