The last twelve months have been rather turbulent for Tiger Woods, but despite all of his personal problems, EA decided to stick with the golfing superstar. It's a good thing too, as even though last year's Tiger Woods was arguably one of the best in the series, EA Tiburon have further refined the title's gameplay and added the Ryder Cup tournament for the first time in the franchises' history.
The game features a pretty good roster, including the incredibly stat-boosted Tiger Woods, but part of the fun of sports games is creating a new sports star and trying to take them to stardom. The options are actually quite extensive, with lots of different facial options and of course, the option to digitally include a photo of someone. After creating a custom golfer, players are then greeted with a eight part tutorial which explains how the game plays, while also introducing some of the new features, such as the 'true-aim' system, which allows players to use the analog stick to perform a swing with a lot of the aids taken away.
The tutorials also explain the new 'focus' system, which enables players to pull off special shots. Focus can be used to boost a shot's power, increase a shot's accuracy, add spin on the ball when it lands, affect its flight and give putt previews. It changes the dynamic of the game, and because the focus bar isn't unlimited, players have to think about how they wish to use it. To replenish the focus bar, players have to perform shots without using any focus modifications - it's a system that balances out quite nicely.
Once players have set up their new superstar and become comfortable with the controls, they can then take to numerous courses that are on offer in various modes. These include the typical stroke play, match play and four ball and they all allow players to become familiar with the courses and their golfer. By performing in this modes, players will also gain experience modifiers, which can be used to improve their golfer's various stats. However, there is the option to play with numerous friends in all of these modes.
The main draw of Tiger Woods PGA 11 comes with the addition of the Ryder Cup, arguably golfs most prestigious event. It allows the player to control almost every detail, including where the event is actually being played and who will be playing for both Europe and the USA. This is slightly confusing though, as the roster isn't really large enough. If players do want to switch out characters there aren't really any replacements, and in a strange move, players can actually allow Europeans to play for the USA team and vice versa.
The mode as a whole really helps the game to come to life. Players can be as active as they like throughout the whole tournament, so it's possible to take control of many different pairings. By taking part in the different match-types and being paired up with different personalities, it helps to give the game much more personality and add some genuine rivarly.
Graphically, the game is fairly decent. The players do look like their real-life counterparts, but they don't particularly look lifelike due to some strange animations. The courses however, are much better. Their visuals change depending on the weather and time of day, and the grass textures also sway along with the direction of the wind. The commentary is also quite good, but it can get a bit tedious after a while.
To compliment all of the offline modes and the progression that's available with the custom golfer, there's a fully integrated online mode. There are 10 different gameplay types and it's possible to play with up to a maximum of 24 different people. However, despite the game being built for that, 4-player games are a much more common occurrence.
Tiger Woods PGA Tour 11 manages to build on the success of last years game by adding some new gameplay features, such as 'true aim' and of course, the magic of the Ryder Cup. There are still some question marks regarding the game's presentation, but they're relatively easy to ignore. If golf's your game, it's hard not to recommend Tiger Woods 11.