Tiger Woods PGA Tour 09 First Look

Tiger's got a coach, and so will you in EA Sports' next installment of its yearly golf franchise.

Player progression in sports games can be a tricky thing to emulate. On one hand, you can go the standard route: earning attribute points by finding success on the playing field, and then applying those points to your player's various attributes such as strength, speed, and so on. Then there's the more realistic method of improving in skills that you use on a regular basis in the game. With the upcoming Tiger Woods PGA Tour 09, the developer behind the game is moving to a fully dynamic attribute system that appears to have a significant impact. We got our first taste of this system at this week's EA Sports press event, at which the publisher showed off the game for the first time.

Hank Haney teaches Tiger Woods how to play better golf. Yeah, he can probably do something for your virtual golf game as well.

When you first start Tiger 09, you'll meet Hank Haney. You might not recognize his name offhand, but he's apparently good at teaching golf; or at least Tiger Woods, whom Haney trains, thinks so. After introducing himself, Haney will want to take a look at your virtual golf game to get a feel for where your skills are across several aspects: power, accuracy, short game, and putting. To gauge your ability, you'll have some basic challenges to complete. For example, for the power challenge, you'll need to drive the ball past a line marker on the course. After you've passed the challenge--and it really shouldn't take more than a few tries, maximum--you'll be assigned a power rating based on the game's assessment of your shots.

You'll repeat similar challenges for the other central aspects of your game until you have some basic parameters from which to start out with your skills. You'll still have plenty of opportunities to improve your skills (or indeed watch them drop) as you continue through the game. In fact, simply by playing rounds in the game, all of your player attributes will change according to your skill with the sticks. If you manage to reel off a round of powerful drives and accurate chips, your power and short-game attributes will rise accordingly. If you find yourself hacking your way out of the brush due to errant tee shots, or dealing with the yips on the green, then your accuracy and putting attributes will take a dip.

As you golf, your coach will be on hand to offer you advice on how you can improve your game. You'll also have the ability to go back and try bad shots over again using a rewind feature that will re-create a shot exactly as it was the first time around. If you manage to improve your shot the second time around, you'll gain back what you lost in terms of your golfer's attributes, and have a little more knowledge on how to attack the same shot next time.

Another in-game tool designed to help improve your play on the links is the so-called club tuning. Here, you can tune any club in your bag in a similar way to how a mechanic might tune a race car. For example, if you're looking for more power out of your driver, you can adjust a power rating on the woods. However, just as with tuning a race car, every tuning adjustment has a trade-off. With your clubs, that trade-off comes in the form of the sweet spot on the ball. The smaller the sweet spot, the more difficult it will be to hit the ball perfectly off the club face. So if you're looking for more power from your woods, or more workability (the ability to put draw or fade on a ball) from an iron, you'll take a hit to your sweet spot. Of course, if you tune down these aspects, you'll gain a bigger sweet spot as a result.

Club tuning isn't just about tuning your clubs for better attributes; if for whatever reason you consistently hit the ball left, you can adjust your clubs so that they'll have a right directional balance, thus offsetting your bad habit. The more advanced equipment you're rolling with, the bigger adjustments you'll be able to make when tuning, and as a result, you'll need to retune your clubs whenever you upgrade your equipment. Granted, the whole club-tuning feature isn't exactly the most realistic feature, but with a little time spent on the different sliders, it seems as if you'll be able to make some significant improvements to your game.

Last year's Tiger saw the introduction of the Gamernet feature, which let players upload trick shots and completed challenges to a central server for downloading by other Tiger 08 players. This year, the Gamernet feature returns with a slicker integration into the overall package in Tiger 09. When you're ready to tee off, a random Gamernet challenge will appear associated with this hole, which you can then try to beat if you like. Should you best the challenge, you'll be able to upload your new challenge to the Gamernet servers, and also earn Gamernet points in the process. Another online feature is simultaneous play, in which up to four players can play together simultaneously, with no waiting in-between shots. If you finish the hole before your friend, you can go to the scorecard and wait for the next hole to launch, or go to spectator mode and taunt your friend during his or her backswing (we prefer the latter option).

Thanks to the new club-tuning feature, even the 17th at Sawgrass can be just a little less intimidating.

Beyond those new features, Tiger 09 will include five new courses: Bay Hill, Gary Player Country Club, Sheshan, Wentworth, and the impressive Wolf Creek. Unfortunately, the total course count will still be set at 16 for the game, given that the new courses are coming in the place of some older ones. That said, the courses that are in the game--including standards such as Pebble Beach and Sawgrass--will all benefit from a graphical overhaul that will include better lighting, revamped hole layouts (where applicable), and a seemingly brighter color palette. New PGA Tour golfers in the game include Se Ri Pak, Nick Doherty, Darren Clarke, and Rory McElroy.

The development team behind the Tiger series seems perpetually looking to strike a balance between creating a challenging golf game that plays like the real thing and not alienating golf fans who might not have hardcore skills on the sticks. New tools in Tiger 09 like the club tuning and dynamic attributes aim to help find that balance, and we'll be keeping our eyes on the game's progress throughout the summer.

