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By Thomas McKinnon 6 October 2008

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EA Sports’ annual releases are often claimed to be cash cows which differ only slightly, if at all, from the previous year’s release. The Tiger Woods PGA Tour series is just one example of many. On the surface TW 09 bears a striking resemblance to TW 08 and this may rile a fan or two. We adopted a similar view on the game but upon closer inspection were thrilled to discover that 09 is in fact a whole other ball game. EA have been busy tweaking and redeveloping TW 09 over the last year and it certainly shows.

TW 09’s controls are not far different from TW 08’s. They are, however, far more forgiving, toning down on the propensity of a poor shot to cut or slice in wild directions. TW 09 also offers two options for playing a shot. You can make use of the analogue sticks to strike the ball or the more traditional and slightly easier three-button press option. This means that the game is more versatile and far more enjoyable to play especially for newbies.

As ever, improving your game is the over-riding objective of Tiger Woods PGA Tour. In this year’s version it is that much easier to enhance your performance with every passing round. For instance Tiger Wood’s coach, Hank Haney, makes his debut appearance to offer you training in four distinct areas (power, accuracy, short game and putting) after every round. There is also a club tuner and real-time swing meter that will ensure you quickly and noticeably up you skill level.

The stand out feature of TW 09 is its online interface with support for both Xbox Live and the PlayStation Network. You can either play challenges, in which you earn points with the aim of outscoring opponents, or play matches, matching you up against 3 online players. The best part is that all participants play simultaneously which really lifts the pace of the game.

The solo player mode and challenges are as fantastic as the rest of the game. Our only complaints involve the lack of a really challenge in the putting and the shortage of courses. Although the inclusion of the Gary Player Country Club is a nice touch.

PROS
The control system is an improvement over last year and the dynamic skill progression system works well.
CONS
You still can???t skip the CPU golfers and there are fewer new courses that we would have liked.
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