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Reviewed by Jason Thompson
ike an old friend, Tiger Woods is back with his yearly video game update. Gee, it feels like only yesterday when I reviewed “Tiger Woods PGA Tour 08.” It’s safe to say that this year’s version doesn’t have anything really radical to change it up much, which will please the core audience who might play this game religiously. But just like last year, I haven’t done much golfing on my console. Well, that is to say I haven’t done any golfing on my console since last year’s "Tiger Woods" game. But hey, that doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate what’s going on here.
The biggest plus in this year’s game is that EA got rid of that ridiculous Game Face feature. If you’ll recall in last year’s game, this little addition allowed gamers to put their own faces into the game via the camera on their Xbox. Only problem was, it didn’t work. Not by a long shot. So thankfully that gimmick is toast and we can all get back to the green without worrying about personally injecting ourselves into it. So what is the new feature this year?
Well, there are a couple of them. For starters, Tiger Woods’ coach, Hank Haney, is on the green with you to help your performance and provide hints to improve your game. This is obviously a feature for the gamer who really wants to learn how to play this game. I still just like loading it up and smacking the balls around, in as much of an arcade fashion as I can. Besides, Haney’s “help” is actually pretty minimal. Sure, he provides some tips here and there, but his presence isn’t half the big deal the intro to the game makes it out to be. The other new addition is the online four-player simultaneous play. For those who are impatient as hell, rejoice! You no longer have to wait your turn while some idiot (like myself), who isn’t trying his absolute best, is crawling to the green.
For those seriously into this, there is also the all-new “Club Tuner.” This handy little item is basically a calibration tool that allows you to whittle down the clubs so that they are just right for you and your golfing style. Think of it as sort of like messing with your car in a racing game such as “Gran Turismo,” getting in there and making the fine adjustments amid myriad choices to optimize your playing ability. Or, just say to hell with that and be like me -- take the clubs you’re given and let the game do the choosing for you. Hey, golf is a lazy sort of game. Sometimes it’s good to be as lazy as possible with the simulation.
Of course, there are also a flock of new courses and golf superstars to check out this year as well. Fans will no doubt be delighted to try out their skills on courses such as England’s Wentworth Country Club and Gary Player Country Club. But with all the new features, old-time fans will be happy to know that this game is pretty much the same as it has been, with swing control either being a three-button-click affair or a swing with the analog stick. The game looks nice, and while the color commentary is flat-out boring, I’m not sure anyone is really going to be playing this game for that feature.
“Tiger Woods PGA Tour 09” is safe, friendly, and just different enough to keep the ball rolling, as it were. It doesn’t take many chances, and it really doesn’t need to. After all, this is golf. A nice, quiet day on the links going for par or better on some of the finest courses in the world. That is undoubtedly heaven on earth to a lot of folks. For me, I enjoy it when my player totally screws up and throws his club in a hissy fit. Call me crazy, but I like a little excitement in my sports games.