IGN Review of Tiger Woods PGA Tour 07
EA's preeminent golf franchise first made its next-gen premiere last year alongside the launch of the Xbox 360. Tiger Woods PGA Tour 06 brought high-res visuals to the series, but it dropped a lot of the features and content that had made past games in the series so good. This year's release brings much of the content back into the game, making Tiger Woods PGA Tour 07 not only feel like a complete and full-featured title, but also one of the most refreshing and best in the series yet.
There's still not quite as much stuff in here as there used to be. The calendar events have yet to return, and the amount of clothing and accessory options at your disposal are still rather stringent when compared to the massive catalog in the current-gen games. But last year's course count has doubled, numbering an even dozen this time around. Game Face is just as good as ever, and the PGA Tour Season mode is good stuff.
Where the game has changed and improved the most however is on the course. The biggest change to the series is the True Aiming mechanic. Rather than having a pinpoint dot that you use to aim, you're in control of a large circle, an area that your golfer is aiming towards. The idea here is that if you hit the ball well, it'll drop somewhere in this area, but you don't have precise control over it like before. The better your golfer, the more ideal your lie and the "safer" your shot, the smaller your circle will be.
This is somewhat true, but not to a tee. If you nail a perfect swing, you'll still wind up hitting the very center of this circle. Where there's a lot of play though is in the 90 - 99% accuracy range. Even if you think you've nailed a shot, it still may wind up 10 yards away from where you were aiming. It's a really neat way to make you play a little safer and with a little more strategy. All too often before you could tell whether or not you'd just hit the edge of a crevice if you nailed the shot, but for the most part this is no longer true. It's cool stuff.
This ties into the overall feel that this latest Tiger Woods is a fair bit harder than many of the previous games. As you generally can't be as picture-perfect as in the past, you'll find that you'll wind up in the bunker more often than before, or at the very least have to play a bit safer to prevent said beach venture.
One thing that really stresses the game's increase in difficulty is its putting, and partly for negative reasons. By default, the Ideal Putt Camera is turned off, so you need to line up everything by eye. The great part about this is that when you sink a putt from 30 feet on a wildly undulating green, you really get the feeling that you've done something great. When your on-screen persona pumps his fist and dances around the green, you'll be right there with him.
One of the issues that we have with putting however is that the analog stick movement doesn't seem to be linear with regards to your swing's power. Pulling back the stick half-way doesn't mean that you'll swing at 50% power - rather, it's probably more like 75%. This makes it really hard to putt at anything but full strength, so you'll over or undershoot the hole fairly often.
While putting strength is commonly curious, this occasionally happens with mid-hole shots as well. Sometimes you'll swing and overshoot your target area by a fair distance, even sometimes when shooting uphill, which doesn't make a whole lot of sense. If your golfer is supposed to be capable of driving the ball a maximum of 180 yards with a 5 iron and then you smack it 220 and into a river, there wasn't much you could have done to have prepared for that. This seems to be a fairly rare fluke as we normally didn't have a problem with this, but it's somewhat confusing when it does happen.
Despite these problems, the game is immensely fun. You'll derive a whole ton of satisfaction from taking a chance on your second stroke on a long par 5, nailing the shot and then sinking the putt for an eagle. The game's increased level of difficulty makes things generally more rewarding, and in turn a great deal more fun.
Visually speaking, Tiger Woods PGA Tour 07 actually looks much better up close than far away, believe it or not. The mip-map textures for the fairway gets quite blurry out in the distance, and if you're at just the right spot, you can see the resolution change between one section and the next. You'll also notice repeated textures in a few areas, like the signature rocky waterside at Pebble Beach or a dense group of trees along a hole. The framerate does occasionally chop up a bit when the camera pans around, but it never affects gameplay.
Up close though, the golfers are extremely detailed, with nary a sharp edge to be made out. Tiger Woods himself of course looks best, though many of the other licensed golfers look quite fantastic as well. The game has an overall cartoonish look to it, with clothing looking a bit flat at times, but it's an overall visually pleasing title. We do however hope that EA works towards a more realistic approach in future games.
One PlayStation 3-specific feature of the game is its Motion Sensor Spin Control via the SIXAXIS controller. Rather than having to tap L1 or X to apply spin to the ball after a shot, you can hold X and tilt the controller. It works reasonably well in practice, though it's more exciting to tap the button repeatedly simply because you're more involved.
©2006-11-15, IGN Entertainment, Inc. All Rights Reserved