The general consensus of EA by the paying public over the past years has been that they care not about their customers and just churn out sports sims year after year because they know they will sell. The customer normally buys them on a yearly basis in the vain hope that they have become fun again, because certain titles have fully licensed kits or because EA have simply bought out the competition.
It is because of this that in the last four years or so I have avoided any EA sports title as I don't like shelling out £40 each time for a miracle.
But until recently I worked at the head office of Europe's biggest games retailer and that aforementioned consensus was starting to change. After having regular chats with the online content team it was becoming quite clear that EA have started to make games fun again.
On a recommendation I took a chance on Tiger Woods 09 and I have to say that I am actually enjoying playing it. The last version of Tiger Woods I played replicated my real world frustration at playing 18 holes on a bad day. It seemed that the game became a complete chore and I cheated my way to the top with various codes and trainer memory hacks. I really could not be bothered to sit in front of my T.V/monitor screen and get f'ing annoyed at a game that made me want to throw my real clubs around. I guess this could be down to bad gaming on my part but I simply didn't enjoy them.
Tiger Woods 09 on the other hand is actually fun, the biggest thing that bugged me about previous attempts was the fact you could hear a crowd ... but not see them? This element alone made you feel totally alone on the courses, replicating real world golf I suppose but I normally try to drag a friend around for a gruelling 18 holes. Besides, you are supposed to be playing on the PGA Tour. Well Tiger Woods 09 adds some cardboard cut outs on the course which adds a little something to the events you play and makes it feel like you are part of a tournament increasing the playability in my opinion.
With most games I buy customisation is a big element that I enjoy, I have been known to spend more time in edit mode on games than actually playing them and Tiger Woods is no different. I spent a large part of my time playing with both Game Face and normal edit mode. My attempt at importing Kate Beckinsale into the game didn't work too well but my own face went in a treat and was very easy to do. The website method was the easiest for me as I couldn't get a decent shot from the Xbox Vision camera I own. The process was very easy and fun to do although Mac users beware that the upload feature on the site does not like OS X, I had to run my Winbloze XP partition to upload images. The lack of eye and hair colours is a bit disappointing and the prices of some of the accessories are silly, especially considering that the stuff you can waste $'s on gives you no stats boost at all. Buying a cap purely for aesthetics just isn't worth it when they cost so much. Don't get me wrong, I don't want instant gratification but I want some sort of reward from buying a golf glove for ten grand otherwise I will continue to play in the default EA Sports stuff until I am an in-game millionaire.
The graphics are very nice. The water effects are stunning and all adds to the overall polish of the game. The courses feel organic with the ball physics working very well. Thank god they toned down that spin system as you could get some stupid cheat shots off ridiculous ball bounces. It all feels that little more realistic in that sense.
Having only just started a career mode I have found it to be very enjoyable so far winning my first tournament makes me want to play the game more (why am I typing this?) and something I love in this version is the "Three click" system. With majority of golf games all jumping on the bandwagon with the analogue method of playing, it is nice to have this feature in the game which you can switch to anytime you like. It helps so much when putting or playing your short game and opens up a new level of accuracy, how many times have you blasted a ball over the green by using the analogue stick to play your shots in previous versions?
Well to sum up Tiger Woods 09 is well worth playing and I hope that EA continue with this method of improving their sports titles. God knows they needed to!