Sign on with the Yanks or the Euros and battle for the Ryder Cup. (Credit: EA Sports)
Most of the feature set here is very similar to that found in Tiger Woods 10. All of the Career, Season, and multiplayer modes (multiplayer crowds are a little sparse right now, which is odd considering the number of tournament events that EA is sponsoring and how last year's game had such a big online following) have returned. Nifty party games have also returned, like disc golf, which is now available online and off. Career play remains a bit frustrating in the beginning because you need to do some grinding in the skills competitions to get your pathetic starter stats to where they need to be to truly compete on the tour. A couple of dozen familiar pros and novelty characters still make up the standard roster of pros you can take onto the greens. Five new courses have been added in the likes of the Twenty Ten Course at Celtic Manor, Whistling Straits, The Old White Course at the historic Greenbrier, and the tropical fantasy course Predator, making for a total of 28. But four have been dropped, too, including Firestone and Riviera. Visuals and audio have been ported over from last year virtually intact. So courses are still a little rough and ready, with lots of jaggies and a lack of definition, especially when it comes to looking a couple of hundred yards down a fairway. As for the sound, the commentators still spew a few too many insults based on your performance and the music is really Muzak, although the thunk of a club hitting a ball continues to be very satisfying.
There are just a couple of truly noteworthy additions. The biggest is the Ryder Cup, which allows you to sign on with a US or European team during career play and shoot it out over international golfing supremacy. It's a nice extra, though it's more of a depth feature best suited to hardcore golf fans who actually know what the Ryder Cup is and not average virtual hackers just looking to clock birdies and win tournaments. The event also isn't all that realistically modeled because you're dealing with teams of 12 players a side, and there are just a couple of dozen golfers in the game. If you want to really fill out the squads, it's sometimes necessary to put Yanks in with the Euros, and vice versa. And the other addition is minigolf, an offline-only mode of play that joins disc golf in the small roster of golf party games. It isn't very good, though. Putting requires a lot of oomph, so you're practically driving the ball just to knock it along 50 feet of fake grass, and there are only four bland nine-hole courses to shoot, with few of the goofy obstacles that make minigolf so much fun.
Sadly, the visuals show no signs of improvement. (Credit: EA Sports)
In the end, Tiger Woods 11 is a better game than its predecessor, although only marginally. You can't help but feel a little let down that it doesn't knock you out of your spikes, too, especially because last year's effort set the bar incredibly high with all of its MotionPlus swing improvements. Still, this remains a great simulation of golf that has no equal and ranks alongside last year's game as two of the finest sports sims ever made.