Tiger Woods PGA Tour Updated Impressions

EA shows off the new online tournament feature in its upcoming golf game.

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Tiger Woods PGA Tour 10
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Everyone loves competition, and the upcoming Tiger Woods PGA Tour 10 for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 will be bringing some brand-new ways to compete against friends (and strangers) online. Yesterday, at EA's pre-E3 press event, the publisher showed off the new online tournament feature that looks set to be one of the centerpieces of the game's online feature set.

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Online tournaments will come in three flavors in Tiger 10: daily, weekly, and play the pros. In all tournament modes, your goal will be to play and post the lowest round score possible to the online leaderboard. As the name implies, daily tournaments will last only 24 hours and will typically allow only one submission. On the other hand, weekly tourneys will last seven days, and like a PGA Tour event, they'll typically involve entrants submitting four rounds of scores. The players with the best score at the end of a tournament will win purse money, much like real golfers do on the Tour.

Those winnings aren't just a measure of your skill as a golfer; they can also be spent to submit additional rounds to specific tournaments. For instance, let's say you've already played and submitted a score for a particular daily tournament but, after playing the course again, you shoot a career-low score. You can choose to submit your improved score--at the cost of some career earnings--which will then replace your previous entry. The cost of entering an extra score can be hefty, but the potential for winning a tournament--or at least placing high on the leaderboard--might just earn you enough money to cover your costs and then some.

Daily and weekly tournaments are split up by difficulty level, and there are four levels to choose from: beginner, amateur, pro, and tour pro. So what's to stop some online Tiger freak from coming in and ruining a beginners tournament? The developers at EA Tiburon have been working to prevent that with a player-ranking system that will measure your skill in the game and assign it a number. If your ranking is too high for a certain skill level, you'll have to enter into the next-highest difficulty level. In addition, the developers have come up with a tiebreaker formula calculated at the end of rounds. Given that many people online will shoot the same score, the formula takes into account how you played (the number of greens in regulation, number of putts, and so on) to calculate your round score. Among players who shoot a similar score, the player with the highest tiebreaker score will be ranked above those below.

For daily and weekly tournaments, you'll be playing against all of the other Tiger 10 players out there who submit scores online. The third tournament type, play the pros, will find you comparing your virtual game in Tiger to real-life pros on the PGA Tour. During these events, you'll be able to keep up with golfers in more or less real time as they play their Thursday-through-Sunday rounds; if Tiger Woods hits an eagle on a par 5 on the same hole you're playing, you'll be updated in-game as it happens (or soon thereafter).

Considering that not every course on the PGA Tour is found in Tiger 10, the developers will be creating specific tournament courses based on similar holes from courses found in the game; when the Masters rolls around next year, it will be interesting to see the hodgepodge of holes and courses that the developers come up with to match Augusta National.

Before entering a tournament, you might want to spend some time in the new Practice mode. Here, you can practice your virtual swing on any hole in the game. Once you load up a course, you can choose to drop your ball anywhere on the course and take as many shots from that spot as you like. You can even use the club-tuning feature--introduced last year--in Practice mode to get the most out of every round.

Finally, EA revealed the full course list in Tiger 10. Among the 16 courses in the game, five will be new: Turnberry (home of this year's British Open), Bethpage Black (home of this year's U.S. Open), Oakmont, Hazeltine, and Torrey Pines. The other 11 courses: Bay Hill, Firestone, Pinehurst No. 2, East Lake, Pebble Beach, TPC Sawgrass, Saint Andrews, Doral, Wentworth, Harbor Town, and TPC Boston. If the past is any example, there will be more courses available postlaunch as downloadable content, but only for those willing to shell out the cash.

Tiger Woods PGA Tour 10 is scheduled for release on June 8. For more coverage on the game, stay tuned to the GameSpot sports blog in the coming weeks.

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