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Tiger Woods PGA Tour 08 Review for Xbox 360

tigerwoods08.jpgTiger Woods is for Golf, like David Beckham is for football. Tiger can raise a little smirk here though as ‘he’ has his own branded golf game named after him. Although golf games don’t get much better than the series created by EA Sports, it is starting to struggle a fair bit as next gen starts to be far less forgiving!

Gameplay

Now brimming full to the top with content again, Tiger Woods has an extremely impressive selection of modes. New courses include Westchester Country Club, TPC Boston, Cog Hill and East Lake and the PGA tour features the Fed Ex Cup. The best bit for me though is the new layout of Tiger Challenge. Forcing you to choose your route around a massive selection of events large and small, this new layout is brilliant and adds a very welcome feature to the series.

As usual you need to enhance your characters abilities and this is determined by the success of your shots within the game. It works very well and the shop provides a nice distraction, while also adding to your powers.

One new game mode is Bingo, Bango, Bongo. Yes what a strange name, but actually it just means you get a point for when you reach the green first, closest to the pin and who sinks the ball in the cup with the lowest score. It is a nice addition and adds to what is a massive selection of content. Finally Tiger Woods feels like a whole game again as when it first appeared on the Xbox 360, it was mercilessly cut down as we moved into that next gen arena.

Everything we know about Tiger’s controls hasn’t altered either, except for making it easier to add draw or fade to the ball. Remember those tight dog legs with a few trees blocking your way? Well now you can apply this action before you hit the ball using the Right and Left bumper buttons. This is just another tedious addition that makes this game even simpler and maybe will put off a few veterans of the series, but a welcome addition to those who hate to try a usually risky manoeuvre.

One aspect where it is made noticeably harder is the teeing accuracy. With the slightest of waver in your analogue stick thrust, you can find yourself up to your neck in sand or even water as the ball hurtles to the nearest hazard. Taking your time has never been so important and lounging on your sofa will be sure to add even more problems with your technique. Tiger Woods is no longer a game where you can slouch, you need to be properly positioned in your chair or face the consequences. It can be quite brutal at times, but sure makes you concentrate more.

For the purists, you can even now use the old fashioned ‘three click’ system. This basically means just like from older games going way back into the history of this genre before analogue sticks, you pressed a button to start your swing, again to select power and again to select accuracy. Thankfully we have moved on from these classic systems, however for some reason it is back. Bit puzzled over this one as by far the better choice is the trusty analogue stick.

Putt Preview gives you a single chance to gain an aid to the putting line on each putt, however this seems a nice balanced way of giving you assistance without saying, ‘hit it here’!

EA have also introduced a method of sharing challenges around the world with other players, so you can see if you can avoid obstacles and beat or at least equal the challenger. This is certainly a nice feature to have and will add almost unlimited content without the need of EA to actually create it themselves… Very cunning!

When you eventually take this baby online, the massive library of mini games will no doubt keep us interested until the next years instalment and the four player online seems to run nicely.

Graphics

Nevermind Tiger Woods being in the game, what is really needed now is a tiger in the tank! The game engine is looking particularly drab with each year that passes looking less and less next generational. The trees are looking shockingly bad and although the newer courses have an added sparkle, it only goes to show how the older courses need some drastic tender loving care.

Tiger Woods 08 really is starting to show its warts this year as the games consistently raise the barrier on what next gen really is. Tiger Woods is seriously starting to lag behind other titles, even many from that of the other EA Sports titles and it does decrease your enjoyment.

Yes the characters look great and mapping your face onto your custom character will no doubt bring a few cheesy laughs to your mates, which is achieved by uploading a photo to the EA Sports website or using the Live Vision Camera, but the engine needs sorting out to keep this series in check!

Unfortunately my hopes aren’t that high, as Tiger Woods on the original Xbox suffered from the same problem of lack lustre graphics, which had nothing really changed all the way through its life time. I will expect a lot more in Tiger Woods 09, but don’t hold your breath!

Sound

Although a slightly less sarcastic commentary appears from time to time, (you know the type you actually hear when watching a golf game!), it doesn’t appear enough and instead we still have to endure the countless feeble attempts of humour. Please, please, please do something about this next year before I have to disable the commentary completely.

The sound of birds and the sea are ever present and will add a nice gentle touch to the title, however that commentary will spoil any sense of relaxation as you grit your teeth together and try and bear it.
Musically it is actually one of the best additions this year. It just seems to work very well especially when running some practice shots.

Longevity

With a ton of game modes, online features and career selections, Tiger boasts some of the best content you can buy. There is certainly enough here to keep you pressing buttons and flipping analogue sticks for hours and hours to come.

Conclusion

Tiger Woods 08 can sit quite happily at the top today as it remains the best golfing experience on any platform, however presentation is starting to suffer badly each year and needs to be addressed with haste.

You can’t find a better title to test your skills, relax and challenge your mates, but with expectations raising ever higher, Tiger needs to seriously consider catching up before we leave him behind.

Rating: ★★★★☆