Publisher: Electronic Arts
Developer: EA Sports
Release Date: August 28, 2007
None of us are ever going to be as good as Tiger Woods himself, but we do have a chance to either be him or beat him in the virtual world, thanks to Tiger Woods PGA Tour 08. The latest installment of the coveted golf franchise is once again jam-packed with enough gameplay modes that will keep the replay value as high as ever, but the faulty subtleties in the gameplay mechanics and the "if it ain't broke don't fix it" mentality of the development keep this game at par instead of being a hole-in-one.
One of the best things that the Tiger Woods series has done is incorporate a great variety of gameplay modes, making the games much more than a simple outing at the country club. In single-player mode, you'll once again be able to create your own character with Game Face, but with the help of the Xbox 360 camera, you can literally put your face into the game with Photo Game Face.
This cuts some of the time in creating your character, but with all of the options that you'll find in Game Face, you're almost cheating your hidden artistic talents by using the camera. Don't get me wrong; there is nothing wrong with using the camera, but the level of customization in Tiger Woods 08 is some of the best of not only any sports game, but any game out there. Female golfers are also featured, so ladies won't feel left out of the process.
After you've created your character, you can start your career, but you may want to sharpen your skills first in Skills Training. This mode allows you to partake in various challenges, and with the success of each challenge, you're given points toward skills such as power, drive accuracy, putting and so on. Some of the challenges, such as chipping and closest to pin, will pit you against a computer opponent, while others will have you participating on your own.
Once you improve some of your skills, you can either start your career or compete in the Tiger Challenge. The My Career mode is basically the same as last year's version, only with the FedEx Cup, which is a new addition to the PGA Tour. You'll gain money depending on how you do on the tour, and you can purchase clothing items, such as shirts, shoes and gloves, or accessories, like new clubs. Most of the items in the game are name-brand items from manufacturers like Oakley, Nike, Callaway and so on. It's important because the better your attire, the better you'll play, since many items give your attributes a boost. You'll also gain a boost depending on how you perform in matches. Make a few good putts and chip shots, and you'll receive some points, but don't expect to receive many points early on, since your custom golfer will struggle for a while.
The Tiger Challenge is basically a battle to the top of the golfing world, with your prize being a match with Tiger Woods himself. The challenge starts you off playing against various opponents, and as you win, you'll unlock other challenges that are surrounding what you could call a boss match. Most, if not all, of the surrounding challenges will be against fictional characters, while the boss matches will feature pros like Chris DiMarco, Natalie Gulbis and Retief Goosen. When you successfully complete some of the challenges, you'll not only unlock the challenges around it, but you'll also win money, which can be use toward the customization of your character.
On the multiplayer side, there are 10 different game modes that allow up to four players to compete against each other, such as Skins and Match Play. The 10 mini-games only allow for two players to participate in games such as T.I.G.E.R. (an obvious variation of H.O.R.S.E.) and Long Drive Contest, among others. There are also two Arcade Modes, in case none of the previous modes satisfy your multiplayer golfing hunger. The title also features a few modes that can be played with your friends on Xbox Live, and as EA continues to jump into the online realm of sports video gaming, the games continue to improve, as Tiger Woods 08 runs reasonably well online.
The EA GamerNet featured in Tiger Woods 08 is the franchise's best outing yet. You'll be able to display your best and worst shots online so that they can be seen by all of your friends and golfing foes. Your best shots and outings are recorded by the game and can be challenged by those who see your accomplishments. The EA GamerNet is a big step in the right direction for the franchise, and I'm looking forward to seeing what will be included in next year's edition.
Tiger Woods himself is a pretty good-looking guy, and thankfully, his game does him — and others — justice, as the athletes closely resemble their real-life counterparts. His (multi-)million-dollar smile can be seen with every put he makes, and his stern frustration can be seen with every bad drive. All of the golfers, even custom ones, have great mannerisms and expressions that greatly add to the title's presentation.
The franchise has always had great looking character models, but the courses could still use some work. I'm very particular about the graphical look of golf games because the course is the most important part, and who doesn't love playing on a beautiful course? Fairways, putting greens and sand traps look great, but when you get up close, you can see the graphical issues. Grass occasionally suffered some clipping issues (no pun intended) and did not look as good as I would have liked, but overall, it's still a great-looking game.
Tiger Woods 08 boasts, in my opinion, a surprisingly cool soundtrack featuring instrumentals all across the music board. The title also includes the same witty commentary that it's had for years. If you do not like the music or the commentary, then you can play music from your hard drive and turn off the commentary, but at least you have the option to do so.
With nice graphics and solid audio, Tiger Woods is still missing its birdies and eagles because the gameplay has actually become increasingly frustrating. Driving the ball is extremely exasperating if you're using the overly sensitive analog swing. You can opt out of using the analog stick and chose to use the 3-click system that has been reintroduced into the franchise, but even then, you'll slice and hook too many shots, although it won't be quite so many. This problem does not only occur from the driving tee but also the fairway, and it really takes a lot of enjoyment out of the game.
Putting has not changed much this year, except for the addition of the Putt Preview, which does exactly what it sounds like it does. Before any putt, you can push the left bumper to see the path your ball is going to take, at which point you can adjust your shot accordingly and take a whack at it. You can only use the Putt Preview once before each putt, but if you miss, you do have the ability to use the Putt Preview again.
Some will embrace the fact that you can use it more than once on a hole, depending on how many putts it takes you to get into the cup, but others will complain that it makes putting easier than it should. It really doesn't matter that much since the Putt Preview is very inconsistent. Occasionally, the preview will be dead-on as to where to aim, but then on your next hole, it could cause you to completely overshoot your putt.
The best addition to gameplay is the Shot Confidence feature that keeps track of everything you do within the game. From which clubs to use on certain greens, to how well you perform when chipping from the rough, the Shot Confidence meter will display how clutch, or cold, you are in various scenarios. It gives the Tiger Woods franchise an even better sense of realism, as you know how well or how poorly you've performed on certain holes of courses, which certainly adds to the replay value when you're trying to conquer every course in the game.
Tiger Woods PGA Tour 08 is a good golf game, but it's not a great golf game. The additions of the GamerNet and Shot Confidence don't make up for the faulty driving controls and inconsistent putting support. The replay value and plethora of multiplayer modes will keep any golfer gaming, and the Game Face is still the best of its kind. The franchise isn't going anywhere, but here's to hoping that it starts making a few more birdies and fewer bogeys.
More articles about Tiger Woods PGA Tour 08