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Tiger Woods Move extends the Wii-mote motion in impressive style. But around this swing mechanic it fails to attend to a host of hard-won design decisions on the Wii version that turned a gimmick into a genuine sporting experience. There's always next year.
Tiger Woods is a waiting game. I'm not talking about having the nerve to hold your shot average for the duration of a course, but the time it has taken for EA to deliver their motion controlled promises.
Tiger 07 on the Wii was a revelation that proved the viability of a real golf swing in a videogame. Everything else simply felt wrong after that. But it took four long years of before they delivered the de facto version in Tiger 11 (Wii).
But even though I've stuck with the Wii version through its various frustrations, I've always hankered after those next generation visuals and game play features on the 360 and PS3.
Hearing about a PS3 Move edition - that makes use not only of the Wii-like accelerometers and gyroscopes but also Move's depth sensing camera - it seemed I could finally have my cake and eat it. Nuanced controls learning from all those Wii misdemeanours twinned with next generation visuals.
It's to EA's credit that you don't have to buy a new version for the Move controlled game. Like Heavy Rain, Tiger Woods 11 on the PS3 has been updated to be ready for the new Move controller (ed: surely there's a better name for it - Wand, Move-mote, Movenator?).
Here though is the first warning sign. Like early Wii third party games, the Move controls have been added in after the main development. Not surprising for Heavy Rain, but EA's success with Wii specific development for Madden, FIFA and Tiger should have taught them something about how to get gesture controls right.
This is very much Wii territory, but here the visuals look crisp.
Getting started with the Move enabled Tiger Woods took a little head scratching. I seemingly had to jump into an options menu and manually go and select the Move controller for each player. This I soon did and jumped into some match play.
Any golfer will tell you, the most important part of the game is the swing. Develop or discover a player with a natural ability to hit the ball and the rest of the game can be built around them. Happily, Tiger Woods Move gets this spot on.
There's a familiarity to the one-to-one movement of the on-screen player and the controller. This is very much Wii territory, but here the visuals look crisp and the awkward manikin like players have been replaced by broadcast quality representations of each player.
It took some time to adjust to Move's addition of depth to the controls - the PS3 knows where the controller is in 3D space as well as its angle and direction of travel. This means you need to be a bit more accurate with both Drivers and Irons. It's possible to scuff or miss the ball if you are not paying attention.
The Move mechanic, although more accurate, is less malleable - you end up changing your swing to fit the game rather than working with it.
There is the same steep learning curve to attune yourself to the controller as there is with the Wii, although for my money the Move mechanic, although more accurate, is less malleable - you end up changing your swing to fit the game rather than working with it.
It's also odd that there is no first person view for this style of control. I've really become accustomed top the extra realism this offers on the Wii, and am pleased to see it feature in John Daly's ProStroke Golf another Move enabled golf game.
But it's the interface around the swing that really fall flat. Although you can achieve the majority of interactions with just the Move controller it is painful. Even aiming your tee shot down the fairway is a struggle. Rather than the precise controls offered by the Wii-Mote's D-Pad, here you have to nudge your player with a left/right motion until they are in the right direction. It's vague and infuriating.
There are also other aspects of the game, like applying spin and using the 360/PS3 specific shot focus features, that you simply can't access with using the Move controller. It wouldn't be so bad if the game didn't continue to prompt you to use these features.
Grabbing a Navigation or standard PS3 controller solves this of course. You are instantly back in the world of precise controls and navigatable menus.
Grabbing a Navigation or standard PS3 controller solves this of course. You are instantly back in the world of precise controls and navigatable menus. But this also dispels all that magic they have worked so hard (ed: or not quite hard enough?) to create.
In the end Tiger Woods Move made me want to do one thing - go and play some more Tiger on the Wii. And when I did I was surprised to see how close the two versions were visually. What used to be a big gap in fidelity has now closed considerably - apart from the native resolution .
Tiger Woods Move takes me back to the days of waiting for the next release to see if EA get it right. And like then, I'm once again hopeful that Tiger Woods 12 PS3 will deliver the goods. But unlike then, I already have a masterly motion controlled version in my hands already - the Wii version - and a new experience to try with John Daly's ProStroke Golf.
The lack of a D-pad on the PS3 Move controller could be limit the technology as a whole.
Regardless of the peculiarities of development cycles that have no doubt impacted on how limited the integration of the new controller is in this version of Tiger, it is interesting that the lack of a D-pad on the PS3 Move controller could be such a limited oversight in the technology as a whole.
As I've said elsewhere, the magic of motion controls is the magical ability they offer to play a game with just gestures and buttons. Swapping back and forth between different control artifacts undermines any suspension of disbelief the technology has been able to establish, and turns what should be magical into an pedestrian experience.
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