EAâ€™s latest version of ball-o-stick-o can be compared to the much underrated Xbox 360 shooter Shadowrun. No, Shadowrun doesnâ€™t feature a hidden golf mini-game (although Viva PiÃ±ata: Trouble in Paradise does – try knocking sweets into holes with the spade). But like Shadowrun, if you donâ€™t have your console connected to Xbox Live then youâ€™re going to miss out on the best bits.
Having ESPN Sports Radio pumped through your TV speakers as you play is just the tip of the iceberg. For a start, itâ€™s possible to take on and set challenges for other gamers to beat – like getting the ball near the hole or an impressive drive off the tee. Not only can you pick and choose challenges from a list, but they also pop up while playing in single player. New ones are being set all the time, and as they only last for 24 hours thereâ€™s always something new to have a crack at.
Then thereâ€™s the multiplayer mode, in which up to four players can play at the same time. You all tee off together, so you donâ€™t have to sit around watching your rivals fiddle with clubs and stuff. Everybodyâ€™s ball leaves a coloured trail, so you can see who has hit what ball where and such. It makes playing online a lot faster and more fluid.
This yearâ€™s big new feature is the ability to tinker with golf clubs to adjust the drive, speed, pitch and so forth. To beat some of the challenges youâ€™ll definitely need to spend some time here, but it is a little bit dull – you just have to adjust percentages and then test out the clubs on a driving range, though Tigerâ€™s coach Hank Haney is on hand to give tips and pointers. Funnily enough, dressing up in a pink bunny suit – which you can actually purchase – isnâ€™t one of his recommendations for improving your game.
Speaking of purchases, itâ€™s a bit of a cheek that it costs real money to buy some of the better clubs and equipment. But if youâ€™re stupid enough to do that then itâ€™s your fault.