|System: X360, PS3, Wii||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: EA Tiburon||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Electronic Arts||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: June 8, 2010||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-24||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
One of the more subtle tweaks to PGA 11 is the inclusion of an XP mechanic. Rather than earning cash to blow, players will be awarded XP for pulling off tough shots, finishing well, staying in the fairway, getting on the green in regulation, etc. This is a really nice way of rewarding players for their efforts across all the game modes. Experience also makes character creation a bit more rewarding than in years past. I liked creating my golfer, Shooter McGavin, and pimping him out with ever sweeter stats and even honing his swing to a Faldo-like edge in the swing tuner. The addition of XP proves to be a boon for the series that should holdover for the foreseeable future.
Tiger Woods PGA Tour 11 also marks the first time EA SPORTS has implemented its Online Pass structure. For those of you uninformed, EA SPORTS is going to offer vouchers included in every brand new copy of their sports games, which can be redeemed by the first owner of the title for unlimited online access. For any subsequent owners, the code will no longer be valid. In that case, you'll have to cough up an additional $9.99 to get access to online team play, daily, weekly, and live tournaments, and even standard online multiplayer. I have no problem with this, as the secondary game market is quite costly for publishers to support. Moreover, the online features offered in PGA 11 are quite robust, it is only natural that EA should only want to support paying players.
Speaking of online features, being able to play with 23 other players in team events is pretty cool. However, as mentioned earlier, it does get painfully slow. Nevertheless, it is nice to have the capability, and I could see hardcore gamers with similarly hardcore friends having a most excellent time playing each other for Samuel Ryder's hardware. As always, connections are usually rock solid, and there's a huge community of players that can be competed with or against at any time of day or night. Finally, GamerNet Challenges, which boost your EA GamerNet score if you complete them, are a nice addition, especially whilst playing solo. These challenges crop up on the in-game ticker when one is available. They will test you to hit long, straight drives and get near to the pin with your irons. If you do beat the challenge, your score will be recorded and sent to others playing the game whilst connected to the Internet.
If you plan on playing alone, or at least keeping things local, there are plenty of game modes to play (pretty much every important variation of golf is represented) and 17 courses are available at the outset plus a random 18 option. New courses can be purchased from the EA Store over time; the Highlands is currently the only premium course content offered. Also, these courses play quite differently depending on how you set them up. In PGA 11, you can nicely adjust courses to your specifications - you can change fairway and greens speeds, softness of greens, length of rough, type of pin placement, weather conditions, and, most importantly, wind conditions. You can even add Pro Challenges to the mix, which force you to play without woods or irons, make sand or trees OB, take away power boosting and spinning, etc. All of this tweaking, especially pin placement and wind condition, really keeps the course selection fresh and challenging.
Tiger Woods PGA Tour 11 is another class-act entry in the Tiger Woods franchise. The addition of the Ryder Cup and the tweaks to the swing mechanic make this year distinct enough that fans of the series will likely want to upgrade. I had a lot of fun with this title despite its missteps, and I plan on playing it often. That being said, the thought of waiting through the seemingly endless load screens and navigating the stifling menus is about enough to turn me away. Still, if you can handle the tortoise-slow pacing, there's a deep, fresh take on "the greatest game" to be found.
CCC Editor / News Director