As with Tiger Woods 08, you can still import your own face into the game via uploaded photo or USB camera (the Xbox Live Vision camera for 360 owners). That means that if you’ve always wanted to see what you’d look like punching the air or shouting ‘get in your home’ in an irritating American accent, your dreams have just come true. In case you’re wondering, that’s my way of suggesting that a greater range of voices and animations might be nice.
Now for the really good news. When you start a career your golfer is no longer painfully rubbish. Instead, the game arranges a quick test of your Tiger Woods skills then presents you with a set of attributes for driving, pitching and putting that go up and down as you play. You can now, if you want, take your new golfer straight out onto the PGA Tour and have a decent shot at making it into the top ten in your first tournament, and there’s no need to put your golfer through the alternative Tiger Challenge mode first. This works brilliantly.
The Tiger Challenge itself now provides you with a brilliant set of challenges that test you on all areas of your game, including some excellent three to five hole one-on-one matches. The gimmicks and the mini-games have gone, and what you’re left with is some great ‘light bite’ golfing for those times when you haven’t got the stomach for the main course of a PGA Tour tournament. Your skills still go up and down according to your performance in either mode, but generally Tiger Woods 09 seems to have a more positive feedback loop, where the more you play the better you get.
It helps that the controls are an awful lot better this time around. The analogue swing system is no longer absurdly sensitive, and the addition of a real-time shot meter makes it much, much easier to see where your swing is going wrong. The classic three shot system is still there for traditionalists, and while most of us would rather play with the putt preview and power boost systems switched on, you can opt out of these if you’d rather have a more realistic golf sim.