[4 August 2010]
Chances are you don’t like the quadratic equation. In fact, I would venture that you probably couldn’t recite it if asked to. For the record, it is x = (-b +/- (b^2 – 4ac)^(1/2))/(2a) and is most often used to determine the trajectory of parabolic, projectile motion. But that’s neither here nor there. Despite its daunting length, the Quadratic Equation is a fairly simple formula that requires a basic amount of plug and chug computing, and something that, once you become accustomed to using it, is relatively mundane. My high school calculus professor would likely not believe that I would write the following sentence, and it may ruin video games for you, but like almost all games in the series, playing Tiger Woods PGA Tour 11 is as close to using the quadratic equation on a daily basis as you’ll ever come.
When you first start playing Tiger Woods 11, the game is impossible. The series has been modeled as an elaborate career mode wherein you create your own golfer, begin at the bottom of the PGA Tour, and work your way up to dominance. It’s so clearly geared this way that the inclusion of real life golfers is basically a formality and only for use by your friends when they come to visit. At the inception of your character though, winning tournaments (let alone finishing below par) is a pipe dream. But after some RPG-like grinding and experience building, the game becomes one mathematics problem after the next. Your result is an unrealistically perfect shot, and the variables include wind, rain, club selection, and swing speed, among two or three others.
Once the game reveals itself to you and your character has reached the adequate skill level, you’ll never lose again, one of the few major complaints that can be levied against the game. The other primary issue with Tiger Woods 11 is the relative lack of courses. After playing the game for 15-20 hours, you’re intimately aware of all of the courses, and as mentioned above, the game becomes mathematical in execution.
Fortunately, Tiger Woods 11 is still a Tiger Woods game, which means heaps of realism, fun gameplay, and gripping addiction—at least until your character becomes unrealistically dominant (consistent 13- and 14-under rounds kind of surrealism)—not to mention the best online gameplay of any modern sporting game, featuring simultaneous play, where you and your opponent play simultaneously with real time tracking of their shots. This mode does away with the online grind and allows you to play fluidly while keeping tabs on your opponent.
The major addition to this year’s version of Tiger Woods is the inclusion of the Ryder Cup, a real-life collection of matches that pits the United States against Europe. It’s a good idea in theory, but its practical execution is lacking. In it, your character fails to gain a significant amount of experience points, the catalyst for continued play. And by the time that you’re good enough to compete in the tournament, the only real reason to continue playing is to gain as much experience possible and level up your character. The ability to play the Ryder Cup with your friends online is a nice idea, but it may be hard to find eight friends willing to devote that kind of time to an otherwise fruitless affair.
In the end, Tiger Woods 11 carries all of the same ups and downs as previous years. Its new features aren’t enough to set it apart or make it a necessity and the meager course additions are disappointing. The inclusion of a course creator is imminent and would be a wonderful addition to a stagnating series that is getting by solely on its impeccable gameplay and dedicated fanbase.