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Tiger Woods PGA Tour 09 All-Play


Every year EA inundates the market with the latest installment of their sports franchises. This has been a practice that has gone on for quite some time and given fans appetites for the most up to date experiences, it's not a trend that we're going to see dissipate any time soon. In particular, Tiger Woods PGA Tour is the named successor the old PGA Tour franchise. The Woods leg of EA Sports' journey began ten years ago with the first release for the original PlayStation. A couple console cycles later and we're looking at the 2009 edition of the series, which sees a great amount of variety offered on the Nintendo Wii.

Gameplay


It's no secret that the Wii has the potential for a distinct advantage over the other consoles for sports titles. The very concept of the Wii makes the system ripe for use with its motion controls and plethora of accessories. Unfortunately, previous outings for Tiger on Nintendo's system have been decent, but nothing special at the end of the day. Sure the motion control was there, though it wasn't exactly the pinnacle of accuracy or ease of use. It felt like a tacked on feature that had been taped together with a PS2 game as part of the package. All Play essentially reinvents the game from the ground up though, and EA Tiburon deserves a pat on the back for a job well done.

With the Wii's focus on the casual gamer, it's worth noting that All Play is a smartly titled game, because just about everyone can get into it. In many ways this is the easiest, most accessible and accurate golf game on the system. After playing with the motion controls implemented in the 2009 Woods game, you won't want to play any other version. It's so eerily precise with each swing that it will really give you the sensation that you're on the green getting ready to tee off. There are some ins and outs with the controls that come from tweaking the difficulty of the game, but all around it feels very responsive and natural. This gives the Wii a distinct advantage over the 360 and PS3 titles, which may have better graphics, but rely on the standard controller to play.

It's worth noting with regards to the motion controls that the Wii version doesn't quite pull off the putting mechanic. In order to execute a put you still have to pull back and do a full swing. It's something that takes a lot of getting used to, and frankly it never feels right no matter how many times you do it. It's a big oversight, but given the all-around quality of design in this year's game, it's almost forgivable. While discussing things that don't work so well in terms of control, take a note that the draw and fade system is cumbersome and virtually useless. Almost equally pointless is the Club Tuner for the Wii version, which doesn't really make or break anything. Hopefully as more technology becomes available for the Wii, the 2010 version of Tiger Woods will get this stuff right.

Thankfully, despite All Play's outstretched hand towards the casual gamer, the game is no slouch when it comes to modes. Whether you've played other Tiger games on the Wii or not, I suggest you take yourself through the practice mode first in order to grow accustomed to the controls. They take some time to get down completely, and you'll definitely want to be at the top of your game if you want to make par on some of these holes. Once you're ready to take to the real course you'll probably want to check out the My Career Mode first.

As you'd imagine, the Career Mode is where you'll be spending most of your time with the game, at least while playing single player. You begin by creating a custom character and taking the rank amateur through the ringer of the PGA Tour season. Despite the fact that this game is the 2009 edition, you can play through a whopping 30 years of tour events. Really though, I don't think any sane person could play that much of this game, but it's still a lot of fun to work your way to the Fedex Cup. If you don't want to work your way through the Tour though, you can skip right to Fedex. There's also a Tiger Challenge mode which pits you against some of the best golf players in the world, and of course, even Tiger himself.

Outside of the Career Mode there are plenty of other diversions to test your clubs on. Mini-games such as T-I-G-E-R (golf's answer to horse), Capture the Flag, Target, and Mini-Putt are available, as are Bloodsome, Greensome, Skins, Stroke and Match Play, and a few other favorites such as Best Ball, Four Ball, and Stableford. An Arcade Mode is available as well with some more enjoyable games to play with. If you really want to test your skill you can try hitting balls through a set of rings, play through an eight player elimination mode, battle golf, or even one-ball. The Wii gets a incredibly fun mode called Golf Party, which allows for some goofiness on the course as you're able to mess with the other players ball and you can make your way through yet more mini-games.

Probably one of the biggest additions to this game that makes All Play a success is the inclusion of online play. Up to four players can go through simultaneous play and compete against each other. It's speedy, fun, and addictive, but the Wii's communication limitations definitely make it a little lonely. Then again, I suppose you don't want someone screaming obscenities in your ear while you're lining up a shot.

All around, Tiger Woods PGA Tour 09 All Play is a solid effort by EA's Tiburon studio. The franchise has finally captured the Wii golf crown, and this is arguably the best of the sport your going to find on the system. The controls are a blast, it's very accessible, and the vast amount of modes and gameplay are simply staggering. There's a lot of stuff to do here and it's something that casual gamers and hardcore fans can appreciate.

Graphics


Last year's Wii effort did not look very good at all. For all intents and purposes it came across as a PlayStation 2 effort gone awry and simply didn't do the Wii justice. Thankfully the 2009 edition of the game offers a much better all around presentation with slicker character models, better courses, and sharper effects. The colors are bright and definitely resemble some other Wii titles, but even so some problems persist. Draw distance isn't quite as sharp as it should be and textures blur frequently as well. Overall it's slightly better looking than a PS2 game, but definitely nowhere near the likes of the 360 and PS3 versions. If you're not looking for a landmark Wii title then you won't be disappointed.

Audio


Sports games are always tricky when it comes to sound direction. Well, at least golf is. The game is all about being quiet on the course with only the occasional sound from nature filtering in, or cheer from the crowd after a successful shot. All Play offers straightforward and simplistic sound effects that do the sport justice, but aren't very immersive or impressive. The soundtrack included here is decent enough, but the commentator gets repetitive after a while.

Conclusion


If you're looking for a good golf game for the Wii, then Tiger Woods PGA Tour 09 All Play is the one to get. The modes are lengthy and enjoyable, the online play can be addictive, and the controls are utilized better than most. This is way better by far than 2008's version, but even so it's not a perfect experience. There are still some frustrating loose ends to tie up here and there, though I suppose no game ever achieves perfection. Until that happens, consider this game when looking for some digital golf.