Tiger Woods PGA Tour 11
|Xbox 360||PlayStation 3|
|Surround Support||Dolby Digital||Dolby Digital, 5.1LPCM, Dolby Digital|
It's been a while since we've taken a look at the EA Sports cross-platform output, but generally speaking there's a definite sense that the firm has got its act together across its entire range of titles. Indeed, with regards the Tiger Woods PGA Tour series, it's fair to say that EA has achieved close to platform parity right from the very beginning. So has the company managed to sustain this with the new game?
The answer is a very qualified "yes", but the times they are a-changing and within months it may well be the case that one platform offers a tangibly different, better experience - and that's all down to the arrival of motion control on the HD platforms. In the here and now though, we have close to the same game graphically, with the major difference between the two versions coming down to the make-up of their respective analogue sticks.
Graphical differences are slight, but still apparent to the trained eye. The only real surprise is that there are any at all bearing in mind that Tiger Woods PGA Tour 11 looks so dated. However, the differences are there: foliage on PlayStation 3 uses the inferior alpha test transparency technique whereas the Xbox 360 version uses alpha blend instead, while textures at close range appear to be higher resolution in places on the Microsoft console too. This difference in particular is not especially apparent in general gameplay however.
Both versions are operating at native 720p, but curiously, there is no anti-aliasing at all - bearing in mind that the game has often static scenes that will attract a longer than average gaze, this is somewhat bewildering. Shadowing is also slightly different between the two consoles, softer on PS3 and more defined on 360. It's not exactly a major point but when the major source of light here is the sun, the decision to opt for softer shadows in the glare of full-on daylight is a bit odd.
Otherwise we're at even-stevens - performance analysis is basically a waste of time for a golf title as it'll have next to no relevance on the gameplay experience, but for the record both versions are essentially locked at 30FPS. The major differentiating factor here is really how you get on with the analogue pads on each of the consoles' controllers: personally I found my shots to be somewhat wilder and off-target on the more loose Dual Shock 3, but obviously your mileage will vary.
Control remains an issue going forward too - crucially so. Sony was happy to invite EA to showcase Move support for Tiger Woods PGA Tour 11 during its E3 conference, and the lack of a Kinect equivalent being shown or even announced during the event was telling. Follow-up prodding of EA PR thus far hasn't yielded any further information on whether Microsoft's motion control system will play host to the Woodsman.
Owners of the recent Wii titles utilising MotionPlus will most likely attest to the additional level of realism, authenticity and basic fun that 1:1 control mapping lends to the game. Move support will almost certainly do likewise for the PS3, but Kinect's mapping of the entire human body may require far more in the way of additional engineering, and may not even be possible with the current Microsoft tools: developer sources tell us that Kinect dev tools in their current form have some issues in sustaining reliable tracking when you're facing the camera side-on: clearly that's going to have a big impact on the average golf game.
So, in the here and now, 360 has a wafer-thin graphical advantage that will go unnoticed by the vast majority but as a personal preference I found accuracy to be higher using the Microsoft pad over the Dual Shock 3. But up against 1:1 Move support, chances are that the PS3 version with its upcoming free upgrade will prove to be the better golfing experience.
Looking forward though, there's a clear sense that the "evolution, not revolution" approach to the series is in danger of making the whole franchise somewhat moribund, as Dan Whitehead explains in the original Eurogamer review. The look and feel of the game is rooted in the past and while game engines are becoming ever-more complex and graphically impressive, Tiger Woods feels as though it's a generation or two behind.
One of the comments in the EG review talks about CryEngine 3 being utilised for a new golfing title. Now that's something I'd love to see...
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