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Who says you have to grow up? Here at SI.com's Game Room, our staffers review the latest sports video game titles to hit the market and welcome your feedback.
 
9/10/2007 04:03:00 PM

Review: Tiger Woods '08 (All systems)

By Lou Dubois

Most golfers like to imagine they're Tiger Woods at one point or another. From his style to his wife to his golf swing, he sets the standard that many golfers and fans follow. So it should come as no surprise that Tiger is setting a standard in the video game industry with his newest game, Tiger Woods '08. What is it? It's a feature called Photo Face, and you'll be seeing it on many other EA games in the near future.

Tiger Woods 08
Tiger Woods 08 :: EA Sports
Essentially, Photo Face lets users either import digital photos or capture one via Xbox Live Vision Camera or Playstation EyeToy, then import their likeness (in an almost scary sense of realism) into the game. The faces are strikingly accurate, and when you see yourself on the same golf course as Tiger its a really cool feature. When the game was first released, there were a lot of issues with Photo Face. When you tried to upload a picture to the game's website, you received an error message. They have worked out this early glitch though.

Moving on to actual gameplay, Tiger '08 excels at what they've been doing right throughout the years and improves on it. The most notable change/addition to '08 is the return of the 3 click shot. Everyone remembers clicking once to start the meter, once for power and then once more for accuracy. If you haven't been a fan of the golf games of late because they force you to use the analog stick, this will be a welcome change. But one thing to know, the 3 click shot requires precision accuracy, something the analog stick is a little more forgiving on. For that reason, and because it feels a little too old school to me, stick with the analog stick to swing.

Tiger Woods 08
Tiger Woods 08 :: EA Sports
The biggest problem I've always had with the Tiger games is that when you create a golfer, your attributes are basically non-existent. You have no power, no skill, nothing that lets you compete. And it takes a lot of gameplay and work to build that profile up. It would be nice if they were able to figure out a way to let guys drive the ball more than 150 yards. In my past experiences, it wasn't too hard to build up your skill-set to a respectable level. But in this year's game it just seems to take forever.

The best way to get your created golfer to be more respectable is to actually get out on the course in the PGA Tour mode. If you hit a difficult putt, put good spin on a ball or hit a good drive, your stats are updated accordingly when you finish your round. This definitely beats competing in the practice exercises over and over again, despite how much fun some of them are -- in particular the long drive competition.

My favorite new feature in this year's game (though I guess it's not new but a revamped World Tour) is Tiger Challenge. There are new contests littered throughout the Challenge, from various golf courses and against a wide variety of players, and they all lead to the ultimate goal of you challenging Tiger in a round of golf. All the money you win in these events can be used in the pro shop on new equipment and threads, and the selection there is great. As for other features that are solid, the Putt Preview and Shot Confidence top my list. Putt Preview lets you see the projected path of your putt (only once per hole), and once you get the hang of how to use it is a very useful tool. Shot Confidence is a built-in mechanic that watches how a player is performing in any given round. If you hit a birdie putt, your confidence goes up and you're playing better. If you shank a shot off the tee, confidence goes down and you're less likely to hit a good iron from the rough. All in all, a very realistic game feature.

The folks at EA (see YouTube clip below) are really pushing the GamerNet, the franchise's newest online component. It allows players to create a custom challenge based on specific holes or an entire round. There are plenty of ways to make this feature fun and worthwhile, and it helps for gamers who play by themselves but want to feel as though it were multiplayer with them and some friends.

Graphically, this game is by far the best in any of the Tiger games to this point. Flat out, this game looks amazing -- at least on my 1080p television. The details in all of the golfers are great, as they replicate Tiger's new strength and Camilo Villegas' flashy style. There are great features for all of the players in the game, though the list of players is still not complete. The courses all look terrific, as usual. And they continue to leave the blocked out spectators on the course, which will dive out of the way if you hit an errant shot. Personally, I think it's a pretty funny feature, and it makes for fun gameplay. But the clarity of everything in the game is stunning.

Overall, the game has many good new features and additions, and the graphics are stunning. It's not a huge upgrade from last year's version except for the online features, but it's well worth the $60 retail. You won't be able to not play this game.

Ratings System (1 to 10)
Gameplay: 9
This game is the most realistic golfing game you will find, and it's not disappointing in any way. You'll feel like you're improving your golf game when you play, as it's extremely realistic. The only negative is the length of time it takes to build up the stats for a created golfer.
Graphics: 9
I don't know how EA could have done any better with this game. The players are incredibly realistic, the golf courses stunning and the crowd intrigued by the players on the course. This may well be the best part of the game.
Replayability: 8
The online GamerNet and Tiger Challenge features are designed to keep you playing online against others, but to me they seem a bit forced and detached from the real reason you're probably playing Tiger -- to create a good golfer. But with the depth of the career mode, there's no limit to how far you can go.
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