Community Blog: Total Swing Control

Hey Tiger Woods PGA TOUR fans!  My name is Fred Parrow but you may know me better by my user tag “Oblong”.  I have been an avid video game golfer for decades and I am also a member of the EA SPORTS Game Changers program.  I recently had the opportunity to visit the EA Tiburon studios in Orlando, Florida to get an early look at Tiger Woods PGA TOUR 13.  It hasn’t been easy keeping all the new features a secret since then so I’m really excited to finally spill some beans on what the Tiger Woods PGA TOUR development team has been cooking up for the next release arriving at the end of March.

You will be hearing all the details of the new features over the coming weeks but none has me as excited as the first one we can fully reveal now…Total Swing Control.   Fan polls have placed swing redesign as a top priority for some time.  It has been nearly 10 years since the only significant change to the swing mechanic occurred when the game phased out the 3-click swing and went to an analog swing via the thumbstick.  So while a change was long overdue, the real question is does it also move the game forward and make playing more fun?  Having tried it myself, I can emphatically say YES!  The new dynamics of making shots not only immerses you deeper into game play - it also properly rewards (or penalizes) you based on how well YOU perform the shot.   Translating the complexities of a golf swing onto a controller now feel more in tune with each other.  Simply put, the game “feels” more like golf!

Arriving at EA Tiburon studios, the developers provided a short presentation highlighting all the new features they were working on.  After that I spent the remainder of the week playing the game and bouncing feedback back and forth with the Tiger Woods PGA TOUR development team.  My very first impression was that while the game looked like a Tiger Woods PGA TOUR golf game, it didn’t play like the ones I’ve come to know over the years.  The new Swing Mechanic instantly makes a huge impact on how you play and could be something that takes a long time to perfect…if perfection is even possible!  The best way I can explain how this changes the game is that gameplay is now more about how you execute your shot via timing, tempo, and ball striking rather than prior versions where it came down to who could do the best math to line up a shot and then simply flick a thumbstick.

 Total Swing Control allows for many gameplay features of past versions that may not have been completely true to the real sport of golf to be put to rest.  Tapping for extra power?  Gone! (Overswing adds extra power).  Calculating and performing percentage shots?  Forget about it! (Shot executing over math).  Focus and random landing? Goodbye and reduced to a whimper! (You control where the ball lands).  Club tuner?  See ya’ later! (Performance comes down to shot execution).  While those old items have become obsolete, the all-new Total Swing Control now opens the door for some great new features to be ushered in.  Along with controlling the tempo and timing of your swing, you also have the ability to control whether you hit the ball with a high or low trajectory using the Strike Meter (right thumbstick).  This allows you to produce anything from Tiger’s low stinger drive to a high flop shot out of a bunker.  The amount of creativity you can employ when taking shots is literally endless and what makes it all even more exciting is that the new golfer animations, ball flight animations, and physics will give you a matching onscreen visualization of exactly the type of shot you design!

While sampling the game, I found myself not only asking myself new questions on how I might play a shot, but also dealing with some real pressure to actually pull off those intentions.  Playing golf is now truly dependent on how you design and play your shots by merging combinations of strike meter, tempo and swing length.   It affects every facet of the game from the tee to the green.  At times, off the tee, I found myself considering trying a more difficult low hooking drive in a heavy headwind to gain some extra distance.  When faced with a tree in my way I now felt in total control of my shot trajectory so I could properly decide whether to go over, under, or around it.  Off the green for a pitch or chip, I could actually choose my landing spot and rollout distance based on how I set up my shot.  Even putting is affected by the new mechanic with distance and pace controlled by the length of your swing arc as well as tempo. 

You feel true ownership with each of the shots you perform and when you botch a shot you are given instant feedback on why you failed.  I spent a significant portion of my time with the game using mulligans to just see how many different ways I could hit the same shot!  The possibilities appear to be endless.  In fact, if you aren’t careful you can actually sky a ball, hit a worm burner, or even whiff the ball completely!

Now I can almost already hear some potential groans from those who have always enjoyed playing Tiger Woods PGA TOUR golf in a more arcade fashion.  While reading this they may come to the conclusion that on the easier modes all these changes to the swing are going to make “holing-out” nearly impossible.  That is not the case at all.  What the development team has done is toned-down the mishit potential in tempo and timing allowing the game to continue to have a very intuitive and forgiving swing mechanic for both the newcomer and seasoned veteran.  On the harder simulation difficulties precision is of utmost importance and users will find making a “perfect” swing about as common as they would in real golf…as in almost never!

One final note, as exciting as Total Swing Control may sound and you may not truly be able to fully appreciate it until you actually get to try it yourself…it could all be for naught unless I also address a pressing question in the minds of many.  Fellow gamers, you asked and EA SPORTS has delivered…the caddy featured introduced in last year’s game will be OPTIONAL in Tiger Woods PGA Tour 13.  It can be turned off in every mode of play – offline and/or online.  :D

For more information about the new swing mechanic please visit the EA SPORTS Tiger Woods golf community forum where I'll be happy to answer questions you have regarding this game changing new feature for the series.  You can also follow me on Twitter @xoblongx.

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