Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2003
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Review of Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2003
Video golf games are a strange batch of titles to comment about, as there is rarely a fence down the middle to sit upon. Every drive, pitch and putt is either drooled over with the utmost concentration offering a lengthy but thoroughly absorbing encounter… or the gameplay simply bores the pants off you. Being someone who would find nothing wrong in taking five minutes to line up a four-foot tap-in on a polygon putting green I obviously fall in the first category, however it has been many years since I have experienced a console title that was as addictive as the real game.
To date the finest example of simulated golf appeared on the original Playstation and came from the now disbanded team of British developers, Gremlin. In fact I would still recommend checking out those second-hand stores for a rare gem in the form of Actua Golf 3 (regardless of any following comments). The cartoony Hot Shots (or Everybody’s Golf) proved that the gameplay format need not be so regimental, now all we needed was a something that was fun to play AND looked realistic.
Having been unimpressed by previous PS1 games in the PGA Tour Golf series (maybe the original back in 1996 was groundbreaking) I was eager to find out if EA Sports could move even further up the handicap table with their second attempt on PS2.
To begin with the characters look amazing, ranging from a selection of crazy creations (that would slot nicely into a Tekken game), to the life-like representations of top stars including Justin Leonard, Colin Montgomerie, Mark O’Meara, Jesper Panevik, Jim Furyk, Tiger Woods and many more. Some of the facial expressions and mannerisms are superb. I especially liked the more wacky antics such as the giant sumo wrestler who threw down his club and pounded the green with his fists in anger at missing a simple putt (been there… done that!).
EA Sports has almost doubled its course line up this time around with several additional world class venues nestled alongside a selection of challenging imaginary designs such as the volcanic Black Rock Cove and an awesome Highland course, which sees players teeing off from the top of a castle keep, over the lashing sea and onto a small green over 100 feet below, or driving along a narrow cliff-side before pitching to the green over a 30 foot boulder. This sort of course provides a visual treat as well as a skilful challenge.
My only complaint about the graphics would be that while the 3D golf landscape generally looks mighty impressive much of the hazardous landing spots lack any visual sign of danger. When setting up a shot the fairways and greens are fairly obvious by the lighter shade of green, however most of the more treacherous zones simply appear as a slightly darker shade of green. A basic on-screen indicator of how dense the rough actually is would be suffice (light, heavy or impossible) allowing the player to judge whether to risk the shot or not.
The control is fine with the swinging analog stick working a treat and now must surely have superseded the old three-button-press timing system. I’m not so sure about the use of the L1 and L2 buttons to generate extra power and ball control, especially being able to switch top/side/back spin while the ball is in the air. Judging the putting distance can also be a bit of a gamble, especially when the caddie tips are turned off. The old grid system should have remained as an option.
Gameplay is fairly similar to last year’s version with the usual Skins, Tournament, Match Play, Practice and Stroke Play modes. Once again the Tiger Challenge (consisting of 18 separate challenges which open a section of Tigers Dream 18) proves to be the main event along with 50 new Scenarios, a variety of head-to-head Skillzones such as Capture-The-Flag along with the return of the wonderful split-screen Speed Golf. For those unaware of this frantic two-player mode, basically all etiquette is left in the clubhouse, as this is an all out race for cash. Both players begin with the same amount of money and any winnings are deducted from your opponents balance. Win cash for the being the first player to strike the ball, longest drive, first on the green and finishing with the lowest score. The first to drain the opponent’s bank is the winner.
The pleasing sound effects wrap up a nice tidy package. Commentary is witty in places and embarrassing in others. The crowd effects are dependant on the size and nature of the tournament you are currently playing in. For instance the Highland course has background sounds of bagpipes wailing, sheep bleating, waves lashing against the rocks and the occasional wail from the Lock Ness Monster. Sadly, in the larger tournaments many shots are assisted by that awful outburst of “In the hole!” even when driving off from a long par five. Morons.
OUR PLEDGE: We promise that we have fully played 'Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2003' before writing this review. The scores given above are our honest opinion and were not influenced in any way by the manufacturer or distributor of the game.
This review was written by Martin © Absolute PlayStation
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