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Discussion

29 comments
KnottyMars
KnottyMars

this game is riddled with errors, now EA is asking its customers to gather information for a patch, WTF!! I wont be buying another EA game no matter how good it might seem. If I wanted to fix bugs and gather info, I would work for EA.

persia316
persia316

I agree with Gameboy2k. Why take away from a console that can hold more. The PS3 can have better graphics than the 360 version but I rather have more courses than looks first off. This is a waist of space on the Blu Ray disk. For that EA & other developers should just make PS3 games on DVD so I don't have to spend $60 on a game that I could just get the PS2 version for less & still get the same crap.

cypher787
cypher787

so are they gonna change the hideous controls from last year where you had almost no chance of hitting the ball staright that was the most horrible control scheme ever

crimped
crimped

wow, go back and try again? thanks mr mulligan. can i still control the ball while it's in the air? woooooo how about an idiot near the green yelling "get in the hole!" my god what is happening over at EA?

NovaSky
NovaSky

Kinda crazy that the series has been failing since 04, it seems everyone had that game. What I don't understand is why companies can update from what was already good instead of trying new stuff that they know might be a complete failure. I swear they do this on purpose.

megamaster32
megamaster32

Last year and the 06 was bad reasons some minor issues with putting breaks hope they fix that second I hope for more courses and more players third hope the club hitting will be less difficult

Batman0221
Batman0221

Still no Sergio Garcia!!?!!!?!?!!!

brettak81
brettak81

this game is gonna be good. definitely scoopin.

gruhlman
gruhlman

The only real issue I would like EA to address in their online gaming. What good is it to buy Tiger 09 if you are going to have the same problems connecting, being booted, and various other problem I have encounted online. Come on EA get your act together.

xtoda7
xtoda7

course architect please..I like the attribute idea.its a step in the right direction

Jeeesh
Jeeesh

I hope the club tuning can be toggled off for online play.

jazztrumpet5
jazztrumpet5

Welcome to Tiger Woods 04, ladies and gentlemen. Ooh, look, Hank Haney! Too bad the grass textures still suck and the arcadey gameplay hasn't changed since last gen.

yearofshorty
yearofshorty

if you don't want a ported game on your PS3..or Wii. try buying the Exclusive games. you don't need 32 courses. I was fine with the PS2's 04 with like what...15?

perfect_chao
perfect_chao

its not the 360's fault we have less courses, that is the worst excuse i have ever heard. there are not many FMV's in this game and that = alot less space, many ps3 games have FMV and its not even needed. Compression = the reason 360 is surviving so much and its flawless, its not disk space because ps3 would have more courses over 360.

Gameboy2k
Gameboy2k

@NND1. OK, point taken... but.... They took away courses. Why? If you have the power of the ps3's blue-ray disk, why subtract courses? You are not re-developing anything. How much of a big difference is there in the graphic looks of the courses. Look at Tiger woods 06-08. What big Jump do you see? I dont see lightyears in difference. My point is... stop subtracting the courses.

djballer24
djballer24

I liked everything about 08, but the analog hitting sucked. I hope they fix that in 09.

johnmetcalf
johnmetcalf

I will be happy if they fixed the control issues from last year. I'm usually 10 or 12 under par golfer in the game but the control last year sucked so badly. Ugh I'm having flash backs thinking about it some one help

NND1
NND1

More courses = More Dev. Time dont blame it on the box. If it was meant to be it would be. But since U R so impatient maybe YOU can make the next Tiger woods for PS3

Gameboy2k
Gameboy2k

For Christ's sake, we have Blu-Ray. The courses should be like 32. But, because of Xbox porting, we're limited. When will we open the true power of the PS3 Up? I"m getting impatient!!!!!!!!

volcomstoner180
volcomstoner180

lets hope this series gets back to where it used to be, 2004 was probably the peak last years sucked hardcore

jonzilla_basic
jonzilla_basic

Good Call Thomonji. I am sick of paying 60.00 updates. Its crazy. I love the Tiger Woods series and i used to buy one every year but they have just abused us greatly that i havent bought the last 3. 2006 really ticket me off.

thomanji
thomanji

Lets hope they have some attention to detail this time around and more then just a few free courses. I hope they show some respect to the people that buy a face lifted version every year and forge out $59, by giving us a solid number of courses whiteout sucking out another $4 for each additional course. Well, I guess I am to optimistic, in the end it is not about games or gamers but only to please the shareholders pockets. I will wait for the reviews and get a used copy a few months after.

Syliss
Syliss

just wait until hank says the same 5-10 things over and over and over...the glitches and lack of polish in the series lately has really been irritating me, I'll keep an eye on it and hope for the best...but this will be a delayed purchase at best

SNIPER-CAZ
SNIPER-CAZ

Looks and sounds cool, ill pick it up

dreadnought666
dreadnought666

"Zoomer30 Lets hope its good and lets hope EA at least tries to make the game run well on the PS3, I have my doubts." Tiger 08 runs and plays better on the PS3 then it does the 360, (see every review published last year) so lets hope EA tries to make it run well on the 360. I traded my 360 version in for the PS3 version and I still play it everyday online with no problems at all.

Zoomer30
Zoomer30

Lets hope its good and lets hope EA at least tries to make the game run well on the PS3, I have my doubts.