So ’09 saw the advent of EA’s “everyone can play” feature in all it’s major sports titles. The “All Play” titles basically is used to try and attract the more casual (uh-oh) gamer to pick up titles that might more often have been purchased by the more hard core fan base. You are presented with a slew of gaming options in TW ’09. So much so that I, a non golfer but hardened gamer, found it overwhelming to start with. The major new items for this release is the afor mentioned All Play, Wii exclusive party mode, online multiplayer.
The graphics are reasonably good for a Wii title, ie they sit somewhere between an Xbox and a 1st gen Xbox 360 title. The tree’s and backgrounds shimmer and wobble as the engine strains to render it all but it manages a faithful recreation of the gaming courses which include classics such as Pebble Beach, TPC Sawgrass, and St. Andrews.. The textures are all smudgy but the character models are very nicely done and animate very well.
You can overlook the previous gen graphics though when you step up to the mark and smack that ball using the Wiimote. The Wiimote is used in all manner of gaming genre but this is one it was born to forfil. The game uses a 1:1 swing dynamic that should map your actions with the Wiimote to the actions onscreen. In 70% of the cases this is true and looks and works well. unfortunately the problems come when you need to do shot of, say, 60%. Now you would think that would be no problems just – wrong! More often than not you end up hitting it at 100% or at some other stupid value. This is probably more a problem with the inaccuracy of the Wiimote than it is with the game but it still impacts the overall enjoyment. Like wise once you get to the green putting is flat bust! The mechanics are in place to undertake the shots you need but man is it fucked. For example, you have a 2 metre putt to make. the game tells you that you need to hit the ball at around 80% to make it to the hole via the putt preview feature. So you line up and think balls to it and hit it 100% only to find your ball grind to a halt 0.5 meters IN FRONT of the hole! WTF! It makes the putting a very random affair and ruins all the hard work you put in getting to the green. As far as I can tell golf is won and lost on the green and this just takes the piss.
With that said the game is still good fun to play, especially if you have a few of you playing at the same time. The party mode is a nice little add on but ultimately shallow and won’t be used more than once or twice. There are a huge number of courses to choose from and at around and hour or so for a full 18 holes you will certainly get a fair bang for your buck. The career mode is very indepth and you can develop your user defined golfer through the My Career mode. As you play you earn money and ability points that you can spend on clothes and golfing attributes respectively. This will help you get better as you aim to achieve Tiger like stats.
The sound in the game is restricted to ambient noises, annoying crowd chants and piss poor commentary that, like me, you will turn off after about an hour or so. The limited number of EA Trax are passable but how they appropriate to a golf game I am unsure. The “Thwak” of the ball is suitably meaty and satisfies well when you belt the ball down the fairway. Voice acting is provided by the commentators and the coach Hank Hanley. All is recorded in reasonable quality but there is an underlying crackle that smacks of a low sample rate. As mentioned before you WILL turn the commentary off as it grates like hell. That and the guys that yells “In the hole!” constantly when your trying to put the ball.
The online multiplayer works well enough, especially for a Wii title. I played a couple of rounds online and lag was not really a factor at all. It plays like you would expect as it is basically like playing with someone in your front room. Matching seems to be fairly random but it adds a satisfying element to the game if your short of real opponents to play against.
There is a lineup about 24 or so pros including Tiger Woods and stars such as Colin Montgomerie, Mike Weir, Annika Sorenstam, and Se Ri Pak. Throughout the game professional coach Hank Haney is on hand to offer up more advice here, and to walk through the mechanics of the Wii Remote swing. The problems with putting render a large part of this game broken, which is a shame as when it works the game is good fun. I have probably racked up around 12 – 14 hours of play now along with my wife and it’s a good laugh to play. if you can forgive the few niggles about the controls then pick it up, I grabbed mine for £22 from Asda so it was not really a bad purchase for the money.
The All-play system does try and help the best it can but to be honest the default setting is adequate and allowed my 8 year-old son to play the game well enough to finish Par or just over on most holes. If this was a game on the PS3 or XBox I would say avoid, but due to the Wiimote, which I suspect accounts for 90% of the control problems anyways, the game is fun when it works. The number of options, the online and the in depth career mode all mean your getting a substantial game for your money.
Final thoughts: If your a golf fan then give it a purchase, otherwise make it a rental and see if you can stick it’s flaws. If you can there is a deep game inside.