[Guest post by: Family Gamer]
Since the success of Wii-Sports Golf The Wii-mote motion controller has always seemed a perfect match for golf. Since then a number of games have tried to work a golfing control mechanic around it. We Love Golf stuck to their trigger three stage swing, whilst Super Swing Golf aimed to provide a one-to-one motion experience. Tiger Woods 09 combines the realism of Super Swing’s controls with its rich resource of courses, players and shot types to provide an experience that feels the closest to real life.
What Sort of Game is This?
Sports games recreate a wide variety of real life competitive games. Depending on the sport, these will either have an action or strategy focus. Popular sports games are often released on an annual basis, each year the game receives new player rosters and game improvements.
What Does This Game Add to the Genre?
Tiger Woods 09 enables the player to control the hitting of the golf ball by simply swinging the Wii-mote as they would a golf club. The game reads their back-swing, club angle through the shot and follow through, to calculate the resulting hit. Although this pushes the Wii-Mote’s sensors to its limits, it is largely successful at letting a round of golf to be played with nothing more than these motions.
The limitations of the Wii-mote technology, and the wide variety in players real world golf swings, the game often comes in for criticism. To counter this the series has developed different approaches and refinements over its three iterations. Some of these suite some people better than others, accordingly players often have their favourite version of the game:
Tiger Woods 07:
* Driving: The best aspect of this iteration being the first full golf game to enable control of draw and fade by the motion of the swing. The game did suffer from phantom swings where a shot was triggered without the player’s intention, turning off vibration was supposed to help this issue for some, whilst other simply turned on mulligans to enable them to retake the shot.
* Irons: Consistency of Iron strength is often questioned which probably relates to the difficulty found when trying to hit a lower powered fairway shot. Unlike later versions the swing has to be one action, which makes achieving a short back-swing particularly difficult.
* Putting: Twitchy putting is often hard to trigger with the forward stroke, a problem shared with Wii-Sports Golf.
Tiger Woods 08:
* Driving: Solid and more consistent than previously, although some players find they always hit a draw or fade shot.
* Irons: Often found to be lacking in distance here and overly effected by wind.
* Chipping: Strength is notoriously hard to gauge accurately, so much so that many players aim to avoid the chipping game altogether.
* Putting: Full simulation of putting swing, pull back and follow through combine to result in the pace of the ball.
* General: Prolonged play can uncover the odd bug, such as sinking an eagle putt from the fringe result in an out of bounds, or adjustments during chipping resulting in the lie to jump back to 100%. The game offered a novel sit-down swing mode that enabled players to sit down and play the game.
Tiger Woods 09:
* Driving: Refined to enable you to adjust the vertical trajectory of the ball. A club tuning feature enables you refine your hitting style and has the option for the game to correct the draw or fade resulting from the players swing.
* Putting: Simplified to be a triggered action rather than a full swing simulation. Pace is set by pulling back the club then triggered by forward motion. You can also now set how much you roll the putter over the face of the ball upon striking.
* Chipping: Is roundly improved with a more controllable backswing that enables players to better estimate the power of shots. Players can take their time adjusting the point at which they want to start the forward swings.
* General: Prolonged play reveals that putting sometimes delivers unaccountably less power than is suggested by the slope and strength of the shot.Graphically this is the best looking Wii version of the game. There is an excellent training mode that takes you back to scenarios where shots were previously dropped and enables you to practice a correct shot.
What do People Play this Game To Experience?
Players are undoubtedly attracted to the Wii version of Tiger Woods because of the masterly swing mechanic. They are more than happy to put up with the occasional odd outcome for the sheer sense of connection between controller and game. Many who play the game even prefer it to the better looking and (some would say) more controllable versions of the game on 360 and PS3.
How Much Free Time is Required to Play It?
As in real life a full round of golf with a few friend can take the best part of three or four hours. You can of course play a front or back nine, but this game is best served by longer sessions. The career mode lets you save midway through a round which helps those who want to jump in and out at opportune moments.
What Factors Impact on Suitability for Novice/Expert Young/Old Players?
This being an All Play title, I had expected my younger off spring to be catered for. Whilst my five year old daughter soon got to grips with the simplified All Play swing, the younger kids had to just watch. The sit-down swing option from 08 that was so loved by my wife also seemed to be missing as All Play controls still require you to point the controller down before swinging it seems Tiger Woods 09 is a standing up pursuit. Intermediate players are probably the best served here. Not only is the fabulous swing mechanic easy to pick up it also a lot of fun.
Experts will either rise to the challenge of the sometimes cruel putting, or be put off by it’s occasional inconsistencies. Those that do last the distance will be rewarded by what is arguably one of the best golfing experience on a video games console. Certainly for me there is literally no attraction to play a golf game without a real world one-to-one swing.
With the MotionPlus Wii-mote add-on coming out next year, I expect that we will see a significant improvement in both fidelity and consistency of controls in Tiger Woods 10. One can’t help but wonder if this year’s version has suffered a little from attention spent on the new peripheral.