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Submitted by Gwynne Dixon on June 29 2010 - 17:16

EA Sports sheepishly wheels out its golfing hero-cum-anti-hero for the thirteenth instalment in the Tiger Woods series...

Like a 'gimme' putt, Tiger Woods is an easy target. Following the much publicised controversy of the past year, it would be all too easy for us to write a review of Tiger Woods PGA Tour 11 where we poke much fun at his folly. Golfing terms such as 'balls' and 'holes' are certainly ripe for the punning, while this year's Ryder Cup only throws up more euphemisms (we don't envy the commentators who'll have to keep a straight face while referring to Tiger Woods' 'foursome'). But we're bigger than that here at TVG. We've always tried to avoid the politics and focus squarely on the games, so we're going to take the high road on this one. No more Tiger Woods gags from this point onwards.

A 'Photoshopist's impression' of what Tiger's in-game world might look like if it were anything like real life.

It might have been a bad year for Tiger, but this year's game is probably the most refreshing in the series' recent history. While Tiger Woods 10 added the official US Open license to its tally for the first time last year, this year's game will be the first in the series to feature the Ryder Cup. All the various matchplay formats from the tournament are well catered for and accompanied by the high production values and licensing gloss that EA Sports is famed for. There's even a 24 player online multiplayer version of the tournament as well, so no stone has been left unturned with the license. Now, if only EA Sports could look into getting that official Augusta Golf Course license for next year...

As always though, official licenses are nice and all but don't mean diddly-squat unless good gameplay is on hand to complement them. Unlike previous years, where EA Tiburon's gameplay innovations have veered more towards gimmicky than substantial, the headlining features for Tiger Woods 11 actually add a hefty portion of meat to the bone. An all-new Focus system and True Aim mode are not only finely balanced, but will also challenge veteran players of the series to master new ways of approaching the game. True Aim, in particular, finally offers the different slant to the series that it was crying out for towards the end of the last decade.

But let's start with Focus. This, as the horrendously annoying tutorial will tell you (bring back Hank Haney as far as we're concerned), essentially groups together all of the various shot perks that the series has layered-on over the years.  So, imparting spin on the ball in mid-air, using 'putt preview', or increasing the accuracy circle of a shot are all under this unified Focus system now. The system itself works through a meter, which depletes as you use any of the shot perks mentioned above. Performing well on a hole will replenish the Focus meter, but the meter swiftly drains of Focus by and will be empty by the halfway house if you're not economical with it.

It's a superbly balanced system that detracts only small amounts of Focus for imparting spin, moderate amounts for extra power, and huge clumps for using the putt preview. More importantly, it adds depth to features that have been abused by players ever since their inception. For example, adding extra power to shots by tapping the A button (X on PS3) during a backswing had become something of a standard in the series. Maxing out the power meter was less of a goal for seasoned players and more of an expectancy. Likewise, with 'putt preview', the previous balance of only being allowed one preview per hole always seemed too generous (more often than not, this was all that was needed to sink a 12-foot putt). Now though, because there's a well thought out economy to all of these features, you actually have to think about it and strategise before using them.
 
True Aim, on the other hand, is an even more inspired addition. It'll appeal most strongly to hardcore fans of the series that need a new challenge or, alternatively, golfing nuts who want as realistic a representation of the sport as possible. Put simply, True Aim retracts the aiming circle from the game. So, when you follow the standard pre-shot process of holding the B button (Circle on PS3) to 'zoom to target', you won't find a helpful aiming reticule at the end that predicts the shot's landing zone. Instead, with True Aim, all you'll find are distance markers.

On top of this, when you actually take a shot the camera doesn't follow the ball down the fairway as it normally would. Instead, it follows the ball's trajectory from the perspective of your golfer. EA Tiburon's camera work is pretty skilful here too, as the camera edges closer to your golfer as the ball flies further away, which kind of ups the tension a little. This obviously makes adding spin to your ball a bit of an educated guess: it's often hard make out exactly where it's landing, so the best thing to do is study the hole well before taking a shot.

The True Aim mode isn't mandatory and can be turned off at any time from the options menu. If you fancy a challenge when you pick up your copy of the game though, we'd suggest setting True Aim to 'On' and doing a round of Bethpage Black with the greens set to 'Hard' and 'Fast', rough long enough to hide in, and the wind at 'Gale Force'. If you manage to finish par for the course, then you're a Tiger Woods PGA Tour master by our reckoning.

One final thing to consider is EA's Online Pass, which makes its debut in this year's Tiger Woods. The long and short of it is that EA is now making people pay for online access to its sports games if they buy them at a trade-in shop. A code on the game's manual unlocks the pass for free so that people buying the game first-hand won't have to pay a penny (as usual), although a fee of 800 Microsoft Points (£6.85) will allow gamers to access the EA servers if the code on their box has already been used by someone else.

As a company that provides servers for all of its games (even on Xbox Live), EA is certainly well within its rights to use the Online Pass system. That said, don't customers who've purchased the game first-hand then have the right to sell it on with all of the original features intact? As always, we welcome your thoughts in the comments...

