I used to play golf. I wasnâ€™t very good at it. Who can find the time these days to traipse up and down nicely manicured grass for half a Sunday? Not me. Maybe Iâ€™m just lazy or not retired enough, because people still enjoy the challenge of hitting small white balls around fake forests. Golf is an international sport that attracts not only badly designed casual wear, but also serious money and serious players.
And Tiger Woods is still golfâ€™s top dog. Indiscretions aside, he is a beast on the course. With a thrusting drive and precision putting, he has painted his name all over the sport and is without a doubt one of its most instantly recognisable celebrities.
So youâ€™d think a golf game with his name on it would be up to scratch. Here at NZGamer.com we have already viewed the EA Gameâ€™s new golfing title through the Playstation lens, and it scored well. But can Tiger still pull it off when on the Wii - the cutesy family console with the waveable wand, which seemed tailor-made for stick and balls?
The first and immediately noticeable difference is that the Wii is the only console that even comes close to replicating the actual golfing experience. If youâ€™re desperate you can try pushing buttons while you fling your Playstation controller over your shoulder, but well, youâ€™ll just look desperate. Itâ€™s only with the Wii version of the title that the simulated golfing experience can be properly realised. But to truly get the most out of the game the humble Wii-mote is not enough; youâ€™re going to need Wii Motion Plus. It ramps up the sensitivity of your computer-generated clubs and with the titleâ€™s new â€˜True Viewâ€™ first person perspective, the Wii provides a ball whacking experience thatâ€™s truly unprecedented in family living rooms.
This added realism is both a blessing and a curse. With the normal Wii-mote I was hitting some pretty solid drives. My putting was glorious and exact. On the back nine alone I could give Tiger a run for his money. But add the Motion Plus, and suddenly my terrible technique and horrible form was exposed for all too see. My five under par turned into eight over, and whole rounds started to resemble cricket scores. My balls were ending up all over the place. Damn you, Wii Motion Plus. Damn you to hell. Youâ€™ve exposed me for the golfing fraud I am.
But on the flipside the added realism ensures that the game is a proper and realistic golfing experience. And after a few hours with the title I came to the realisation that golf is damn hard. Itâ€™s only with the Wii version of the title that this becomes apparent. I had carpet burn on my feet and sore tendons in my forearms from all the tee shots and fairway drives this game put me through. You just wonâ€™t get that experience with the Wiiâ€™s more sedentary peers.
But if my experience just reads like a torturous gauntlet of golfing pain, donâ€™t be put off. As much as it suggests otherwise, Tiger Woods PGA Tour 11 is still a simulated experience. For the beginner, helpful hints abound, and the slightly trippy vector field for the short-game does help to decode any greenâ€™s mystical and confounding slopes and valleys.
But the added control of Wii Motion Plus is not this versionâ€™s only differential factor. Unfortunately the hardware of the Wii just canâ€™t pump out the pixels, and as a consequence the title doesnâ€™t look as good as it does on other boxes. Now some of this criticism is excusable, the Wii has always had this problem â€“ but golf is an intricate and meticulous game. When youâ€™re hitting a white ball into a tiny hole from three hundred and fifty metres away, precision is kinda important. And that means being able to see what youâ€™re doing. There were moments of silent frustration when trying to target drives or shots; you couldnâ€™t quite see where your ball would end up. A definite drawback when youâ€™re attempting an elusive (and game winning) hole in one. But the graphical criticisms can only extend to so far; the novelty factor of actually being able to replicate match winning swings or twenty metre putts is more than enough to obviate any graphical grumbles.
Outside of the golf course there are many other modes on offer. The title is jam packed with goodies; PGA Tour modes, tournaments, the Ryder Cup, even mini golf. Hell, you can even try your throwing arm at Frisbee golf â€“ made all the more kinaesthetic with the use of the Wii-mote.
But even without the party modes, the main eighteen holes are full of replayability. The amount of players and courses is solid and in keeping with the realism theme, they are designed to be exact replicas. Not to mention that if you have an internet connection, the game synchronises with the Wii weather channel and provides your in-game experience with the exact weather for a particular course at any time. Sure, itâ€™s a novelty. But itâ€™s clever, different and interesting.
Tiger Woods PGA Tour 11 wont be for everyone. But if you think youâ€™re a player off the course and donâ€™t mind getting your balls deep in the rough, go grab your Wii-mote and head for the eighteenth. Because Woods on the Wii is one of the most authentic golfing experiences youâ€™re going to get â€“ without writing off your Sundays.