YOU HAD to feel sorry for those professional golfers.
The poor guys had to endure five days of torrential rain at the U.S. Open. Mother Nature wreaked havoc on the championship, drenching the greens and forcing players to sit through deluges and delays. They basically played on a course that was under water. On the other hand, I was playing the same Bethpage Black course and staying dry in the comfort of my own home.
Thank God for the joys of modern video games.
Playing "Tiger Woods PGA Tour 10" on the Wii, I experienced a few rounds at one of the nation's most famous public courses without catching a drop of water or pneumonia.
Of course, there were some differences. I played with a controller and the new Wii MotionPlus peripheral instead of golf clubs. Otherwise, it was a convincing simulation of the New York green.
With "PGA Tour 10," EA Tiburon created the most realistic-feeling golf experience on a console. Most of this is because of the new device that comes packed in with some versions of the game. It adds more fidelity when the system reads gestures. With the Wii MotionPlus, the console can translate one-to-one movement almost perfectly.
This means that how players swing a golf club is as essential as ever, but more important, it rids the franchise of more annoying control issues. In previous iterations, "Tiger Woods" on the Wii had controls that weren't reliable.
Often, I would inadvertently move my Wii remote and the game would read it as a full swing. I'd end up in the rough or the water, and I would blurt out words that would make a sailor blush.
Now "PGA Tour 10" works so smoothly that it's the closest thing to playing golf without stepping on grass.
Players have a bevy of options to choose from. They can play instantly as Tiger Woods, which is almost like "a video game cheat code," as Shaquille O'Neal would say. They can choose to play Disc Golf, a similar game using a Frisbee instead of a club and ball. There's even a Golf Party mode, where friends compete in minigames based on the sport.
These are good options if players have casual fans around, but the more serious gamers will focus on a robust career mode and challenging online play. In My Career, players create a character and put him through a series of events so that eventually they can win endorsements and enter real-life tournaments such as the U.S. Open.
Each time they place or win in contests, players receive experience points to upgrade their character, giving them more power to hit longer drives or improved putting. In addition, players also earn money to buy better clubs or new clothing.
At first, the going is tough. It takes a while to hit straight drives without unintentionally fading or drawing a shot, and putting, just like in real life, is maddeningly difficult.
In both cases, players must have enough muscle memory to know exactly how hard and accurately to swing. They'll also have to adjust their aim and shot type depending on the wind conditions and weather. Just to show that this isn't a complete simulation, fans will be able to control the spin on a ball by hitting a directional pad button and shaking the Wii remote.
I placed at the bottom in my first matches, but eventually, I improved by playing the Tournament Challenge, a mode where players try to one-up or match historic feats. For example, players will have to finish with a flourish at Pebble Beach just like Tiger Woods did in 2000. Beating these challenges offers nearly the same upgrades as winning a match, but players don't have to invest the time playing 18 holes.
If golf fans think their game is top-notch, they can duel challengers online in head-to-head matches or live tournaments. If they feel particularly good, they can compete against pros when they play in real-life tournaments. Mimicking the same conditions as real-time tournaments, I tried to top Lucas Glover in the U.S. Open, but without the computer-assists, I had a hard time competing. I barely made bogey on each hole.
So other than making millions of dollars, I suppose talent is another thing separating me from the best golfers in the world this weekend. But I don't mind. At least, I was able to stay out of the rain.