 

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  • Graphics: 87%
     
  • Sound: 85%
     
  • Gameplay: 84%
     
  • Originality: 70%
     
  • Longevity: 78%
     
Overall Score: 8/10
If yearly sports games are like fine wines, then Tiger Woods 2011's vintage is a good one. It may not be a great year like FIFA 10 or Madden 2003, but it does follow a run of very mediocre years for the series and for this reason it's well worth a look.

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By: freeradical

Added:Mon 10th Jan 2011 10:25, Post No: 22

You can't - you need the manual as there's no other way of getting the code. It looks like you'll just have to fork out for an Online Pass.


User avatar
By: Anonymous

Added:Mon 10th Jan 2011 02:18, Post No: 21

how do i find my code to activate my online pass if i lost my book

 


User avatar
By: Anonymous

Added:Wed 15th Sep 2010 03:10, Post No: 20

which is why any EA game on the ps3 online play is as good as xbox live, i know burnout paradise is almost completly lag free and im sure it must be the same for many other EA games (just a shame other game Devs dont follow suit), i still stand by the fact that microsoft charges way too much to play online just to play on a less laggy server (try playing gears 2 over XBL you still get lag). And no i dont want to hear the stupid fanboy comments stating that psn doesnt have party chat as XBL has only had that since 2007 and XBL started in 2003 so psn has still got at least another year before sony feels the need to implement cross game chat (to be honest i prefer it if they dont do party chat as that just ruins game chat (i know that much as when party chat started the TDU servers were silent as everyone you came across was in a party, before party chat you could actually talk to people like it was a party and cruse round at the same time, party chat just killed in game chat).


By: freeradical

Added:Mon 13th Sep 2010 12:52, Post No: 19

EA is one of the only publishers that uses its own servers on Xbox Live (rather than Microsoft servers) which allows it to levy these charges for online play.

It becomes much more difficult for publishers using Microsoft servers on Xbox Live to charge gamers in the way EA's Project 10 Dollar does.

Technically, a publisher using Microsoft servers on Xbox Live but levying additional charges for online access would be infringing on existing Xbox Live subscription charges. This is the problem that MMOs have faced on the Xbox Live service.


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By: Anonymous

Added:Fri 10th Sep 2010 20:35, Post No: 18

lol defending somthing there missing out on (sure when i sell my games im suppoed to give EA ect some of the money i make, i dont think so) and dont worry about preowned games either as all this online vouvher will do is lower the trade value of games resulting in less games being sold/traded towards new games, yeah sure EA realy lose out (bad spelling i know) dont you think they would have implemented this online charge back when online gaming first started.

 

EA sports ect may spend loads of money making these games but dont you think Atari, Capcom, Konami, Sega, Sony, Microsoft, Nintendo, Bizzare, Poly Phony ect do the same without resorting to charges (maybe there felling pressure from the current economic climate) but if EA and Activision follow there stupid plan to charge extra charges on there games then no one will buy the preowned games.

 

Your welcome to disagree but i seriously doubt the gaming public will agree with paying extra charges on preowned games, talk about milking a game dry.


By: freeradical

Added:Fri 10th Sep 2010 13:58, Post No: 17

I've got to disagree a bit there. The Online Pass is an example of a publisher that's fairly defending itself from piracy and trade-in game sales (for which they don't receive a penny).

EA Sports does spend a lot of money making these games after all and so should be fairly paid for the content that it offers. The company isn't a charity and online gaming isn't an inalienable human right.

In particular, EA Sports' products offer some of the most competitive online content available, run through their own servers (even on Xbox Live), and with strong post-release support. This all costs the company a lot of money long after they've completed development on a title.

I'm fully in favour of the Online Pass, particularly where a game like Tiger Woods 11 is concerned. When you add up all the regularly updated online content in the game, from its Gamernet service to tournaments that are updated daily, Tiger Woods 11's online offerings really are pervassive throughout the whoe experience.

Even if you do buy a trade-in copy, it's only six or seven quid to get the Online Pass and that's well worth what you get in return as far as I'm concerned.


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By: Nimmo___007

Added:Fri 10th Sep 2010 12:59, Post No: 16

It’s all a big con!?! EA should be ashamed of them selves. Tiger Woods was the first game to introduce the play online code! Now all other developers are following suit. Gone are the days of buying a game that wasn’t great in reviews so you wait to get it cheaper pre-owned. DON’T get me started on the downloadable content (DLC) the game wasn’t even out a week and courses started popping up even course from TW10!?! Forgive me but they already had the code for the courses…….. Final word won’t be getting it! EA are releasing half made games to bump up profits with DLC, surly some independent investigations should be done to stop this bum deal to the consumers!!


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By: famalegoods137

Added:Fri 10th Sep 2010 12:44, Post No: 15

This comment has been removed by a moderator.


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By: Anonymous

Added:Fri 10th Sep 2010 10:48, Post No: 14

What Tiger does is none of your business, I for one would bone as many girls as i could if i were him.

I agree EA is screwing PC gamers, I put it down to PC games being so easily pirated.

There is a simple solution to this, get a console and pirate the games on it, once enough people do it you will see these games on PC again.

Greedy game developers charge discusting amounts of money for thier games and deserve to have them stolen.


User avatar
By: Anonymous

Added:Fri 06th Aug 2010 04:23, Post No: 13

what if my playstation 3 crashed and i had to restore my system. now when i try do use my game my online access code is invalid. Ican no longer use my game options?


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