Tiger Woods PGA Tour 11

(PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Wii)

Electronic Arts (Developer and Publisher)

$59.99

The last time that news of a Tiger Woods PGA Tour game (now at Game 11) graced these pages, we thought it odd that the cover also featured Irish sensation Rory McIlroy. Given the recent events of Woods' personal life it seemed to be a cheap ploy by EA to save par. Rest assured, golf game fans, the game itself is still better than anything else that is out there.

That isn't to say that the game's move from 10 to 11 is a mere addition of another year. EA has stepped up its game with new mechanics that should have many trading in last year's effort.

Instead of spending cash to improve your game from PGA Tour 10, in PGA Tour 11, you acquire experience points that can be used to improve all aspects of your game. Skill sets that include putting, accuracy, control, swing speed, and power boost can be bumped incrementally as you play well. One cool feature is that even as you spend these points, they can be moved into and out of all the skills at your leisure and you add those points to another attribute.

Regardless of what kind of super golfer you build, many matches can still come down to your Focus meter, a bar that decreases with how many in-game aids you use in a match. Putt previews, skill boosts, and the like will drain your meter and you might start hearing mass "sighs" coming from the stands when you need a putt but your focus is low. In other words, there is a high chance you might mess up critical swings. Of course, True Aim turns off all of the boosts and in-flight aiming, to provide a more realistic endeavor.

Brand-new links include the Whistling Straits, home of the 2010 PGA championship. Many players will be happy to learn that ladies from the LPGA including Suzann Pettersen are also in this game. Online features include the Ryder Cup with up to six four-person teams and yes, EA has included the online pass in this game as well. If you buy the game used, you will have to pay extra to play online, while original owners will have the online access open immediately. While I don't agree with it (the company already has the revenue from the game sale), gamers should get accustomed to this as it seems to be the future of getting revenue from used games. One thing that might make PS3 owners smile is that this game will be fully compatible with the PS3 motion controller (Move) once it hits shelves sometime after the summer.

Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker

(PSP)

Konami (Developer and Publisher)

$39.99

Hard-core MGS fans can rejoice as the series originator, Hideo Kojima, put his own personal stamp on this game, writing and directing this true continuation of the Snake series.

This game is pretty massive considering its handheld status. One could conceivably play this thing until fall if you consider the countless hours you can spend on multiplayer.

Similar to the previous PSP effort, the story line (which starts in Central America as Snake gets all cozy with some mercenaries for hire) is all voice-overs and comic-book panels with some interaction in the story panels later in the game. MGS:PW offers players a chance to team up in an ad hoc multiplayer mode. Gamers can call in up to three other players to handle the boss fights, and you will probably need them. Snake will be recruiting team members throughout the game, including hostages and people who were once enemies. One of the cooler ways to do this is to attach balloons to the folks as you encounter them; they will get scooped up by a helicopter and taken back to base. In reality this is a must-do tactic, so grab as many as you can as they will help in the research of weapons, will provide extra missions to accumulate even more cool stuff, and some of them will be good cooks for the rest of your clan.

Online modes include up to a six-player vs. mode (all the team members from the single player are available) with deathmatch, team deathmatch, capture mission, and base mission subcategories. Base mission seems to be the standout here as players try to capture the most bases on the map while time ticks down.

With the addition of continuous replays of mission and the fairly deep base management, there are simply too many snakes in the grass to be bothered with any other PSP games for a long time.

Contact Rob Watson at rwatson@phillynews.com.