Athletes only have so many years at the top before they are betrayed by their aging bodies. Fortunately for Tiger Woods, the videogame series named for him is improving even as he is declining. Games like Tiger Woods PGA Tour 10 are so good that they will continue coming out in a future where the only time Tiger picks up a club is to play miniature golf with his grandkids.
Basic Gameplay: The Same But a Little Better
Tour 10’s gameplay follows, for the most part, the basic formula of previous games. An indicator shows where the ball will land if you hit it well and you can choose clubs and swing styles that will knock the ball a certain distance. A wind indicator lets you know whether your ball is likely to be blown off course. Point the remote down and hold down the B button to let the game know you want to take a shot, then swing the Wii remote back and forward. Hit it dead on and the ball will sail straight with as much force as you give it. Angle the club and the ball will have “fade” or “draw,” which by my crude understanding of the sport based on the game’s tutorial means you’re hitting the ball so it arcs around rather than flying straight forward.
Putting has been revised in Tour 10, according to a “what’s new” section in the game. It’s been a while since I played a Tiger game so I don’t recall putting at all, but apparently you used to have multiple putters that would hit the ball various distances, and now you have one all-distance putter you need to swing with just the right amount of force, which certainly makes more sense in the context of the sport the game is modeled after.
The game also claims to have “dynamic weather,” which means the weather on the golf course will be determined by real weather conditions pulled from the internet. Apparently I was playing on golf courses in temperate climes, because the weather always seemed pretty much the same.
MotionPlus: What Puts the Game Over the Top
Tour 10 is most notable for being one of the first games to support Nintendo’s MotionPlus, a Wii add-on that improves the Wii remote’s motion sensitivity.
My first impression was that the MotionPlus didn’t change the game a lot. The most obvious change is a picture-in-picture view of your golf club showing how it is facing, something the game cannot accurately measure without the MotionPlus. I also noticed that with the standard remote the player needs to point the remote straight down for the game to register that it is pointed down, whereas with the MotionPlus you have more leeway.
But when I played a game of golf against myself in multiplayer mode using a MotionPlus controller and a normal one I discovered that the new technology significantly enhances gameplay. The MotionPlus allowed a level of control vastly superior to that of a non-modified remote. This is particularly noticeable in putting, where a gage indicates how far back you’ve pulled your putter. This gage would rise or drop unpredictably with the standard remote, but it would climb smoothly and accurately as you swung a MotionPlus equipped remote.
Sometimes this precision makes the game harder. Without the MotionPlus, most of my drives would sail straight, but I tended to always wind up facing or drawing a little when I used the MotionPlus, because it recognizes more subtle degrees of movement.
The effects of the MotionPlus are even clearer when playing Disc Golf. Disc Golf involves throwing a Frisbee towards a basket, and Tour 10 lets you play this game on its courses. Disc Golf was one of the few highlights of the mini-game collection Big Beach Sports, but Tour 10’s version is much better, allowing more control over where you throw the disc.
You use the remote to pick up the disc with a floating hand. The difference between playing with and without the MotionPlus is striking; without it, your virtual hand moves itself jerkily and jumps to unexpected positions, but with MotionPlus the virtual hand accurately follows your real hand.
Of course one of the main complaints about the MotionPlus is that all it really does is give players the one-to-one motion sensitivity they expected out of the Wii when they bought it, and Tour 10 is proof of that; the MotionPlus isn’t revolutionary, it simply makes the Wii remote work the way it should have always worked. Still, better late than never.
Conclusion: A Lot of Content and Smoother Controls Make this the Tiger to Buy
There are some other entertaining things to do in Tour 10. You can play mini-games against friends like bouncing a golf ball on your club or crashing golf carts into each other. And there are various versions of golf you can play in multiplayer, ranging from a standard game to one in which you gamble virtual money on each hole.
While you play you can listen to color commentary from a couple of announcers. This adds a little ambience, but they definitely should have recorded more dialogue. When I was playing the game against myself I got the ball to the green in two shots with one of my players and one of the two announcers said, “reaching the green in two is truly impressive.” Then I got the other player to do the same thing, and the other announcer said, “reaching the green in two; truly impressive.” I realize that sports game’s color commentary often becomes repetitive after a while, but that seems a bit much.
In spite of a few flaws, Tour 10 is arguably the golf game you always wanted, assuming you’re someone who wanted a golf game to begin with (and assuming you buy the MotionPlus). This is as close to golf as Tiger has gotten on any platform, although since the MotionPlus-equipped remote wouldn’t fit in my Nerf golf club accessory I still wound up swinging one-handed. That’s probably not the best way to play golf, but I hope that’s the way Tiger will play miniature golf against his grandkids; it might give them a fighting chance.