I feel like I've written this review numerous times already. Such is the way with the Tiger Woods series that the vast majority of the game remains the same year after year. It's not necessarily a bad thing, considering EA has completely dominated the genre in terms of quality and sales for quite some time, but at some point a fairly large shake up might be needed. This isn't the year for that though, with Tiger 10 building on 09 with a handful of new features and refinements.
If you've somehow managed to miss the series until now the basics are very simple. Essentially you swing your club with the left analogue stick, with the straighter the movement the more pure the connection with the ball. The right stick handles club loft, you can add spin by tapping a button while the ball is mid flight and there's a large number of PGA golf pros to play as or against. Add in the ability to create an incredibly life-like custom golfer and build his or her stats over a lengthy career, and you've more or less got a snap shot of Tiger 10.
Additions this year vary in significance, with the most important being the new precision putting system. Rather than giving you different putters for various putt lengths, now you've got the one club that is used for all strokes on the green. Short putts require gentle little swings, while monstrous green-stretching goliaths need a heftier stroke. As before the putt preview is present if you're not playing on the hardest difficulty, so you can get some idea of where the ball is going if you play the putt with default pace and along the line you're aiming. The new system is far better than what we had before and brings back some of the skill that has been missing in recent years.
Also new is the Live Tournament mode. Here you can set up events to play with other virtual golfers or even compete against real scores set by pros while playing in real-world events that week. It's certainly a bit of a novelty in part, but the tournament setup facility is a worthwhile addition, adding to an already feature rich online component. EA's GamerNet feature returns, meaning there's always an abundance of challenges to have a stab at, all set by the Tiger 10 community. If you play a particularly brilliant recovery shot out of the rough and want to see if anyone else can do better, upload it and test the masses.
Not quite such a big deal is the brand new live weather system, which mimics the real life weather in each of the 16 courses so that you're playing in conditions as they would be if you were there in person. It is more than just an aesthetic addition, too, with swirling winds obviously affecting the ball's movement in the air and wet greens slowing down putts. It's not genre defining, but it's a neat new feature all the same.
The real core to the game is the career mode, in which you level up your custom character by playing through the PGA Tour and FedEx Cup. As with previous versions this alone will take you weeks to play through so there's no shortage of game here, even if lots of it has been seen before. There's also a challenge mode, letting you relive famous US Open moments from history. Add in the ability to shape your clubs to the spec of your choosing (something for experts really) and plenty of online game modes covering quick play (where all players take part simultaneously) and more lengthy round types, and there isn't a more feature rich golf game on the market.
If you've played previous Tiger Woods games until your fingers have bled then you might notice a few visual enhancements (the lighting and rough look better to our eyes), but for most Tiger 10 will look more or less identical to 09. It's still a good looking game, but it's a shame that the frame rate takes a dive now and again, even if it has no impact on the gameplay. Less impressive is the hugely irritating commentary, which you'll likely want to mute as soon as possible. Some attempt has been made to recreate the tournament atmosphere by having a lively crowd, but visually there are still not enough of them scattered around each course - the true tournament look and feel still hasn't been reproduced.
What you're probably most concerned about is whether or not Tiger 10 is worth buying if you own Tiger 09 or even 08. The changes are quite slight, but the putting is vastly improved and the new features make for a better game than before, so if you like the sound of those you won't be disappointed. Anyone who's been away from the series for some time or has yet to play it will find a game that has been tuned extensively down the years, and with the new precision putting there really isn't a better time to finally jump in.