First of all, give yourself a pat on the back for making it this far into the review. Sports games (that aren’t FIFA) aren’t very popular in these parts, so games like the Tiger Woods PGA Tour series are pretty much outcasts here. Like Test cricket, golf doesn’t make for an ideal spectator sport. But just because the sport itself doesn’t evoke excitement from the average gamer, it doesn’t mean that a video game based on it can’t do so. I’m here to tell you why it can, and why Tiger Woods PGA Tour 10 in particular does.
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If you’re neither a golf fan nor a fan of sports games, you’re probably thinking that this is the perfect example of a game you would never play. But you would be wrong. Sure, golf fans can probably see the science behind the game and speak the language it speaks, but for the rest of us, for whom this is something new, this game has a totally different appeal. In fact, I look at it more as a puzzle game than a sports simulation. It’s all about getting from A to B by negotiating tricky level design, challenges in the form of changes in terrain, sand bunkers and water hazards, and dynamic changes in wind and weather conditions that make you alter the way you play.
The game doesn’t bog you down with technical jargon like a Madden or a baseball game would. There really isn’t much of a learning curve here either and most of what you do on the course will come to you instinctively. For instance, when teeing off, if you see a 20kmph wind blowing from left to right across the fairway, you would instinctively aim your shot further to the left to compensate for the wind and ensure the ball lands where you intend it to. When putting in a downpour, you would naturally put more power into your putt to ensure that it travels the distance over the wet turf. You don’t need to be a golf expert to know these things; its just common sense. Yes, you will need to use different gold clubs based on your location on the course, but the game does a decent job of selecting your clubs for you, and once you get into the swing of things, you’ll even start picking your own clubs and play the way you want to.
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For those new to golf, here’s a quick 101. Each course consists of 18 holes and these holes are of varying length and difficulty, denoted by Par. For example, a Par 3 hole means that your aim is to get from the tee (the starting point) into the hole in three shots or less. Taking more shots would give you a positive score (over Par), putting the ball in the cup in less than three shots would give you a negative score (under Par), while getting there in three will leave you at an even zero. Negative scores are good and the player with the highest negative score at the end of the 18 holes wins. So the real challenge here is consistency. The 18 holes are essentially 18 levels, and you’ll need to do consistently well to end the round under Par.
The PGA Tour is the main game mode, where you’re required to create a golfer and level him up from an inaccurate weakling to a pro, who can match the likes of Woods, Singh, and Mickelson shot for shot. A calendar system guides you from tournament to tournament. Your golfer’s stats are broken up into Power, Accuracy, Short Game, and Putting. Short Game refers to approach shots that get you from just outside the putting green onto the green. These are probably the most challenging and critical shots of any hole. You don’t just have to keep in mind the power and aim, but also the trajectory and the top/back spin if any. All of this can be manually decided, although again, the game does a great job of picking the ideal shot for you and letting you focus on power and accuracy alone. Matches can get pretty intense and you’ll often find yourself on the edge of your seat as you line up that putt for Birdie. This is where the game is at its best and even after long 18-hole rounds, it will keep you coming back for more.
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What’s great about your stats is that they rely solely on how you play. If you’re great at driving off the tee but unable to putt accurately, your power stats will increase, while your putting stats won’t. In fact, playing poorly in any one area will actually reduce your stats. So you don’t just level up; playing poorly will level you down. Playing well earns you money, which can be used for clothing and equipment and buying more advanced equipment also has an effect on your performance.
Next page: Verdict