The lights are on
What new ideas the game brings to the table and how well old ideas are presented.
How good a game looks, taking into account any flaws such as bad collision or pop-up.
Does the game’s music and sound effects get you involved or do they make you resolve to always play with the volume down?
Basically, the controller to human interface. The less you think about the hunk of plastic in your hands, the better the playability.
Flat out, just how fun the game is to play. The most important factor in rating a game.
Some gamers have gotten so used to the way that the Tiger Woods
franchise plays that they’ve been gaming the system and taking advantage
of exploits. This year developer EA Tiburon is trying to address some
of that – which doesn’t sound like an exciting focus for the new title,
but the beauty of the changes taking place is that they benefit players
of all stripes.
I’ve always been a fan of Tiger’s old
single-player career progression: Completing challenges, drills, and
tourneys gave you stat boosts in specific areas depending on how well
you did. I liked it because it felt like there was a lot of content, and
I knew where to go if I needed to get more distance on my tee shots,
for instance. Now, the handcuffs are off. Everything you do in Tiger 11
gives you XP points that you can spend however you want – including on
the normal selection of stat-boosting clothes. Using this open-ended
points system, you could conceivably concentrate every XP point you have
and channel it into your Power attribute right away, and you wouldn’t
have to grind to quite the same degree as before to do it. Although last
year’s drills are gone, with the inclusion of the Ryder Cup and the
return of the standard pro-based skill challenges, it’s not like there
isn’t enough to do. If anything, you can get on to playing PGA events a
little sooner, which is nice.
The game also introduces some slight
unpredictability in your shots via real-time wind that can rise up or
die during your shot, and more variance regarding where your ball lands
and how you come out of the rough. I know no golfer or gamer likes to
hear about unpredictability, but if you knew of a way to get your ball
to land in the exact same place every time – which is what some Tiger
experts have been able to do in the past – it wouldn’t be golf. I
certainly don’t put myself in the expert category, but I didn’t notice a
huge drop-off in my game from last year, so I’m not complaining about
the new changes. If anything, it’s another element that makes the game
slightly more realistic while still being fun.
True-Aim camera system – which only lets you see what your golfer would
see (i.e. no circles showing you where the ball may land, etc.) – makes
things more difficult, but I didn’t get into it that much simply because
unlike the Wii version (see our review on page 95) where the camera
actually tracks your head looking down at the ball before you hit it,
True-Aim isn’t that fun to look at. I was also wishy-washy on the Focus
meter. It gives you a pool of points to spend on spinning your ball,
accuracy and power boost, and Putt Previews. You recharge your meter as
you play, so you won’t run out of it unless you rely on it all the time,
but as a concept it seems a little strange. I can understand how it
makes you pick and choose when to use it, but as a golfer, aren’t I
always trying to focus and hit the ball perfectly?
I think a lot
of players won’t notice too many of this year’s more subtle new
additions, but will instead help themselves to the 24-player online
(where you can construct your own Ryder Cup-like competitions), GamerNet
challenges, online tournaments, and five new courses. That’s fine, but
the smaller improvements made to this year’s game offer players more
freedom and customizability. Hopefully they’ll stick around and be a
part of the franchise’s future.
Email the author Matthew Kato, or follow on Twitter, and Game Informer.