Sitting down to play Tiger Woods PGA Tour 11 on the Nintendo Wii is a whole lot like visiting someone who used to be a close friend but you've fallen out of touch with despite only living a mile apart. At first, upon greeting one another there may be a tiny bit of trepidation, but pretty soon you're laughing and having fun just like old times. At least, you're having fun again for a little while, but pretty soon you start to remember that maybe you two didn't just stop being friends, that there actually may have been a reason for it.
As we all know, the Nintendo Wii as a console has some drawbacks, many of which surround Nintendo's decision to focus on the motion-sensing system and not try to one-up Sony and Microsoft in terms of processor power and therefore graphical capabilities. That being said, where the Wii truly excels, where it can and should offer more fun than any other console, is when it comes to sports titles and specifically golf, baseball, cricket, tennis, and just about anything that requires a bat or club. The Wii remote is, essentially, a mini-club and any game that revolves around swinging it in some manner is right up the Wii's alley.
That's why Tiger Woods should be a homerun every single year it comes out – you're swinging a mini-golf club with the Wii remote, there can be no more natural a fit for the system. Last year, the much ballyhooed Wii MotionPlus sensor came out and provided even more accurate motion-sensing abilities making Tiger Woods 10 head and shoulders better than the previous Wii incarnations. Not quite content to rest on their laurels, EA did make a number of changes to this year's game, some of which work better than others.
To be very clear and upfront about this however – and this is a crucial bit of information for Wii owners – you need to play this game with MotionPlus. Without MotionPlus not only will several of the new swing features/views not work, putting is either impossible or far too easy, and the general response one gets to a swing far too variable. No matter how consistently you believe yourself to be swinging the Wii remote, without MotionPlus — and the game will let you play without it (you just may not want to) — it feels almost as if the game is kind of making things up.
As for playing with MotionPlus, well, that's just fantastic. That is outstandingly fun and really is everything you want from the Nintendo Wii. In an attempt to make it even better this year, there are two new swing difficulty settings, one called "Advanced Plus" and the other called "Tour Pro." "Advanced Plus" adds a calculation of swing plane to the system (and seems to place an even greater premium on rotation of clubface), making it slightly more difficult and slightly more true to life.
"Tour Pro" works somewhat less well. Taking "Advanced Plus" a step farther, it asks you to be more consistent and also, allows you to miss the ball completely. That would be fine, except that it requires that you us the new "True View" screen setting and that part of the game is no longer more accurate. What "True View" does is give you a downward look at your ball once you get ready to swing – point the Wii remote down and press "B" to begin your swing and the screen goes from looking out at the hole to looking down at your feet. It would be completely brilliant if you could, in real life, look down at your feet and see the ball, but looking forward to see a downward shot and then swinging the Wii Remote in real life translating to this alternate reality where down is in front of you doesn't make the game more realistic. It might be an interesting challenge and it might be a cute little thing to play around with, but it isn't more realistic. I think I would absolutely love it if I could hook two TVs up to the Wii, one being a flat screen at my feet so that I could look down and see the ball instead of looking forward and seeing a down-facing shot, but without that, it feels too gimmicky.
Tiger 11 has also changed the way you boost your stats. Experience points can be given or taken away for the majority of shots one makes (hit the fairway off the tee and get points, end up in the sand and lose them), and those points translate into your golfer's experience level. By increasing your level you get to add attribute points to your golfer (increase power, accuracy, spin, and recovery) and gain sponsorships. The harder the difficulty setting the more points you earn and the faster your level goes up. The system is quite a bit simplified from the way it used to be and feels as though its been edited to fit better with the new Tiger Woods Online system. You can also choose to enhance one aspect of your game (for money) prior to each round. And, wearing different clothes may get you sponsorship dollars but no longer improves your game.
As for actual game modes, the biggest change (although the Skills Challenge stuff is set up a little differently) is the addition of a Ryder Cup mode which allows you to manage and play on the Ryder Cup team (either side) at Celtic Manor. The heart of the game though is still in Career mode, and that is as deep and involved as ever.
For all that good though there is still definitely some bad that you would certainly think could have been fixed by now in this game. It may be necessary to have jagged lines on players due to the Wii's graphical capabilities, but surely EA could have cleaned up their animated logo a little which has a lot of random bits of digital noise. If you're playing any non-stroke game and win a hole with a bogey or worse, your golfer is still going to look massively disappointed at the way they're playing, the game doesn't take into account at all that you won the hole (and possibly the match). You can't always save a round in the middle, which is exceedingly frustrating in an extended four-play Ryder Cup match which can run nearly an hour (regular career matches can be saved).
The play-by-play still says truly foolish things – like how a three-inch putt is going to move a whole lot or applauding you because you ended up on the fairway in front of the green even though you just missed your green in regulation. Your caddy is still pretty incompetent and if you blindly take their recommendation you're going to be in deep trouble on a regular basis. And, new this year is the game all too regularly giving you a remaining distance to the hole in feet when, as you're just hitting your second shot on a par four, yards would be more appropriate (i.e., you just hit the ball 294 yards and the game informs you that you have 485 feet remaining to the pin so that you have to quickly divide by three to figure out that you have about, I'm rounding, 162 yards to go). Lastly, it does seem odd that they haven’t yet added a “drop or rehit” choice after putting a shot into the drink.
You know what though, just like that old friend you lost contact with for any number of reasons, you may decide after meeting them again – as I did with this new Tiger Woods – that any idiosyncrasies they may have are totally and completely worth dealing with. Yes, the game doesn't look as good here as it does on a PS3 or Xbox 360, but you can't swing your remote to simulate swinging a club on those systems. If you play this game with the Wii (and MotionPlus), you're simply not going to care about the better graphics the other systems maintain. Plus, the Wii remote works pretty well for the again included disc golf, which you can now play online (and there's mini-golf too, but not online). The Golf Party mini-games are back too, and while they're kind of amusing, you're just going to want to hit the links over and over and over again. Just make sure you have the Wii MotionPlus.
If you bought Tiger Woods PGA Tour 10 last year you may not need to upgrade this year. There are some interesting additions and changes (all courses are unlocked at the beginning of the game), and getting the new game does give you chance to start your career from the beginning again. If you didn't buy it last year and haven't gotten on the MotionPlus bandwagon, well then, we highly recommend you go out and pick up a copy as well as MotionPlus (two if you want to play with friends).
Tiger Woods PGA Tour 11 is rated E (Everyone) by the ESRB. This game can also be found on: PS3, Xbox 360 and Mobile Phone.