Tiger Woods 07 Review

For many of us, the closest experience we,ll have to real golf is at the miniature putt-putt courses where getting a hole-in-one at the windmill is about as exciting as it will ever get.

However, golf video games serve as a pretty good substitute for understanding the mechanics, strategy, and the joys and frustrations of the game. It also serves as a convenient way to play the game when you want to put in a few rounds without leaving the cozy confines of your couch or sofa. And besides, you can visit all the famous golf courses in the virtual world without having to join expensive country clubs or paying pricey green fees. (It also saves you some embarrassment in the real world when you score a 70…on the front 9. I will remain silent and invoke my Fifth Amendment rights on this personally happening to me.)

The Tiger Woods PGA Tour games have been around since 1999, and with each successive title, the franchise has tried to innovate and improve upon the virtual reality counterpart of the live game. In some years, the games have been tournament winners, while at other times, they were somewhat below par. In our review of the newest in the game, Tiger Woods PGA Tour 07, we,ll take it out on our rounds to see if it ranks up there in the top leader boards or needs some more work on the driving range.

This year,s edition sports a huge assortment of playing modes, features, and courses to choose from. One of the difficult things about producing a golf game is making the gameplay enjoyable and fun. If a golf game is basically a simulation, the action, tension and drama somehow looses itself in the translation. So producers have been adding more bells and whistles to these titles to entice gamers and avid golfers to play.

If you have been on the links, you know that hitting a stationary ball on the ground isn,t as easy as it looks. There is a plethora of swing mechanics that you must execute properly, along with good posture, timing and the correct selection of clubs. Added to this, you also have to consider the terrain and lie of the ball, and take into consideration environmental factors such as wind speed, water hazards, bunkers and other obstacles which block your way to the hole. In many ways, it is as much a thinking game as it is a physical one.

In TW: 07, the physics of the game are generally good, with some exceptions which will be pointed out later. The flight of the ball looks good, and the way the ball behaves as it bounces down the fairway or explodes out of a sand trap is realistic and accurate. The meat of this game is primarily a sim, and you have to really work at perfecting your technique and knowledge of the many variables which are made available to you in Tiger Woods. For instance, you may only be 110 yards out from the green, but the difference between using a 8 iron or 9 iron may have your ball laying up nicely placed near the pin, or having it roll away into the fringe or rough. During the game, I realized that I had the tendency to make the ball draw heavily to the right. Instead of trying to correct my swing, I merely compensated by aiming to the left of my target. Not exactly what a golf pro would recommend, but it was a nice way to fix my error. So problems in your swing show up in the game just as if you were playing live golf.

They say that that short game is what separates the amateurs from the pros, and this will be evident as you approach the green and attempt to putt. The basics of putting are the same as driving the ball; you pull back on the left controller and push forward to hit. However, this is not all that goes on when you putt. A grid with moving beads shows you the lie of the green, and gives you information on how you should aim your shot. This aspect takes quite a bit of doing as you not only have to compensate for how the green reacts, but you must also take into consideration how hard you should hit the ball. It will take a while to get the hang of this, but as you play more, you,ll get the feel for how this works.

Swinging your club is done by using the left joystick. Pull back, and you start your backswing, push forward rapidly and you go into your downswing. If your timing is correct, you,ll be able to hear the satisfying metallic "ping" of hitting the golf ball. Pulling the joystick to the right or left of center and pushing up diagonally will produce a fade (ball travels from right to left) or a draw (ball goes from left to right.) You can also accomplish this by using the right joystick to control these parameters if you select the alternative swing option.

Customization of your player is almost outrageous in nature, as you can fine tune elements in your character,s look down to the wrinkles and weathering of the face and much more. Think of this section as something like the tweaking abilities you have in the Gran Turismo racing games-you can spend a lot of time on this. Not only can you adjust and modify the appearance of your characters, you can also modify the way your player takes a swing at the ball. Upgrading your abilities also occurs here, as you can use experience points that you earn though winning matches to improve attributes like accuracy, power and special skills. Money you earn from tournaments and skill matches can be used to upgrade your clubs, balls, and clothes. Most of these features remain locked until you are able to snag a sponsor. This Tiger game is one of the deepest as far as features is concerned, and the many modes of play will keep you coming back to visit.

Gameplay is broken down into several parts. There is the familiar Play Now mode in which you can get into the swing (ha) of things and start playing immediately without any configuration or set up of your character. Play Now is a good place to start in familiarizing yourself with how the game of golf works without getting too deeply into the more intricate details of customization. TW: 07 also has a tutorial mode, in which all the aspects of playing Tiger are reviewed and explained. You can play this game without much preparation, but if you intend to make the cut in the PGA Tour mode or beat the competition, you,ll need to understand all the little nuisances and controls of gameplay. It may take a little training on your part, but it will pay off in big dividends as you chalk up more wins and accumulate more money and experience points.

In total, the game has 21 courses. Now, from the comfort of your own home, you can visit and play on famous courses such as Pebble Beach, Colonial CC, TPC at Sawgrass, The Falls, Bandon Dunes, The National and others. Included in this respectable list are five fantasy courses as well. These locations are not all immediately playable, and can be unlocked by winning matches in the Team Tour mode of the game.

