The Tiger Woods franchise of golf games for the Microsoft Xbox seem to come and go each year with a few new courses, a few new modes and the odd gimmick here and there in an effort to keep the series alive. The developers constantly seem to take the approach that staying with what works and adding a few minor features will tempt us to buy it year in year out, but this safe way of thinking has doomed this game for previous owners before we even start this review.
Like previous Tiger Woods PGA Tour games, the amount of different game options is always astounding, although its all what we have seen before with just the odd new course both real and fantasy, new game modes and more importantly for us European gamers the availability of Xbox Live, which to be honest should have appeared in last years addition anyway!
You can of course play as Tiger Woods himself or one of 14 other PGA tour players. There are a total of 11 courses which include Reflection Bay, Cog Hill, St Andrews.
Creating a custom character remains the key part of the title, with a mind boggling selection of ways you can alter and tailor your invention. The random option should be avoided at all costs though unless you want your character to look like someone only a mother would love. Sticking out noses, obscure eyes and a massive chin will result in anyone daring enough to take this character online.
‘Rivals’ Mode is probably the most novel addition adding a way of travelling through time to compete against past heroes all dressed in their relative attire for that period of time. Once you have built up your custom character, this is nothing more then a romp through another game section and rewards you with very little challenge.
This is the story throughout the whole game, a fairly easy ride through the entire game and to get the most satisfaction out of the competition, you will definitely need to take the game online against your friends to get the most benefit.
Although Tiger Woods has always been a good gameplay achievement and if you have yet to play any previous Tiger Woods game on Xbox, this latest edition is certainly worth a look, but owners of any previous edition will feel it’s just more of the same.
Tiger Woods 06 may not have blown me away this year, but there have been some interesting additions (including some deserved removals) of features in the game. Most noticeably is the putting, no more Tiger Vision or Caddy Tips to help line your shot, instead you can invoke a virtual perfect shot that will show you the path the ball should take to land nicely in the cup, however this again makes redundant the need for all the fancy indicators that show elevation making an intelligent putt again far too assisted taking away the main challenge of golf.
The swing is another area that has seen some tweaking, this time the right analog stick (shape stick) becomes a way to add variation to your shot. This is shown in the bottom right of your screen where you line up the dot on your golf ball to manipulate its path. This is novel and new, however you will probably more often then not use the left analog swing alone unless you really are in a tricky situation.
The gimmicks don’t stop there though, let me now announce the new ‘Gamebreaker’ Meter which increases with great shots, and decreases with poor ones. Although I like this idea in principal, the reward can be nothing more then an extra powerful swing, and then that’s it. One shot and you are back to the flat level where you have to build it up all over again. I would have preferred to see better control over spin or higher luck factors allowing for easier recoveries in tough positions rather then a single swing spectacular that is soon forgotten. Maybe a ‘Confidence’ Meter would be more effective and worthwhile?
Graphics and Presentation
There have been a few Tiger games for the Xbox of which I have played them all, so each year I hope for one thing over everything else to be enhanced and worked on in a tender way to improve the game to make purchasing this time around worth while. This is of course the graphics, which even with this latest release suffers from PS2 style graphics and low resolution textures. With the announcement of Xbox 360 and screenshots from the Xbox 360 version of this game doing its round, it’s hard to even class the Xbox and the Xbox 360 as the same title. The difference in graphics is stark and the Xbox version will wither to an embarrassing whimper as it sits alone in the dark part of your shelf.
I am hoping like myself that many of you have pre-ordered or are going down to your local game dealer to pick up an Xbox 360. I was hoping with the Xbox 360 title going through such major enhancements graphically that this year, the Xbox version (like other Xbox games such as FIFA 06 which has totally taken the graphics to a new level) would also see some major improvements. Of course I can’t expect graphics near to next generation standards, but some noticeable attempt to please would have been nice but alas expect the same looking textures and style to all the courses which quite frankly results in yet another dreary lack lustre update.
The overall presentation of the menus and screens are far nicer then previous Tiger Woods titles, however all it is now is a gloss over trying to hide the obvious imperfections visually everywhere else.
If you have played the very first Tiger Woods PGA Tour for Xbox, then Tiger Woods 06 will reveal nothing graphically better, that’s how bad it is.
Commentary is far more serious this time around which for me is a large relief, golf is a serious game after all, although the odd wise crack is made, the overall feel is much kinder to the tradition of this classic sport.
The usual bird chirping, sea crashing against the land and the crowd shouting with a shameless endorsement ‘I love this game’ will echo through your speakers. I am still not overly crazed by the Tiger Shot sounds on a very powerful swing, but hey it’s all good fun I suppose.
The music is a nice selection of more laid back tunes this year, although I would love to see some original dedicated music to the game instead of the licensed tracks that can be purchased today. Anyone remember the music from Actua Golf 2 on the PC?
Tiger Woods is back with another feature packed title, but don’t get too excited as the only reason you will really want this game is for the online play. The new so called additions only result in a new way to exploit an aging game engine that has suffered from day one.
Previous Tiger fans will find only more of the same, making this title nothing more then a clone with a tweak here and there. Very disappointing for Tiger fans!