If there is one thing I really enjoy doing after a session of Need for Speed: Shift or Resident Evil 5, it is to hit up the closed beta of Tiger Woods Online and play a couple of rounds of golf. Yes, I have been playing a golf game, and I am enjoying it. Tiger Woods Online is a free-to-play game from EA, in which you play some rounds of golf and improve your characters skills.
The closed beta features a nice variety of courses, I’m no golf expert but at the very least I recognise the famous St. Andrew’s course in Scotland. So far a couple of extra courses have been added to the game thanks to the willingness of the beta testers to complete several thousand rounds of golf within just a few days.
When I am out on the course with my nice bright cap I will generally find myself finishing around ten shots over par. This is because I will often skip the short introduction to each hole which informs you of the various hazards you will face, or I won’t pay attention to the win gauge and I will see my shot land with a gentle ‘plonk’ in the nearby river. I won’t talk about the sand traps or the number of times I have found myself stuck trying to hit a ball out of a massive thorny bush.
The simplest way of playing involves the so called ‘three-click-swing’ where you measure your power and accuracy along the bar on the bottom of the screen. Being an online game though, if you are experiencing some lag you will often find yourself badly miss-timing your clicks and hooking a shot deep into the rough. The other way to play is ‘true-swing’ which involves you moving your mouse with enough gusto and the right direction to get the ball to go where you want. I personally find myself sticking to the three click system.
As I indicated earlier, you can develop the skills of your golfer, you can improve your driving power and accuracy, purchase more putt previews which show you where you putt will go and even buy new shots like the chip, flop or punch. Unfortunately you aren’t able to punch your invisible caddy or break your clubs over you knee. You can develop skills by completing different challenges on each course, score your first birdie or finish under par earn you big bucks. Smaller things like subsequent birdies, getting to the green within a set number of shots and others earn you smaller amounts of money.
There is also a strong community element to the game, you can join or create groups which allow you to keep track of what your friends are up to and try to become the best group in the game. Daily and weekly tournaments are also present for players of varying skill levels in which you compete for big prizes.
It may not make up for the lack of a proper retail PC release of a new Tiger Woods game for some, but the new Online version looks very promising, there are issues which have to be resolved, namely shot lag and various other bugs that users have spotted. It will be interesting to see how EA monetise the game and how many more courses and features are added before it goes public. I for one will carry on playing, even if it is simply to relax after a hard day blasting zombies.