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Tiger Woods 10 for PSP is a mini version of the 360 and PS3 versions with a handfull of gameplay additions. With true to life highs and lows of real golf, there are moments of joy and wonder but somehow parts of the game feel vapid and empty.
As somebody who used to play golf avidly as a teenager I have a fascination with golf games, Since then, I have found my golfing home on the 360 and PS3 but this time I'm trying my hand at the portable version on PSP.
I have to admit, at first I was sceptical on how it would play, Tiger Woods 10 uses the tiny analogue nub to swing the clubs. Pulling back on the stick starts the backswing and pushing forward sharply follows through, striking the ball. At first I was slicing the ball left and right, pushing it into bunkers and out of bounds, but after time I got used to how the nub moved and began playing better.
When the controls work though, playing like a pro feels magnificent.
Playing through the first course led to increasing frustration, at times the controls don't feel awfully responsive. There are times when I could swear I shot a straight ball and it would push or pull to the sides, but at other moments I know the ball was going out of bounds but the game played the shot straight. With such infrequent controls I was left wondering whether to take risky shots for the fear that the ball would end up in a river.
When the controls work though, playing like a pro feels magnificent. There's a sense of satisfaction watching the ball sail through the air and bounce gently along the fairway. This feeling continues while the ball plays well, giving the feeling of truly hitting marvellous shots on each hole. Chipping in shots from the edge of the green and straight into the cup, sinking my first eagle, even a hole in one, all highlights that actually had me jumping for joy.
The downside to these moments of glee is that it tends to be a lonely experience. Usually anytime I play a Tiger Woods game on 360 my wife will often sit with me and watch, sometimes playing herself. She cheers when I do well and 'boos' when I miss the green or land in a bunker. Due to this version being on a handheld, those moments of pride are short-lived as I wait for the verbal pat on the back and realise that only I had the chance to see it.
When the game played well, I felt on top of the world.
Despite thinking the game is actually a well accomplished simulation of golf, it makes me feel very empty. There are no crowds cheering me on - a downer for someone like me who thinks sport is about competition and displaying talent. I enjoy being surrounded by crowds, having the feeling that people have come out to see me, but hitting the links here feels like playing in a ghost town.
There are also horrible mini games that pull me away from playing; the game uses a confidence system that helps when striking the ball, however hitting several bad shots lowers the confidence and the caddy jumps in and interrupts the game dragging me to a mini game.
These minigames consist of picking up leaves from the ground, signing autographs, picking fans from a fictional, nonexistent crowd and more, but this is dragging me away from playing through the course, ruining the flow of the game. If anything, stopping for these mini games was more distracting than hitting a tree as I had to wait impatiently until I was returned to the game.
Golf games usually allow me to relax and interact with family and friends; this version of Tiger Woods doesn't deliver that experience. My wife tried to participate by watching the replays of my shots but couldn't get as enthusiastic as normal, actually asking me why I couldn't just play the 360 version. When the game played well, I felt on top of the world, but I was quickly brought back down to Earth by the cold feeling of the interaction and the lack of atmosphere.
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