|Tiger Woods PGA Tour 07|
Tiger Woods PGA Tour 07 - Review|
Written by James Hobbs
Tiger Woods PGA Tour 07 is a very strange game. It's almost as if the development team was chopped in half - one half kept in utter
isolation from golf, the other allowed to play golf as much as possible. As such, it's a fairly erratic experience - at times intuitive, at times
annoying beyond comprehension. It's certainly the most accomplished golfing game on Wii thus far - however, given that Wii Sports Golf is the other
alternative, that's hardly surprising.
The size of the game can't be faulted, however - in typical EA fashion, the game presents you with an almost bewildering array of
options and game modes that take quite some exploring. For such a seemingly one-dimensional game, there's a great deal of customisation and
alternative play options that should help to maintain interest in the game - however, if you're not a golf fan, it's ultimately still
lots of poncey people whacking balls with sticks.
The bulk of the game revolves around the rather boringly entitled 'Tiger Challenge' and 'PGA Tour' modes. Tiger Challenge is a more arcade-style affair,
requiring the player to battle their way through 20 courses before coming face to face with Woods himself at the end. Each course employs a
slightly different gameplay mechanic, making use of the variety of golf 'modes' available in the game - some courses require you to hit distant targets for
points, whilst others require you to play doubles with another golfer. It certainly doesn't feel like 'proper' golf should, but it's fairly
entertaining, and provides an adequate diversion from the 'proper' golfing.
The PGA Tour mode, on the other hand, is the more realistic option, and challenges the player to rise up through the ranks to become the best golfer.
It's a similar affair to EA's Madden, and it works fairly well - golf enthuasiasts should be right at home here. Despite this, however, Tiger
Woods PGA Tour 07 still isn't quite as realistic as it should be, and there is a distinct incongruity about how the controls and visuals are
meshed together. For instance, the virtual golf club wielded by your on-screen avatar does not replicate your movements precisely, which makes for a
decidely strange experience, particularly at first. Holding B and swinging back the Wii remote merely initiates a back swing on-screen - swinging the
remote forwards cuts off this back swing and initiates the drive. This system means that all too often, especially initially, we found the game
performing hits due to a slight mis-movement on our part - an incredible annoyance. Real golf is hard, but it doesn't require you to move unnaturally
to adequately strike the ball accurately.
Changing the difficulty settings does go some way to helping accuracy, but ulimately it's a case of learning how the extremely misguided control system
works - a compromise. Even once you've got the hang of how it works, it still doesn't feel quite right - the manner in which the ball leaves the ground
and eventually returns with a dull thwack doesn't look realistic, even the sound of the ball being hit sounds hollow and poorly recorded. It's not
the satisfying crunch you get in Wii Sports when you hit a tennis ball or swipe at a golf ball, and as such it doesn't feel nearly as satisfying.
This is made even worse in the putting - on-green action in Tiger Woods feels partially automatic, and not in a good way. Hitting the ball incorrectly
can often result in the camera angle switching and the ball mysteriously heading back onto course, and in the same way a seemingly nice shot can end up
going wide. It's certainly not one-to-one replication of either club movement or logical ball movement, and it feels suspiciously incorrect.
As you would expect, you have a variety of clubs to choose from, each of which determines the length of type of shot you can use. Holding A
pans the camera high up so you can see the course, and the general area in which the ball should land is represented by a circle. This circle can
be moved around, allowing you to at least have a vague idea where the ball should be going - assuming, of course, you manage to hit it properly.
This method of direction works fairly well, but holding A does result in an annoying wait whilst the camera pans up before you can see properly -
a more instant transition would have been preferable. Having said that, golf is all about sitting around waiting for things, so perhaps it's appropriate
in this case.
Visual representation is paramount in a game like this, where realism is the ( main ) aim of the game. Sadly, Tiger Woods PGA Tour 07 falls largely on
it's arse, failing to look either particularly realistic or stylised. It's a terrible mismatch of shoddy texturing, lazy effects, and some of the most
apalling texture-stitching we've ever seen this side of the Gameboy Advance - you can clearly see the join where sky texture maps have been hastily
pasted together. There really is no excuse whatsoever for this lack of detail on a machine with Wii's power, as plenty of titles have already
illustrated that the system is more than capable of smoothly blending textures together. Whilst EA generally produce above-average ports, this
incarnation of the game wouldn't look out of place on a PS2. One positive of the graphics engine, however, is the motion capture - it looks
excellent, with the golfers moving and swinging fairly realistically. However, the shoddy texturing of some of the peripheral players lets down the
excellent motion capture work, with some women in particularly having gigantic rear ends and horribly distorted faces. Some of you might be into that,
but I'm sure as hell not.