This will be the only time you'll hear me utter these next words. I whacked balls all day long today!
This is the first experience I’ve had with EA’s Tiger Woods franchise. I was a huge fan of the PGA Tour Golf franchise on the SNES and Genesis, and played hundreds of hours of Mario Golf on the N64. After a few recommendations from friends after last year’s PS2 outing, I picked up Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2003 on its release date.
The first thing that threw me off was the control scheme. For hitting the ball, golf games usually have some sort of power meter to judge the strength of your shot. EA has gone against the grain here and revamped the whole process. For hitting and putting you now use the main analog stick to make your shots. Initially, I hated this whole process and almost ran back to the store and returned the game, but now it’s growing on me. After adjusting to this new-fangled world of analog stick golfing, my only complaint is that after prolonged use, my thumb hurts. I’d still opt for the old power meter, but this isn’t all that bad.
The gameplay is a mixture of an arcade golf title and sim. After 5-6 shots I had my first hole-in-1. Granted, I’ve played my fair share of golf games, but I’m a little concerned with the difficulty of the game. There are a ton of options and game modes, and almost everything is customizable. There is plenty here for the single player, as well as multiplayer - 9 courses, plus fantasy courses, 6 mini games, tournaments, challenges, and an online leaderboard. The game even recognized other EA titles on my memory card and gave me money to upgrade my player right off the bat. Not too shabby.
Visually, Tiger Woods is above average, but still has its flaws. The animation is good, and the players look fantastic. Courses are well detailed and have excellent environmental effects like rain and fog. On that note, there are more Xbox lens flares than my bleeding eyes can handle. Tiger has excellent sweeping and dramatic camera shots, but sometimes the camera can get trapped behind weeds or grass. One thing I found lacking was the missing crowd that cheers you on. You can hear them screaming, but can’t seem to find them on the course.
Tiger Woods is rather disappointing sound-wise. Electronic Arts has incorporated their new EA Trax into the game, and it just doesn’t seem to fit. Why does a relaxing sport like golf need barf-rock like Saliva in it at all? First off, they’re a crappy band, but it just doesn’t seem to fit. We’re talking about Tiger “Mr. Buick” Woods here. He may be an amazing golfer, but he’s no tough guy. He’s a pretty boy golfer. Who are we kidding? Tiger Woods does not “rock out”. EA could have made this game a lot more captivating aurally by using ambient techno, or acoustic guitars or something. I’m not saying use smooth jazz or new age music, but golf just doesn’t rock. Fortunately, the music can be turned on and off.
It may not be as sim-like as a Links game, but don’t let that sway you from giving this game at least a rental. Tiger Woods is one of the best console golf games I’ve played in a long time. Within 2 days of playing, I’ve barely scratched the surface of everything this has to offer. Tiger Woods is a must-have for any golf fan. If you’re looking for something different than a “Hot Shots wannabe,” and are looking for an arcade-like golf sim, at least give this game a rental. There are many other golf titles available now, but Tiger Woods seems to have what it takes to be a step above the rest.