Publisher: Electronic Arts
Developer: EA Sports
Release Date: October 10, 2006
I think I should be honest. I'm not a big fan of televised golf. I don't hate it, but I don't particularly rush to watch it every week, either. With that said, I absolutely love golf games. From Golf back on the NES onward, golf games have always held an interest for me that the actual sport just can't seem to work up. The Tiger Woods series has always been held up as an example of top-notch golf, and the latest iteration in the franchise, Tiger Woods PGA Tour 07, looks to continue the series' proud lineage. Unfortunately, it doesn't do much to improve upon that tradition of excellence, either.
All in all, not much has changed from the series' last offering. Most of the familiar modes have returned, although Rivals has been dropped in favor of the new Team Tour mode. The difficulty can now be further adjusted, making things easier for beginners, or allowing handicaps to be set for experienced golfers. Players also have a choice between standard and alternative shot styles for their golfers. The alternative shot style allows the player to use the right analog stick to aim their shots instead of using the left analog stick to do everything. While this change won't make much of a difference to new players, vets may be glad to have the choice. One particularly welcome addition is the Speed Shot feature, which allows players to speed up animations or even skip some entirely, making gameplay go by notably quicker than the previous iteration. Despite the fact that this means skipping some of Tiger Woods' beautiful animations, it can be a godsend in long matches.
Tiger Woods PGA Tour 07 is arguably the series' most friendly introduction for new players in a while. Everything seems just a little bit easier, the adjustable difficulty mode means that players who are having trouble out-shooting the pros can balance things in their favor, and a series of tutorial videos is available to teach players about the new and old features. Even players who have never played a game of golf before should be able to pick up and play, and after a few rounds, be able to compete with the best the AI has to offer. For those who prefer a challenge, you can ratchet the difficulty meter to maximum, turn off all the assisting features and play bare-bones. Tiger Woods 07 should have enough difficulty to appeal to rookies and veterans alike.
Tiger Woods' Create-A-Pro feature seems to get more detailed with every year. For those unfamiliar with the feature, Create-A-Pro allows the player to create his own custom golfer from scratch, in unbelievable detail. Everything from the shape of the eyes to the number of moles can be customized, allowing the gamer to create almost anyone he could imagine. One can spend hours just perfecting the ideal face and swing for the golfer. You can then take the golfer into the game to compete against the pros; in a nod to the popularity of RPG features, these created players then gain experience points as they are used, allowing the player to upgrade their stats. At first, your created player will barely be able to hit the ball 70 yards, but once he gains some experience, you'll be outplaying Tiger Woods with ease. While Tiger Woods 07 only adds a few new features to the creation process, the new gameplay modes take full advantage of these custom golfers.
New to Tiger Woods PGA Tour 07 is the Team Tour. A fairly interesting addition to the lineup, Team Tour has your created golfer leading a team through a series of matches, and by defeating an opponent, you can add him to your team lineup. Unfortunately, this means that anyone fond of using their self-created golfers will end up spending just as much time improving the pro players. The mode is reasonably challenging, especially due to the variety of golfers you end up using, but in the end, it's also fairly short. If Team Tour had been a multiplayer mode, it would have been excellent, but in single-player mode, it feels distinctly lacking.
Seeing the most improvement is the multiplayer segment. The new modes, such as One Ball (players take turns trying to hit a single ball within a certain radius of the cup) and Bloodsome (two teams play with two golf balls, and the opposing team gets to choose which ball the playing team must hit), add a little extra spice to those who play the game with friends. Though some of these new modes can also be played in single-player mode, they just aren't as fun without another human in the room against whom to compete. Single-player fans will be better off sticking with the more classic game modes or the PGA Tour.
Tiger Woods PGA Tour 07 looks incredible, and the level of detail in each player is simply stunning for a PlayStation 2 title. The animations are all incredibly smooth, giving each player a true sense of realism. Even custom characters look perfect, the great level of detail allowing them to blend in perfectly with the real pros. Each fairway is unique, and all of them look gorgeous. One could almost be forgiven for mistaking them for photos for a moment. The pro golfers resemble their real-life counterparts in excellent detail, and all are instantly recognizable. While it's clear that Tiger Woods is starting to feel the age of the PlayStation 2, it manages to pull out a great-looking game anyway.
Although PGA Tour 07 is graphically eye-catching, the audio aspect could use some serious work. While the actual sound of the club hitting the ball is perfect, everything else is seriously lacking. The commentary is repetitive and inane, often reiterating the same phrases multiple times in a single match. Even worse, the commentators appear to be psychic, often remarking about a ball's lie long before it reaches the ground. I found myself turning off the commentators, and though it makes the game less annoying, it also renders it oddly soundless, except for a few cheers and the occasional smack of club against ball.
Tiger Woods's long-term value depends entirely on how much you enjoy the sport. While there are special unlockable golfers, they are about all of the hidden features the game has to offer. Even though the Team Tour mode adds a little life to the action, it's a bit too short for my tastes. While the multiplayer portion can heavily extend the life of the game, what it really comes down to is this: How much you enjoy a good round of golf?
In some ways, Tiger Woods PGA Tour 07 is the perfect place for a beginner to the series to start. Almost everything in the game has withstood the test of time and has been streamlined and smoothed to make it as accessible as possible to all players. However, this means that long-time veterans of the Tiger Woods series won't find much changed from last year's offering, either. Die-hard fans will get a lot of play out of the Team Tour mode, but more casual fans may be better off sticking with PGA Tour 06.