|Tiger Woods PGA Tour 08 (2007)
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Available for: Microsoft 360, Sony PlayStation 3, Nintendo Wii
Another year, another update of the Tiger Woods franchise on EA. Woods is still swinging his set of clubs and getting plenty of fresh air. If you feel like joining him this time around, feel free to get a little thumb exercise and see how well you measure up against his stats and that of other pro golfers. It’s a good time. It’s…video game golf. OK, so I admit to really only being a fan of the “Hot Shots!” series of golfing on a console, but even that lasted only through the first or second sequel before I lost interest. Indeed, “Tiger Woods PGA Tour 08” is a golfer’s game, unlike, say “Madden 08” that attracts a large and more diverse crowd of players.
Not to say golf games haven’t been successful in the video gaming world. Indeed, they’ve been going strong since the days of the Atari 2600. And you can walk into pretty much any sports bar and see a “Golden Tee” machine that’s been well played. But when it comes to console gaming, golf titles are a bit like racing titles, in that they pretty much divide players down the middle between those who want a quick and fun arcade style diversion and those who want a full-on simulation. Luckily, in this year’s “Tiger Woods,” players of both factions may find something to like.
For starters, EA has finally implemented a three-click golf swing setup. So if you’re like me and have enjoyed “Hot Shots!” as your main video game golf experience, you’ll feel right at home here. The other option is to play with the left analog stick by pulling it back and then pushing forward. Only problem is, if you mess up in the slightest, you’ll often find yourself hooking or slicing the hell out of the ball, which can be frustrating, and leaving you wanting to play something else. So, kudos to EA for addressing this issue for both types of players.
Also new this year is the Shot Confidence feature, in which you can see how well you’ve performed on specific holes to make improvements and compare stats. Of course, playing better will improve your character’s confidence, thereby allowing him or her to perform better in the match overall. However, having played a few rounds myself, I can honestly say that I stink even when my confidence was going up. I’m just not much of a golfer, it would seem.
A should-have-been-cool feature that is actually not very good at all is the Photo Game Face. Players can take pictures with their digital cameras and upload them online, or snap pictures with their Live Vision cameras and then implement their likenesses into the “create a character” mode of the game. Don’t be fooled by the picture on the back of the box featuring a shot of a guy’s real face next to a stunning likeness of himself in the game. Even in the best conditions, chances are you’re not going to wind up with anything that looks like you. In fact, the last time I tried to create a golfer with my face in the game, I wound up looking more like an ex-friend of mine. How the hell did that happen?
There are 16 courses to play through this year, including five new ones. You can also choose from 21 pro golfers if you don’t want to create one yourself. Suffice it to say there’s enough variety here to keep fans satisfied, including two arcade modes (“battle” and “one shot”), a bevy of mini games, and a slew of variations on the traditional theme, including such favorites as stroke, match and skin play, as well as an all-new rendition called “Bingo Bango Bongo” that’s sort of an eclectic mash-up of other rules.The graphics look fine in the game. What can be said, really? The grass looks really groovy. There’s no clipping and everything runs smoothly. It does what it needs to do, basically. The sound is a peach as well, with much enjoyment coming from creating a character and then tweaking its voice. I prefer the completely slowed-down sound so it always sounds like my dude’s in a drunken stupor. Yeah, I probably didn’t take this game as “seriously” as I could have, but hey, I did have enough fun with it to keep playing and increase my skills, even if I do always come in last. There’s definitely gotta be some merit in that, especially coming from someone who couldn’t care less about golf in general.