Tiger Woods PGA Tour 07 Review

Tiger Woods PGA Tour ’07 has finally made the complete video game golf circuit by appearing on every full sized game console, with the latest addition making its way to the Wii. We’ve already reviewed the game for the Xbox 360, the PS2, and the PS3 so what else can we say about the same title? Apparently, there is a lot more to say then we thought — most of it centers on the Wii’s control system. Whether this turns out to be a bogey or an eagle for the game will be revealed when we all finish at the clubhouse.

If you’ve been around golf video games for any length of time, you’ve seen the steady progression of how game developers have tackled the problem of replicating the golf swing. The early attempts were with power gauges. The idea was to time a little moving mark on a horizontal bar and stop the pointer in the "sweet spot." The next phase in golf club swinging mechanics was an altered power meter. In this setup, the gauge was a round HUD readout which allowed you to, again, time your hit by stopping the moving pointer or mark in the right location, only this time around, you had the control of making your ball draw (curve left) or slice (curve right).

Now, the Wii has given us the next evolution in playing golf games, and oddly enough, the swing meter is no longer there. You use the Wiimote’s motion sensor and swing it just like a golf club, and depending on the amount of physical power and backswing you put into your swing, this dictates how much power you drive or putt the ball with. In short, your swing controls the reaction of the ball, just like in real golf.

Gameplay offers many of the game modes found in the other versions of TW07 such as the lengthy PGA Tour season, traditional game modes such as skins, match and stroke play, Tiger Challenge (World Tour), team ball events, and the popular Skills challenges. There’s a lot to do in this game, and if you can’t go out and play a few rounds, this is probably the next best thing. The control scheme is as hard or easy to learn as swinging a real golf club. If you aren’t correctly following through with your swing, you’ll be sure to either hook or slice the ball. I spent a good twenty minutes trying to get my ball to go straight down the fairway until I suddenly realized, "The controller reacts to my swing just like a real club would." I had to mentally picture a golf ball on the floor in order to produce a nice steady swing. If I missed my mark, the ball would go bye-bye into the rough or out of bounds. But that’s only half the story; the Wiimote also tracks how much backswing you take, the speed of your downswing, and the accuracy of how perfect your swing arc is.

After a while, I figured out that my tendency to always hook the ball was incurable (just like in my real golf game), and I resorted to modifying how I held the Wiimote. I turned the controller in my hands slightly to the right, and voila, no more hook. But if trying to adjust your swing and grip on the controller is too tedious, you can adjust the difficulty setting so that you’ll be able to hit a straight shot every time. There is also a mode for using the nunchuk, but this wasn’t as satisfying as taking a big swing at the "ball" and hearing a nice "thwack" upon contact. The more you play this game, the more you’ll be able to fine tune your stroke and gauge how much power you need for any particular shot. Not every stroke you take needs full power, and you can vary this power by modifying your backswing and "club speed." But since none of us have perfect bio feedback, TW07 gives you the option of taking a few practice swings before actually hitting the ball. All you need to do is to press the "-" button, and you can take as many swings as you need to zero in on the amount of power you need to go down the fairway, make a chip shot, or putt out. After every stroke, a readout tells you how hard you hit the ball — whether it was over 100% for a power swing, or increments less than 100% depending on what the conditions and needs are.

The Wiimote system isn’t perfect, though, and sometimes you’ll hit the ball without really meaning too. This is because the Wiimote senses little twitches that you may unconsciously be doing while you are getting ready to take a swing. You "tell" the Wiimote that you are about to swing by pressing and keeping down the "B" trigger. If you move a little bit, the golfer animation starts and you wind up saying a few choice words not suitable for family viewing. Putting also takes a little getting used to because you have to put a little more energy into the putt then you may think. Since there are no graphics to let you know how much power you are putting into your swing, you must solely rely on your estimate of how hard to swing at the ball. Chip shots sometimes land short even at full power, and you’ll have to learn that the suggested club offered by the game isn’t always the best one to use.

One of the downsides of TW07 doesn’t really have anything directly to do with gameplay, but it still affects the game. What I’m talking about is the horrible "manual" that comes with it. EA could have included a much better manual that explained the various features and functions of the game, but instead has resorted to a skinny 8 page booklet that barely tells you how to play. How do you prevent accidental swings? What’s the best way to modify your swing? How do you create a character and improve the stats? Simple questions such as these and much more were left out of the manual. Paper must be at a premium, because there is little to see or learn in the booklet.

The graphics of the game are pretty good, especially if you consider that the Wii isn’t truly a next gen console with bulging visual muscles. There’s some blocky graphics here and there, but since most of these questionable graphics are trees in the distance, it’s not that big of a deal. One thing that causes a little bit of concern is trying to get the Wii to do a camera flyby of where your shot will land. Pushing the "A" button is supposed to take you from the tee to the target area, but since the Wii is chugging away in getting the graphic ready, you’ll be waiting quite a few seconds before the animation starts. After a while, you’ll only use this feature on important shots, because the loading time just interrupts the fun.

The sound of the game consists of ball SFX, annoying announcer commentary that you’ll probably turn off after a couple of minutes, and crowd cheers that seem to be coming from people that have consumed much too much coffee. There’s always a guy in the crowd that goes, "YEAH! YEAH! WHHHOOOO WEEEWE!" even after I sink a little 3 inch putt. It’s times like this where I wish I could get my Lancer Rifle from Gears of War and blow the sucker away, but that’s another game and another console. They really have to hire some professional actors to do the crowd noises or record actual crowd chatter instead of getting volunteers from the EA staff.

So how does Tiger Woods PGA Tour 07 look on the final scorecard? The game is definitely fun for old golf pros and newcomers alike. The game can be very challenging when played in the harder modes, but it can be toned down enough for the non-golfer to enjoy. The big plus is how the WiiMote adds realism to the experience of playing a golf video game. There are a few bumpy spots such as the accuracy of the WiiMote and the learning curve in using it properly, but if you can get the basics down and you don’t mind playing a golf title, TWPGA Tour 07 should prove to be par for the course for a fun video game anyone can enjoy.


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Author: GamerNode Staff View all posts by

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