For all the stick that EA Sports takes for clinging to formula in its annual updates, when it chooses to innovate it does so in big, bold strokes. Few, for example, would have expected the next iteration of its Tiger Woods franchise to be a massively multiplayer online browser game, nor would you expect a game from such a notoriously corporate publisher to allow casual players to enjoy themselves without ever putting a coin in the EA coffers. Yet here it is: Tiger Woods, online and (mostly) free.
Marking the series' return to the PC for the first time since 2007, it's impressive just how much of the game has been squeezed into this web version. The elements that have been trimmed away are generally those added over the last few years for the console market. The ability to boost your drives or nudge the ball in mid-air with button mashing probably won't be missed by die-hard golf fans, and despite the none-more-casual browser game format, this is very much a game for those who take the fairway seriously.
Once you've installed the Unity Player plugin, created a free account and built a golfer from a sadly limited palette of four male heads, you're given $10,000 in virtual dollars to spend in the Pro Shop, and left to explore Tiger's virtual offering. A giant red button marked PLAY NOW entices you to skip past the peripheral options and hit the links, and it's foolish to resist.
EA's new browser-powered game Tiger Woods PGA Tour Online is not free to play. Instead, you'll be able to pick from a variety of payment options.
Timing its swing to perfection to match the disgraced champion's return to the sport, EA Sports has officially launched Tiger Woods PGA Tour Online.
The free-to-play, browser-based golf game is still technically in beta, but is now open to all. You can sign up and give it a go at the game's website.
The game boasts single, multiplayer and tournament modes and can be suspended and resumed at any time you like.
EA has decided to stick with Tiger Woods, announcing a new PGA Tour 11 game for release this summer.
While EA is publicly backing Tiger Woods, the publisher is reportedly polling people to see whether the golfer's infamous "mistakes off the course", to borrow Peter Moore's phrase, will affect sales of its games.
EA Sports has said it will stick with Tiger Woods as its golf series front man despite the three-time grand slam winner's "mistakes off the course".
EA has announced Tiger Woods PGA Tour Online for PC and Mac, due out this autumn, which will be playable through a web browser.
TWPTO will start out with Pebble Beach, TPC Sawgrass and St. Andrews courses and others will be added regularly thereafter.
There will be tournaments and community features, and the game can be suspended and resumed at any point, allowing for quick dips in and out at work or wherever.