Genre: Sports / Golf
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Developer: EA Redwood Shores
Release Date: Fall 2005
In the mist of video franchises for more popular sports such as football (Madden) and basketball (NBA Live), EA's Tiger Woods series of games has always been somewhat off to the side, discreetly making strides for those who like their sports a little quieter than most. They simultaneously strive for both accurate simulation and for accessibility, with the random fun feature thrown in for good measure. The series is now making its way to the next-generation systems, and we were able to take a very quick look at an early build of the Xbox 360 version in action.
The greatest change for this game, and for the series in general, is the new Dual Analog Swing feature. EA's been buying heavily into making their games more intuitive by way of stick usage )as can be most easily seen in the recently released Fight Night Round 2). Tiger Woods is no exception. The right analog stick can be used to control the spin of the swing as well as its angle and trajectory. Once the player has done so, the left stick is used to actually execute the swing, taking into account the desired power input, which gauged by the player's motions on that stick. This change in control scheme, along with the tweaks made for physics engine for better interaction with wind and surfaces, should go a long way towards making the game pick-up-and-play. Speaking as non-golf gamers (and non-golfers, for that matter), we actually tried the new scheme out for ourselves, and it works like a charm.
Extra physics tweaks were definitely needed, of course, once one takes into account the revamped graphics engine, which, while not several steps up from the 128-bit offerings, has it where it counts. The resolution and polygon counts have been amped up considerably, and there's extra detail on every surface you can think of, from the sand to the water to the (now debuting) individual blades of grass. When balls hit a surface, they leave marks as well. All of these minute touches affect the ball's path in some way. Sunlight sourcing is common, too, though unrelated to ball movement. All of these are really nice things to watch in action, especially as a complement to the gameplay.
Outside of this, the game will come with all of the prerequisite fixings: an all-star cast of golfers ranging from Vijay Singh to the Tiger himself, and David Feherty and Gary McCord as commentators The create-a-golfer system will return as well in higher detail and with more attributes, with player creations usable in the game's Career Mode. It'll also be Xbox Live compatible for up to four players, so you'll be able to hold your own crowd-hushing tournaments whenever you feel like, and with whoever you wish.
This fall, when the Xbox 360 hits, you'll very likely be able to take this home along with it. Thanks to the new play system, this'll be the first time since Hot Shots Golf that people who don't play many golf games one will be able to take one home on a whim, play around with it without getting bored, and decide that, hey, they like hitting balls over wide open spaces.
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