Few people could deny the fact that the Tiger Woods series has got a little stale of late. The last few entries in the series have tinkered with the tried and tested formula rather than make any significant changes, giving fans what they'd call the bare minimum in terms of new features. The Wii seemed like it might be able to change that, by offering what appeared to be the perfect virtual golf control scheme, but it wasn't to be. Previous outings for Tiger on Wii have failed quite miserably, so now we're looking to Wii MotionPlus to bring us that real golf swing feel.
We'll tackle MotionPlus first, then, as it's by far the game's most significant new feature. While the technology worked fairly well in EA's recent Grand Slam Tennis, it really excels in Tiger Woods 10. There's no 1:1 motion (you still get a fairly noticeable delay between your swing and your character's) but the actual shots you play feel right. For the first time you can stand in your living room, swing the remote and the game will translate that into a close model of what the ball would do in real life. It's far from a 100 per cent accurate sim, but on the hardest swing setting no other golf game can compete in the realism stakes.
There are three swing types to choose from, each offering an experience to suit your style of play. Novices will want to choose the All-play swing, which enables shot previews at all times; intermediate golfers will do well with the standard swing, which offers a fairly realistic experience, but with a few aids turned on to help you out when you need it; and advanced golfers will want to choose the advanced swing, which has increased sensitivity, doesn't allow putt previews and disables manual spin and draw/fade control. Essentially, if you want to draw a ball using the advanced swing you need to rotate the club face on the swing follow through. It's tricky, but well worth the effort when you're banging in long irons to within inches of the hole.
Next up is the new precision putting system. Rather than the numerous length putters we've seen in previous Tiger games, now you can choose to have a single putter that can strike a ball whatever distance is required. An on-screen meter displays the strength of your stroke and it's all about getting a feel for putting. Before too long you'll know how far to pull back for a 30ft putt and you'll be putting instinctively rather than by constantly working out sums in your head and agonising over which length putter will give you the best chance.
MotionPlus and precision putting are by far the two main new additions to the Wii game, but numerous smaller new features make for the best Tiger Woods game we've seen in years. If you've got the Forecast Channel on your Wii you can play courses with live weather from each location, including rain, temperature and wind. It's not purely a cosmetic feature either, with rain slowing down greens and fairways.
In terms of new content there are seven new courses, including Torrey Pines and Banff Springs, and the new Live Tournaments let you compete against players from all across the world. Last but not least is Disc Golf. While this won't be for golf purists, this MotionPlus enabled mini-game lets you throw a Frisbee around each of the game's 27 courses, with the goal being to get the disc in the basket rather than a ball in the hole. It's a neat enough addition to the game, but it's unlikely to tear many gamers away from the core golf experience.
Outside of the new additions it's pretty much Tiger Woods as you remember, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. You get coaching and tips from Tiger's coach Hank, there's a sizable career mode to play through (including the PGA Tour season and FedEx Cup), various challenges to complete that let you relive classic PGA Tour and US Open moments, numerous traditional and arcade game modes, and even a Golf Party mode if you want to play a collection of fun games with friends. The majority of Wii owners might not use it, but you can also tune every club in your bag to best suit your game.
Online play, in traditional form or the fast-paced mode that lets all players compete at the same time, works great. The online feature-set isn't nearly as accomplished as that found in the PS3 and Xbox 360 games (GamerNet is nowhere to be seen sadly), but considering lots of Wii games don't even offer basic online multiplayer, Tiger 10 on Wii seems relatively feature rich in this area.
It seems as though EA is finally making strides with the Wii as Tiger 10 definitely looks a step above what the publisher has provided golf loving Wii owners in the past. The game is still nearer PS2 level visuals than next-gen, but it looks solid enough and the courses are nicely detailed. It's also a bit of a coup for Wii owners that their version of the game features far more courses than the next-gen versions, with 27 being more than enough to keep you going for many, many months.
After some fairly abysmal Tiger Woods games on the Wii it's quite incredible that EA has managed to turn it around completely. This isn't just the best Wii golf game we've played, but the best golf game we've played on any system. The MotionPlus controls work brilliantly, giving you a sense of realism that is completely unmatched in other games, no matter the console. If you want a fun, accessible golf game that lets you pretend to be a real pro then look no further. Tiger Woods 10 on Wii sets a new benchmark for others to follow.