Golf superstar Tiger Woods invites gamers back to the links in this "06" edition of EA's exclusive pro golfing game. Once again, players can use EA Sports' "Game Face" tools to create their own custom golfer, and then prove their skills on the virtual links against stars of the sport both past and present, including Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Ben Hogan, and of course, Tiger himself. A total of 21 real-life golfers are represented, on 11 PGA Tour courses, with 3 additional fantasy courses. New to this year's edition is a "Rival" mode, which allows gamers to challenge stars of the sport in the prime of their games.
Over the years, PC golfing and home console golfing has drifted ever closer. Despite the shared development processes, however, EA's team has managed to keep Tiger Woods PGA Tour 06 for PC completely tuned for the platform. It has all the structure of the console versions, only it's been tweaked to cater best to PC gamers. If you're more into simulating the golf experience, then you're going to love Tiger Woods 06. It is more true to the sport and packed with options than any golfing game out there.
The features list, modes and presentation is just awesome. It mirrors the consoles in design, but features 12 courses instead of 15, most official courses and some fantasy. It also comes complete with the new Rivals mode, which is more fleshed out than the console versions with presentation; you will have the ability to read golfing publications and newspaper reports on what's going on. Likewise, PGA Tour mode, is more complete than ever, where you can bring your amateur created golfer into it and work very hard to make your way to the top. You begin by hitting the course with your "buddies," and you'll see the AI duff shots into the tree line -- just like you probably will with lacking experience and novice attributes. As you earn more money, you will work your way up, get certified for PGA Tour play, and eventually take on the big boys. So, between these two huge career modes, there's a whopping amount of gameplay and it's presented wonderfully. In the PC version, for example, you'll have access to a stat-tracking device, a PDA with goals and challenges, the magazines, and much more.
Game Face is also more robust and flexible on the PC than it is in any other Tiger. It's arguably one of the most advanced create-a-face modes out there, minus the fact that you can't actually scan your face in yet. But, all the options load fast and those with experience can create a virtual look-alike in just a short time. So, a lot can be said for the way Tiger is structured on the PC and how it's presented to you. It's not perfect, but it's certainly really good. There are some downfalls. Rivals mode takes you through different eras, and you'll be able to enjoy some vintage clubs and clothes at the pro shop, and playing against Nicklaus of old, but you won't actually be on old or altered courses. In PGA Tour mode, you play with your buds or the pros, but the golfers don't make too many sounds, so it takes you out of the experience a little. Nonetheless, it's a great setup and if it's a hint of things to come, EA is really on track for the future. But it needs to stick to its guns and flesh out all the modes completely, instead of going halfway and then coming up with something new next year. Taking a year off to make this kind of jump happen, we feel, would go a long way.
Where the PC version shines best is the same place it always has: the swing mechanics. You have the options to use good old-fashioned three-click swings, a gamepad, or TrueSwing with the mouse. The latter is really the way to play, as swinging the mouse down and up like a club (or, optionally, left to right) best simulates the stroke of the club. The range of motion and sensitivity dwarfs what the consoles offer, and this is why you get such an authentic experience from Tiger on the PC. You add draw/fade by swinging diagonally, poor shots are more frequent, and there's a TrueSwing Analyzer that tells you exactly how you hit and what you did. Like with the previous builds, it feels great. But, it seems as if EA did spend some time tuning the TrueSwing more this year to make it a little less erratic, and subsequently more forgiving. This forgiveness level changes as you improve your stats or use a player like Tiger Woods , though, so it's a pretty good balance. Still, it would have been nice to have a slider that would allow you to alter the sensitivity and difficulty.
Putting works very much in the way that it has in the past. You can use the grid to read the nearby green surface; then, you line up your shot and swing with the mouse. It's pretty intuitive, although it does automatically limit your total potential swing to keep you fairly close to the hole, which takes the some of the challenge out of it. This seems to be part of the whole movement to make the game more accessible, and it may irk simulation purists a bit, but it's still an enjoyable putting game. However, the grid could have taken a few cues from the console versions and added in beads to give you a better idea of the surface shape. And, like the other versions of Tiger, putting could be advanced to be more challenging and focused on spending more time reading the greens, because that's where the game -- and your score -- are really going to vary.
Yet another area the PC version is stronger than its console brethren is obviously graphics. There are different artists and a lot more horsepower to work with, so you have a much wider range of visual effects, higher resolution textures, etc. It's going to depend on your setup, but Tiger 06 has a really flexible engine that works on a variety of PC setups. The range of lighting schemes and weather effects is a huge advantage for players, too. You'll experience soft morning sunrises, warm evening sunsets, as well as dreary, wet days with rolling fog. This is hugely important in extending the replay value, because not only do the conditions affect your game, but the variety will keep you coming back.
This all combines for a well-rounded, nicely polished franchise update. It's still missing some presentation elements, there could have been more courses, and EA seems to have lightened up on the difficulty options, but it's a really impressive package nonetheless. It's even got online, which if you combine with the Pro Shop, Rivals Mode, PGA Tour, custom games, and all the rest, is a huge amount of replay value. Well done and recommended.
This is a great golfing package. I prefer the PC version to the consoles, and PSP, simply because it offers more depth and more options. Every year I cry for more options, and Tiger 06 on PC has quite a few of them. You can choose from four different swing options. You get to play the game that works for you. Now, they've stripped away some of the difficulty settings, which is a little frustrating, but it still offers more of that real golf scent than the rest of the versions.
EA has hit a point where it continues to pull out the same old stops: strip out some courses, add in a few new ones; slightly upgrade the visuals; create new pro shop goodies and so on. It's like a yearly expansion pack in some ways, and while that's great for hardcore fans, it does seem to take away from the potential that Tiger could make some serious leaps if the development team is given time.
Tiger 06 offers up one of the best golfing experiences, but it continues to skimp in some areas of presentation and options, seemingly in favor for this yearly update.
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