Now, EA has made several changes to the controls, and some of them are very sensible. The return of a classic three-click swing option will be music to the ears of veteran video-game golfers, some of whom have never been won over by the more intuitive and natural analogue swing method. You can now choose to draw and fade shots while aiming, and this does make a difference when you face a foreboding dog-leg or a menacing patch of water to the left or right of a skinny-looking fairway.
Best of all, you get a once-per-shot chance to see a preview of the line of your next putt, based on the angle and maximum power of your current selected stroke. It’s not available in the highest difficulty mode, and some players are going to call it cheating, but for me it makes the game more enjoyable as a whole. Time and time again in previous Tigers I’ve found it impossible to read the greens, or been surprised by a putt that goes horribly wrong. The preview allows you to make a final, last-minute change to your stroke, and takes an awful lot of on-the-green misery out of the game.
Sadly, what EA Sports giveth with one hand, it taketh away with the other. For one thing, the sensitivity of the analogue swing seems to have been tampered with, making it easier to fluff a long-distance drive or cheeky chip, and making the results more disastrous when that happens. Combine this with the way that low skills affect distance and accuracy, and you have a game that some newcomers – and even some old hands – will find hard to get a grip on.
Combine this with the new confidence system, which effectively tracks your performance on different kinds of shot, then makes it easier to pull off shots you do well on, and harder to pull off the shots you regularly fail on, and you have a recipe for a lot of off-the-green misery. Bizarrely, we have a system here that, as far as I can see, makes the life of bad players harder and the life of good players easier. What’s more, the game seems peculiarly tight on what constitutes out of bounds, meaning one bad shot can rapidly transform into a nightmare.
On the upside, once you get the hang of all this and get your confidence moving in the right direction, the 08 update has more than ever before to keep keen players swinging for months on end. Going from 12 to 16 courses is clearly a good thing, even if it means losing Turnberry; 07’s stormy, rugged coastal course that made such a nice contrast to all the dominant green grass and sunshine. There’s a fun new play mode – Bingo, Bango, Bongo – and simply more to see and do than ever before.
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