Early adopters of Nintendo’s clip-on accelerometer, the WiiMotionPlus are probably waiting in anxious anticipation to see what Nintendo do with the device in Wii Sports Resort. So far, we’ve seen two WMP-enabled Tennis titles (EA’s Grand Slam Tennis and Sega’s Virtua Tennis) which haven’t exactly set the world on fire with their use of the devices. In fact one of my major complaints in our review of Grand Slam Tennis was that half the time you weren’t even sure that the device was working at all.
In Tiger Woods 10, you’re left in no doubt whatsoever that playing without the WMP would be a waste of time. Experimenting with the game’s controls both with the device attached and detached, the difference is immediate and absolutely obvious – not least because this time EA have thoughtfully given you some visual reference that the WMP is working, in the form of the Draw and Fade indicator).
Control wise, the WMP does the job of enhancing your golf swing as well as giving you an extra axis of movement detection to affect left and right drift (draw and fade) of your shot.
Tiger Woods PGA Tour 10 is the sort of game that the Wii was made for. With none of the other main consoles featuring movement control (yet), it’s still ahead of the pack when it comes to replicating the sort of movement you’ve previously only seen in those slightly wonky golf simulators in bigger arcades.
Once you’ve bolted your WiiMotionPlus into place, attached your wrist strap and made sure that your lounge is golf-safe (moving small children, pets, breakable objects and the like well out of the way) you’re ready to tackle the game’s tutorial.
Taking your first swing is as satisfying as you’d hope it would be. The unparalleled sensation of that first thwack of your wood against the ball is what Tiger Woods games are all about. Here, with the WMP enabled, you might need to slightly rethink the way you’ve been playing golf games because you need to start thinking like a golfer rather than a gamer. The proper stance, or just following what your on-screen avatar does, will go a long way to helping you get your brain around the new control method – and the tutorial does a fantastic job of gently guiding you through each of the skillsets you’ll need to succeed in TW10.
It’s not easy though. When you first encounter draw and fade, and realise that you need to learn how to use them properly (unless you opt for the hollow-feeling amateur control method, which I really wouldn’t recommend) you might find the tutorial tough. Stick with it though, listen to the dull monotone of the tutor (c’mon fellah, sound a bit more enthusiastic there’s a dear!) and you’ll start to understand just how powerful draw and fade are, and how spin on the ball will see you gently curving round obstacles to get on that fairway and green.
Putting also takes patience. Again with the WMP in place, your putting arm movement is replicated very accurately, so you start to learn exactly how much power to put behind a putt in order to drop that ball into the hole nicely.
Only fools and blow-up dolls
TW10′s career mode is a deep and rich experience but it does bring you into direct contact with the game’s weakest elements. The character editor in TW10 hasn’t altered from previous versions of the game on the Wii – and it’s still incapable of rendering a realistic human character that looks anything like you (or for that matter like anything vaguely human). If EA had adopted the approach they did in Grand Slam Tennis and opted for a more cartoony and stylised set of characters in the game, it might have worked better – but the counter argument might be that this would detract from the game’s realism. To be honest that’s a bit of a weak argument when you see the horrible shambling mess of a character you end up with, but this is a small niggle and once you get deep into career mode you probably won’t care that much what your on screen presence looks like.
The rest of the game’s graphics and presentation are nice enough though, with easily navigated menus and plenty of smooth visuals on offer when you start to get your game on.
After your first few shots have plunked satisfyingly into the hole, you’ll begin to realise just how good this game is. It trounces the previous Wii golfing benchmark, Wii Sports Golf, by some considerable margin. Shots are so accurately placed when you learn how the WMP works, that you’ll wonder how EA will ever sell you another golf game. With the amount of extra depth offered in online challenges and with the rest of the game’s extra modes and enhancements, there’s a massive amount of enjoyment to be gleaned from Tiger Woods PGA Tour 10.
Without the WiiMotionPlus it really isn’t that much different to last year’s effort, but with it the game becomes an essential purchase so if you’re willing to stump up the extra cash for the device, or fancy picking up the bundle pack then you’re in for a treat. Golfers and non-golfers will find the game addictive and challenging but never unfair. You may have to unlearn all the skills you’d adopted in previous games to compensate for how accurate the WMP makes your play, but once the control method “clicks” with you, you’ll wish Nintendo had seen fit to include that extra axis of movement sensing from the start.
Until Wii Sports Resort comes along, this is the new WMP benchmark.