Editor’s Note: As some of you know, I’m on staff as a game reviewer for the electronic entertainment site, Avault.com. I intend to publish all of my reviews on these pages to insure I have a full record of everything I’ve written. If you haven’t read this before, enjoy!!!
At this year’s E3 Conference, Microsoft garnered a lot of press with the unveiling of Project NATAL, a motion sensing utility seemingly ripped from Minority Report but owing just as much inspiration to the Nintendo Wii. At the same conference, Sony displayed their own version of the Wiimote, with their own thus far no-name brand of waggle wizardry.
The message was clear – while the two behemoths offer up powerhouse pixel-bursting consoles, they clearly lag behind the lower-powered Wii which thus far has the won the day on the strength of their 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 3 years ago – 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 debuts in late July, EA has jumped to the forefront, embedding the technology in this year’s installment of their venerable golf franchise, Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2010.
Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2010 is the third release for the Nintendo Wii and arguably the most complete package yet. By now, most players know what to expect with EA Sports offerings and this latest version of Tiger is no different – with a full complement of single player career modes and a robust multiplayer suite offered. Solo players can use the detailed Create-A-Player toolset to craft an avatar which can then be used to progress through the stable of tourneys dotting the 2009 PGA Tour. Experience, money and achievements are awarded for stellar play (sink a hole-in-one, consecutive birdies on holes, etc) which can then be used to bolster your character’s abilities as well as unlock merchandise in the EA Pro Shop to further customize your character’s appearance and equipment.
Tiger 2010 also features a robust online multiplayer mode which continues EA’s dedication to supporting Nintendo’s sparse online offerings, including hosting matches through the EA network of servers which circumvents Nintendo’s cumbersome Friend Code system. Connecting with friends for an online match or tourney is as simple as logging into the EA Online Service from the main menu and then locating their stored EA ID. The game also includes a number of arcade style party games, first introduced in last year’s edition, for those local multiplayer matches.
You could fill an entire review with the features inherent to this title. EA perfected their brand of video game golf years ago, meaning each subsequent installment has focused on building out the game play options, with the 2010 version providing a title of almost infinite value. The solo career mode is an addictive time synch that compels players to push forward in their career with that tantalizing carrot of additional experience points leading the way to a better player.
The online multiplayer is well-implemented and on a system where most first party titles barely rate mention in this arena, it’s encouraging to see third party developers like EA take such effort into building out the experience. The only thing missing from the package is voice chat support via the Wii Speak peripheral, which as I mentioned in my review of last month’s The Conduit, says more about the console developer than the game maker. Maybe one day we’ll get a dedicated communication strategy for this system. Until that day, online bouts remain impersonal affairs.
While the Wii build lags behind its kissing cousins released concurrently on the 360 and the PS3 in terms of visuals, it matches them in features and surpasses them in its control scheme which makes this build the game to get. The hype on Wii Motion Plus is worth it, or at least as this title makes abundantly evident, there are certain game types that make for a better marriage with the peripheral. EA’s deft, intelligent application of the WiiMotion Plus technology makes this the greatest game of console video golf ever played as players will find they have to adjust for every hand motion they make.
Although Classic Control options are available, players who use the Wii-specific Motion Plus mode will find it’s worth being coaxed off the couch to be pulled further into a game than they had before. While the difference can be felt on the long game, the putting game requires subtle control which when mastered really becomes intuitive as players begin to gauge some impossible shots and actually begin to get better as they work at it. 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.
As a company, EA gets knocked around quite a bit by fanboys in the industry who bristle at their imposing corporate clout, but they deserve real clout for taking some of their resources and really working to bring forth new game experiences from the Wii. Earlier this month, I reviewed another EA release, Boom Blox: Bash Party which currently exists as the definitive party game offering on the system. A month later, EA has done it again with Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2010, a fantastic golf game that through its mammoth selection of game play, a compelling online mode and absolutely pitch-perfect application of the new WiiMotion plus technology, makes this the best console golf game to date. EA deserves the golf clap for this one.