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10/24/2006 10:24:00 AM
Review: Tiger Woods PGA Tour 07
By Lang Whitaker
For my Dad's 70th birthday, I decided to go the non-traditional route and I bought him a PlayStation2. I suspected that retirement would present my Dad with the unique set of lifestyle opportunities conducive to being a video gamer: lots of free time, few outside demands, the ability to devote hours at a time at defeating a particular game. I went all out, getting not only a PS2 but also a few memory cards, two controllers, and a stack of about ten games from various genres.
Two years later, my Dad plays the PS2 almost every day. He has not, however, become an avid gamer, sitting deep in his Lazy Boy with a headset on, chatting away online or deep in a game of Grand Theft Auto. Instead, my dad plays one game, over and over: Tiger Woods PGA Tour. And any game which appeals to ages from 10 to 70 must be doing something right.
EA has been cranking out an annual version of Tiger Woods' eponymous golf video game every year since 1999, but this year marks only the second version of Tiger Woods for the Xbox 360. And after years of playing video games solely on the PlayStation 2, I made the jump to the Xbox 360 a few weeks ago, and I have nothing but good things to say about the Xbox -- the graphics are crisp, the sound is full and loud.
Anyway, back to Tiger. Last year's version was pretty roundly panned, mostly because it had only six courses and few game modes. And course customization was all the rage a few years ago, just in case golfing on purple fairways is something you're into. This year, Tiger Woods PGA Tour 07 is full of courses (a dozen are included) and modes, without purple fairways but with a completely revamped aiming system that really revitalizes the Tiger Woods franchise.
The new aiming system is called "True Aiming," and instead of hitting at a particular point, your golfer hits toward a circle sized according to his skill level. It's now exponentially harder to hit the ball accurately with any regularity, so much so that I found myself having to actually pause and take a deep breath prior to each shot, in an attempt to make sure I didn't smack the ball into the gallery. I kept slicing everything to the right, so, taking a page from real golf, I started lining everything up to the left, taking advantage of my natural virtual slice.
Putting has also been tweaked. Gone are the "caddy tips," which told you exactly where to place your cursor, making the setup all the work. Now putts are determined by how hard you swing the putter, putting putting touch at a premium.
I mentioned the gallery before, and that's a pretty significant addition to the Tiger franchise. A rather large gallery tracks you around the course, applauding after great swings, running along the fairways to get a good view of the upcoming shots. Before you shoot, marshalls hold up "Quiet" signs. The only issue here is that fans are faceless and formless, like characters from The Sims dressed in muted earth tones. Occasionally a group of them can even be seen floating down the fairway -- running along for a better look but not moving their legs -- but overall the fans are a great addition.
Actually, the fans might be the worst part of the game's graphics, because everything else is pretty stunning. From the rippling lakes to the quietly chirping birds, the graphics are tremendous all the way around. This is perhaps best exhibited in the Gameface mode, where you create your character, fine-tuning everything from his or her haircut down to their wrinkles and freckles. The amount of control is remarkable, although when I tried to create a golfer that looked like Stephon Marbury, the best I could come up with was a guy that looked like a cross between Tiger Woods and Vijay Singh. But my poor artistic skills shouldn't count against the game's built-in bells and whistles.
I also spent some time with the PS2 version of Tiger Woods, which is based around a "team play" theme. Basically, you beat various characters in different matches and then have the option of adding those you've defeated to your roster for use in various match play events. The graphics aren't nearly as good as the Xbox 360 version, but there are more courses available and more mini-games.
The most fun part of the game remains the Career mode, where you build a golfer from scratch and then compete in tournaments and one-off events against real and fake golfers. Everyone from John Daly to Annika Sorenstam is available. The oddest thing is golfer Ian Poulter, who plays in a No. 10 Arsenal jersey with his own name on the back -- at least they could've put John Daly in a Razorbacks football jersey.
Nearly everything about this game is terrific, except for one major glitch: While testing out the online play, which EA has heavily promoted as a key facet of this year's game, I couldn't log into the game's online lobby. I enlisted the online gaming prowess of my SI.com colleague Adam Levine, but he also was locked out. An extensive SI.com investigation -- basically, Adam checked the message boards on IGN -- showed that we weren't the only ones unable to log in.
This game is good enough as it is, but playing online and talking trash over the headset is something I'm really looking forward to, assuming EA works this out. But even without the online play, I'm already hooked. And I'm pretty sure my Dad's going to be, too.
Ratings System (1 to 10)
Game Play: 8.8
The new True Aiming makes Tiger Woods tougher, but it also makes it much more fun and addictive.
From the opening graphic of Tiger bouncing his ball on an iron to shadows cast across the greens, this is one of the best looking games of the year.
The career mode and PGA Tour mode are plenty to keep gamers busy for months, but online play should really push this game to the next level. Assuming it works, that is.
Tiger Woods EA Golf 2007 game on the X-Box 360 is awesome. The amount of detail you have in building your own golfer is ridiculous. I also have to compensate for my real/virtual slice and aim left on my drives. Pebble Beach is a very challening but fun course.
hmmm. he said he had it for PS2 but i have PS2 and i haven't noticed the gallery doing anything whatsoever. In fact, i think the people in the gallery look horrible. I haven't played it on Xbox 360 but i can imagin it is better. Madden is way better looking on 360 then it is on PS2.
The PS2 version has some serious control problems compared with previous years' outings. While it still has the caddy tips for putting, the caddy appears to have no depth perception as his recommendations are often short or long by YARDS. You're pretty much on your own. The online features are so frustrating to connect to that they are best left alone for now. EA really seems to have abandoned innovation (and even testing) now that they have exclusivity wrapped up.
What's up with Furyk's swing? In the '06 version the Furyk character has a vertical takeaway that drops into the slot on his downswing, just like in real life. However, in the '07 game he has a perfect swing plane. I still like playing the Furyk character, but it's somehow not as cool without the trademark Furyk swing.