So what’s the lowdown, you ask? Well, Tiger Woods Online (TWO) is a browser-based online (full screen, decent graphics – think FreeRealms) golfing game, that’s free-to-play. It runs on an optional cash shop model but, rest assured, it’s entirely possible to experience the entire game without ever spending a cent. The cash shop focus also means you won’t be bombarded with advertisements.
You create a character like any other MMO. Character creation is very limited, with less than five facial options for the male avatars. Really though, it doesn’t much matter here. You’re a golfer. A human golfer, so customization isn’t going to be too high up on people’s radar for this one. You can choose the color patterns for your clothes too but that’s pretty much it.
Gameplay is surprisingly true to its console counter-parts. You have a selection of courses to play through and can do so single player, multiplayer, or in a tournament. If you’re playing for free, you’ll only have two courses available at any given time. All of the courses rotate, though, and each one is available for free at some point in the cycle. Unfortunately, I’m not sure how long it is between transitions, since I just found out about the game tonight.
You can freely switch between your clubs, shot type, ball positioning, direction, et cetera. The game also lets you zoom to the point your ball will land on a perfect hit, so you can better judge the distance each club will provide if you’re unfamiliar with the specifics of the sport. It also lets you choose between three different types of shot type, ranging from a “click-and-thrust” style to a “hit spacebar on the power meter” type. This game is easily accessible to newcomer of the series.
Tournament is probably the most interesting, since it allows you to really compete with your fellow player, but multiplayer is also great. You’ll make friends quick, as a sponsorship system allows you to “watch” up and coming players and capitalize on their success in the form of money and experience. No matter which game mode you choose, you’ll have a standard MMORPG chat window on the right side of your screen. And yes, you can close it whenever you like, if some chatty player is getting on your nerves.
I personally really like the reward system. Each course gives you a set of goals specific to the course and your skill level, such as getting Green in Regulation (within 1-2 hits) or hitting a 200+ yard drive for your first time. Achieving these goals gives you money to spend in the pro-shop and experience towards upgrading your character. I haven’t played enough to experience this myself, but other players tell me that this works in streaks. So the better you do, the more you’re rewarded, while not punishing you for a missed stroke here or there.
There’s also a system called “The Cut” that I’m still learning about. My understanding is that the game sets a goal based on the how the other golfers of your skill level are doing and develops a challenge based on it. If you meet the challenge, you make the cut and get experience and cash. The better you do over goal, the more you get.
I played for quite a while tonight and had a lot of fun. The game is definitely niche but has a lot of wonderful qualities for a browser game. Still, it’s sports, so if you know you’re not a fan of the genre, don’t bother – still, try it if you’re on the fence. It’s very streamlined, so it’s possible to play a full course (18 holes) on your lunch break, which is a pleasant surprise.
If anyone feels like playing around, let me know! My handle is gamebynight. Maybe afterwords we can hit the club house and talk some video games.
Update: Eurogamer has an excellent review I found while looking for images. 8/10! Check it out if you’re interested, they go into more detail than I do here.