Available in beta since last August, Tiger Woods PGA Tour Online has been opened up to the general public today. The browser-based golf game signals the end of the physical media version for the PC (there actually hasn’t been a PC version since Tiger Woods PGA Tour 08 was launched in late 2007) but offers a decent amount of free, pay-to-play, and subscription options. And since it runs out of a web browser, the game can now be played on Macs too.
I’ve been playing the beta version since last August and the game is impressive for something that runs directly out of a browser. You do need to install a small piece of software called the Unity Web Player once, but after that you’re up and running in no time. Graphics are pretty decent by any game’s standards and incredible for a browser-based game, so that’s nice.
You create your own golfer and add to his or her skills as you gain experience playing various available courses. Currently, you can play two out of 10 available courses for free (St. Andrews and Sheshan in China) or you can opt to play the other courses by paying a one-time “greens fee” of between $1.00 and $1.50, depending on the course. Die-hard players can also sign up for a $10 monthly or $60 yearly subscription, which offers unlimited play on any and all available courses.
Since everything’s played online, there’s no shortage of multiplayer elements. EA hosts daily and weekly tournaments, you can play against other people at any time, and you can form and join groups where members can play private tournaments against each other, see everyone else’s stats, and leave group messages. I started a group called Techland if anyone wants to join.
All in all, it’s a good first start for true browser-based gaming. Yes, you have to be connected to the internet to play and I’m not sure I’d shell out $60 for yearly access, but there’s enough free stuff to keep people busy and paying for extras every once in awhile doesn’t seem too unreasonable if you’re not going to play all that often.