Tiger Woods PGA Tour
Release Date:December 1, 2009
Summary:Hit the links at Pebble Beach, St. Andrews, and other top courses... during your daily commute.
Tiger Woods plays Golf?! You wouldn’t have a very good sense of his abilities if all you read were the tabloids – well, you wouldn’t have a good sense about his abilities outside of the bedroom. Now that I got that out of the way (really, how can I ignore it?), let’s take a look at Tiger Woods PGA Tour for the iPhone/iPod Touch.
EA Sports should issue a declaimer: long-time fans of the now decade old franchise of Tiger Woods Golf may suffer a bout of nostalgia when playing this game – it feels and looks like Tiger Woods ’99, a game beloved by many me. Of course, I was 15 years old and hanging out with my ten-years-older brother and his friends, so my trip down nostalgia lane may be a bit more nostalgic than others’. The look and feel of this game are so like the original PlayStation version that it makes me wonder if they somehow ported the game over. That’s highly unlikely, I know, but I’m not kidding. Save for a few differences, improvements really, it’s remarkably similar. The graphics, the physics, the feel of the game are all so similar that it makes me wonder, at $4.99, how they ever charged $50!
Wait, this game is similar to one from Nineteen Hundred and Ninety Nine? That was a decade ago: last century, last millennium! It’s actually not that similar, it’s much better. To start off, I have to say I was really impressed when I played Real Tennis 2009 after Jackie reviewed it yesterday – the graphics and playability were top notch. The game is hard, but not in an annoying way; it’s hard in a way that makes you want to persevere, to even buy the full app. Tiger Woods PGA Tour, on the other hand, is a bit underwhelming. Don’t get me wrong, I played the hell out of this game for a month or so, but mostly because I love Golf. The game hits the intricacies of Golf right on the sweet spot. You can choose from multiple swing types (full, pitch, chip, punch and lob); you can put spin on the ball (top, back, side); you can shape your shots to draw or fade. Of course, the extent to which you can use these shots depends on your upgrades.
You start the game as a novice and you must play rounds of golf to make money progress in order to purchase equipment upgrades for your game. There are upgrades for putting, recover and power, to name a few. Initially, it’s a challenge to stay on the course and earn money for upgrades and tournaments, but once you get over the initial hump the rest of the game is like a playing winter rules in the summer from the red tees (what??). Read: it’s too easy. After a few hours you’ll learn to read putts and use the putt preview (hint: use the putt preview after you line your putt up and adjust accordingly). And after a few hours you’ll realize playing single rounds is a waste and you’ll enter a tournament and see that the payout amount increases tenfold compared to single rounds, even if you don’t win. And once you start winning tournaments the upgrade costs become a thing of the past. Essentially, you go from a novice to a monster that not even Tiger can compete with. At the point, the game gets stale, well, after a little while of completely destroying the courses.
The game comes with a few courses ready to play (Pebble Beach, St. Andrews) and along your way to Godliness you unlock more. Thanks to the 3.0 software update you can even – now, in the latest versions – buy additional courses from the Pro Shop in-game, but I haven’t. $0.99 for an additional course? Nice try, EA. In addition to useless features such as the Pro Shop, Tiger Woods PGA Tour has a number of glitches and incomplete areas that really bring the experience down in my book.
First, the score-keeping is inaccurate. One time I was at about -50 through 54 holes (yeah, exactly: insane) and had to quit. I chose to save my progress and quit, as opposed to just hitting the home button. When I returned my score was drastically lower, in the -30s. Big deal? Well, yeah. I don’t know if there’s a score limitation by design, or if it is a glitch, but it should correctly record your score, period. Another annoying glitch is the fact that the game only starts about every other time. When it doesn’t work it hangs on the loading screen but eventually just kicks you back to your home screen. Here are some more glitches: when you’re putting, the suspense of whether it will drop or miss is completely ruined since the camera shot for a make is the same 99% of the time, as is the camera shot for a miss; when playing on uneven ground, such as out of a pot bunker, your character will hit the ball and walk towards the shot, sending him straight into the ground like he’s wading in water.
The biggest miss this game makes is the vast separation between your character and other players in the game. Once you get to a certain point, it’s absolutely dumbfounding how much better you are. In ridiculous games like the old NFL Blitz series, it was even. In this game, it’s far from. They could have at least included a difficulty setting so you can play against people who don’t shoot -10 when you’re shooting -50. I haven’t tried the multiplayer option for lack of camaraderie, but that could be a solution to the lack of competition in the game, itself.
Tiger Woods PGA Tour is definitely worth the $4.99 price tag, but it’s not a great game. It’s fun, but not fantastic. It misses on technical notes, but what I feel is really important is that you learn to feel the shots. You can go from calculating distances based on yardage and percentages to simply knowing the shot, which is something I never fully experienced in the console versions I played.