The first thing you will notice when you access the menu screen is the very ungolf-like music. Heavy Rock and less then relaxing music is blasted through the speakers as if you were playing something like Amped or Dave Mirra BMX.
With a puzzled expression I moved on and noticed that rather than being just a golf game there have been attempts to make the game more interesting and exciting and the music just being one aspect where this has been pushed.
Graphically Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2003 has PS2 port written all over it. The textures are a little washed out and grainy and the trees are terrible blocky affairs, but generally the courses still have enough to make this game pleasurable to play. The sea effects hitting the coast and the mist from the waves travelling over a small Par 3 all add to the atmosphere. The characters themselves are not amazingly detailed like Dead or Alive 3 but have enough facial expressions and character to add enough realism to the people they portray.
There are also 3 fantasy like courses with castles with some very strange course designs which add a bit more interest and fun for a 2 player game. So all in all the graphics are pleasurable but suffer from being a port.
Anyone who has played earlier versions of this game on other formats will remember a feature called “Tiger Shot”. This is basically making Tiger Woods hit the ball at extreme power which adds some burst of fire. Not something you see in your usual golf games when watching on TV but adds a bit more interest to the game to what can usually be a unrewarding genre. Very early golf games on PC used a three or two click method to hit the ball. This involved clicking the mouse at relevant points of the swing to get better accuracy and power. This system was later replaced by using the mouse to control the swing by moving the mouse up and down. This was very hap-hazard especially if you had a mouse with a ball which always gets clogged up with dirt and dust. Thankfully the Xbox version uses the analogue controller stick to get, with practice, hopefully the perfect swing. This works incredibly well with a bit of practice and makes the console experience for me much more enjoyable then the PC incarnations.
As with any good golf game you are treated to some popular courses. Tiger Woods 2003 is not lacking with 9 famous courses like St Andrews and Pebble Beach also adding not forgetting the fantasy courses. All look pleasant and are interesting to play. St Andrews though looks very grainy and is hard to tell the grass from the rough but hey we like a challenge.
Obviously you also have a good selection of players such as Tiger Woods himself and others like Vijay Singh, Mark O’Meara, Justin Leonard and some fantasy players.
As always you can unlock extra courses and players by progressing through a “Tiger Challenge” and earning lots of cash to boost your own custom player. Now this is strange for me as custom golfers are only really any fun if you have friends who also have the game and have set up their own custom player to face against you. I would have loved to see this game on Xbox Live! then maybe there would be more point to this but unfortunately we will have to hope that the next version will have the feature. The game does brag some online ability to show people your statistics such as earnings. This is done by a slow procedure of registering on the Tiger Woods 2003 website at EA Sports and by playing the game you can receive a code to add to the website to add your stats. This is slow and doesn’t fully open until January 2003 and people after using Xbox Live! stats will find this slightly disappointing.
The commentary tries to emulate in places NHL 2002’s humour but in a golf game it doesn’t quite come over the same and I would have liked to see my favourite golf commentator Peter Allis instead but hey its bearable.