Earlier today in San Francisco, EA held its EA Sports Season Opener to give the gaming press a chance to see some of the biggest sports titles on the horizon. Few games in EA's stable of sports games are as big as Tiger Woods, so with a new entry in the franchise having been officially announced just this morning, today was a prime opportunity to show off what's in store for Tiger fans. We took a look at a handful of new features, and though light on major gameplay details, our time revealed a few interesting bits of information.
The three main points that EA is letting slip on Tiger 10 right now are the new real-time weather, an improved presentation, and a new putting system. We'll start with the weather. You can elect to enable a setting in the game that pulls real-time weather data from Weather.com, and any course you're currently playing on will reflect those same conditions. So if you're playing in Bethpage State Park while it's raining in the real Nassau County, that ugly weather will affect the way you're playing a round of golf on your living room couch. Balls that would normally cruise along the fairway will only trudge if enough water is on the grass, and an extra bit of oomph is needed while putting to get the ball through that layer of water.
The game's improved presentation is visible (and audible) in a few different ways. The obvious one is that Scott Van Pelt has joined the announcer's booth, but you'll also see an added level of tournament-style touches to the game's courses. Crowd sizes have tripled, and you can hear the distant applause on a nearby hole if another golfer sinks a particularly nice ball. Also, more digital scoreboards and TV towers litter the courses while you're taking part in the PGA Tour. These are small touches, but they're certainly something golf fanatics are likely to pick up on.
Finally, there's the new putting system. EA is calling it Precision Putting, and it essentially takes the dynamic feedback system you get while driving a ball with the analog stick and applies it to the short game. While you're on the green, you'll see a tall rectangle on the screen with a yellow bar at some point within to indicate how far back on the analog stick you need to pull before pushing it forward again. A yellow tracer follows the club icon to let you know how true your path is, and if it's veering a bit too much to either side when you're swinging. It feels very similar to the driving system, which makes things a bit more tricky than simply pressing a few buttons at the right moment to get a good swing, but it's also something that should provide more rewards for advanced players. That said, novice players can turn it off and return to the old putting system.
The look we had at Tiger 10 wasn't as extensive as we'd have liked, but it left us feeling positive just the same. We should have more on new courses, players, online features, and everything else Tiger fans want to see in the very near future. In the meantime, you can expect to see the game arrive in stores on June 16.