I am a big golf fan, but like millions of other golf fans I have completely tuned out golf since the recent knee surgery of Tiger Woods. I know its widely accepted (and I 100% agree) that golf is missing a huge part of its appeal without Tiger Woods in the field. Tiger can be ten strokes back on Sunday and analysts will still say he has a good chance of winning the tournament, he is just that electrifying. So with our attention off of golf since his amazing win at the US Open, EA is hoping that in his absence we can relieve the void by picking up the latest entry into the Tiger Woods PGA Tour franchise in Tiger Woods PGA Tour 09. Does this game for the Xbox 360 do enough to help golf fans make an easier transition to get over the absence of Tiger in real life? Read our full review to find out!
Before even checking out Tiger Woods PGA Tour 09 I was talking to a close friend who is an avid sports gamer. We were talking about the progression of sports games on a yearly basis and how we would find it extremely hard to continually innovate for the game of golf. The question then arose how many new features can you really come up with on a year to year basis? Are golf games going to become just smaller expansions with course upgrades, roster updates, and game fixes? Have we come to the best we are going to see from golf video games?
Well from the press releases EA still seems to think they have quite a few tricks up their sleeves with Tiger Woods PGA Tour 09. The main feature we heard a lot about in the time leading up to this game was the addition of Tiger Woods coach Hank Haney. His main purpose in the game is to give both visual/audible analysis of your game and areas you need to work on. Really all it ends up amounting to is a glorified progression system. His tips don’t seem to have much significance and outside continually upgrading your golfer his impact on the game is quite limited.
My favorite part of Tiger in past years has been the Tiger Challenge and this years edition is no exception to that. What I always have liked about them is the mix of challenges and then taking on the professional. The setup is nearly identical to years passed just with nicer aesthetics. Your of course working your way through the challenges for two reason first to increase your skills and second to beat Tiger in the end. Its a pretty deep mode with plenty of variety but it may be time to retool the mode a bit and give some different looks.
The only other big/notable addition to the game is the club tuner which basically allows you to get your clubs tuned to your style of golf. The idea being that you will want to hit the ball straight so if you can get your thumb to do it you will have to mend the clubs to your play style. This is a nice addition, one that will only be used once or twice but does deepen the experience for those hardcore fans looking to really hone their skills.
Speaking of honing your skills there has been some changes to the online setup for Tiger Woods 09 this year on the Xbox 360. The idea should have been implemented a long time ago but when you decide to go test your skills online you can play simultaneously with three other gamers. What this means is that you don’t have to take turns hitting the ball everyone goes at the same time. This takes a little bit of the social aspect out but it also takes away the hour long eighteen hole rounds that were found in past online games.
I very rarely bring up the commentary in a golf game, but what happened to McCord and Faherty, because the two snoozers that EA replaced them with are a downright disgrace to the video game. These two new commentators are really on the bottom of the barrel for video game commentary. I really missed the sly remarks of McCord and Faherty and they were greatly missed in Tiger Woods 09.
When it is all said and done what Tiger Woods PGA Tour 09 really is in terms of gameplay is a refinement and small upgrade to last year’s game. Head to head the gameplay is nearly identical minus a few extra bells and whistles. There are some beautiful new courses and some nice new features but the game doesn’t go all that far from its comfort level either. There is no denying however that EA has nailed making great playing golf games.
I was really impressed with some of the new courses in Tiger Woods PGA Tour 09 and much of the games menus have gotten a nice facelift as well. The game just has a nice steady progression from last year’s game and on an HD set really does look quite nice.
What I have always loved about this franchise is how great they make Tiger look, its just to bad there Photo Game Face system wasn’t so buggy. So as of right now I don’t have a Xbox Live Vision Cam so I decided to undertake uploading a front and side photo of my face on EA’s website. That process went fine and I had no problem getting my front face in the actual game on the Xbox 360 but no matter how many different ways I tried I couldn’t get my side view face uploaded (this was tried over ten times up until the day this review was written (9/7/08). So needless to say my Photo Game Face didn’t come out all that strong, in fact it ended up looking pretty bad. There is no doubt that it is still a great idea and one I hope they continue to improve in coming iterations.
Overall though the visuals of Tiger Woods PGA Tour 09 are solid, they don’t go over the top to impress but do enough to keep you coming back for more.
What is so great about a Tiger Woods PGA Tour game of a golf and playing golf in real life is the lack of frustration. I never find myself wanting to throw something when playing the game nor do I ever get to point of throwing out expletives. More then anything it is great to be able to get through some truly majestic golf courses and continue to improve your player along the way. The game really does do a solid job of rewarding your players stats with the play on the course so if you knock in a few clutch putts your players stats will reflect that. All of this really does continue to amount to a very enjoyable game.
Chances are owners of Tiger Woods PGA Tour 08 will probably be more then happy just hanging onto that version of the game. The additions to this year’s game aren’t such that make you want to run out and buy the game. However if you have taken some time away from the series there is no reason why this years game isn’t a great point to come back in.
The owner and editor-in-chief of Darkstation.com. I've been apart of the website since 2002 and purchased the website in 2010. Owning and running Darkstation is a dream come true. I love video games and I love writing and talking about them even more.