Game Mode has many different games to choose from. Of course, the PGA Tour is there, and you can work your way up through the ranks by successfully winning tournaments such as the Nissan Open, Australian Open and others. Some of the competitions have prerequisites in which you have to place in the top ten in the previous season, or win a major title in order to enter. The tournaments are accessed and unlocked through an events calendar where all the major tourneys are displayed. These contests last for three to four days, and your score is tallied at the end of the final round of golf.

But not everyone has the stamina to play through a long virtual season of golf, so TW: 07 has added a bunch of diversions for you to take part in. Of the many modes available to you, you can play games such as One and Four Ball, Elimination, Battle Golf, Skins, Match Play, Practice and many others. Of special note, is the new gameplay feature called Team Tour. In this feature, you travel the world and go head-to-head with other golfers. If you beat them, they become part of your team. These new members can be used in other team events such as Elimination, Four Ball, and Battle Golf. Team Tour also unlocks various golf courses for you to play on.

Skill Zone returns to TW: 07, and offers an entertaining feature to take your mind away from the pressure of being the best golfer in the world. The mode includes target practice games, where you can win cash for hitting bull,s-eyes in various locations and settings. The Roof game was particularly fun, but ended shortly after entering the fourth rooftop challenge. The game,s mapping for the physical attributes of the bull,s eye target was wrong, however, and balls which hit the supposedly soft felt of the target bounced high and away as if it were concrete. Trying to bounce balls off of the outcrops of buildings in order to drop down on the target was also unsuccessful and there was no way to land safely without bouncing over the wall. The target designations were also off. Whenever a ball landed on a yellow ring of the target, the message would screen up and say that I had scored in the red ring. There were no red rings in the target, but there were in other sections of the game. Apparently, the programmers forgot to fix this typo when they redesigned the colors of the target areas.

Golf isn,t known for being a quick game, but TW: 07 allows you to speed up action by hitting the triangle button. This fast forwards the action and gets you to the ball in a fraction of the time it would take to view the whole animation sequence. The fast game feature also turns off or skips the reaction animations associated with gameplay. Watching Tiger, or yourself, reacting to missed shots or expressing pleasure at sinking a long putt is fun for a little while, but it substantially slows the game. After a few minutes of this, you,ll switch the fast game feature on or button through the cut scenes.

The graphics are par for the course. Everything runs at 60 frames per second, but the framerate is erratic. This especially occurs when the camera is zooming towards the ball on the green after a shot. The animation jitters and stops for a split second, and returns to normal play. But the stutter occurs everywhere, and you,ll either be annoyed or filter this out after playing the game for a while. Visiting all the different golf courses have a lot of good detail and are true to the actual locations. Character models such as Vijay Singh, Justin Leonard, Annika Sorenstam, and John Daly look a little stiff, but not bad at all. The programmers have elected to reproduce the way the swings look of the various pros; John Daly cranks up his upswing in his classic way, and pounces on the ball as if he wants to smash it into pieces. Replays of your best shots can be instantly seen by pressing the square button, and depending on the shot and the circumstances, you,ll be able to see the shot from different perspectives.

On the flip side, graphic bugs are evident everywhere and bring down the overall polish of the game. On one occasion, a funny bug reared its head on the back nine of The Falls course. Upon hitting the ball on the green, the camera zoomed in and showed the hole in one location and the flag about thirty feet from the hole, all by itself. Should I aim for the flag, or the hole? In other instances, extra frames of action consistently show up before the scorecard appears and makes the transition between the two scenes jump. Balls which are putted into the hole stick to the sides and protrude out of the top. Ball placement is sometimes inaccurate. At one point, I hit a ball down the fairway and into the rough. As the game camera moved forward to where my second shot was, the ball mysteriously relocated itself back on the fairway. While these things don,t bring down the functionality of the game, they are a constant reminder that the game may have been rushed out the door.

Sound for the game is your standard fare of club effects, ambient course noises, cheers from the crowd and lots of airplanes flying overhead. The narration voices, as they were in previous games of Tiger, are inaccurate and mostly irritating. They misread the action and praise you when you muff a shot and downgrade you when you do well. The crowd also seems to be confused, as at times they don’t know whether to cheer you or to groan. I was able hit a second shot onto the green for a possible birdie, and instead of hearing some rather well deserved cheers, I heard only groans from the gallery-a gallery, by the way, that is invisible. There is music in many of the game modes, but this music mysteriously disappears when you are in the PGA Tour. Not really big things, but the total culmination of all these little bugs begins to take their toll after a while.

All-in-all, Tiger Woods PGA Golf Tour 07 is an example of a golf game that is basically done right. The main gameplay is solid and the lengthy PGA Tour mode and Team Play mode will keep you quite busy for many hours. In addition, the Tiger development team has added a lot of game modes that will keep your interest in the game up and will appeal to both the seasoned golf fan and beginner. On the downside, production values are rather loose and inconsistent and the game has more than enough of its share of graphic, sound, physics and ball placement issues. But generally speaking, TW: 07 is still a good package for the armchair golfers among us.


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Author: GamerNode Staff View all posts by

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