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Tiger Woods PGA Tour 08 Package Art
GENRE
Sports
DEVELOPER
EA Tiburon
PUBLISHER
Electronic Arts
LOCAL WIRELESS
MULTI-PLAY
Yes
Wi-Fi/GLOBAL ONLINE
MULTI-PLAY
Yes
MICROPHONE
No
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Tiger Woods PGA Tour 08

This yearís iteration of the popular Tiger Woods franchise tees off a solid redesigned of last yearís subpar effort with brand new touch swing controls. Despite the overall improvement, some of the finer points are still a little rough around the edges.

visuals

Tiger Woods PGA Golf 08 looks like many other 3D DS games. The courses are bare and without detail. The textures are blurry, and itís hard to discern the lay of the ball when everything looks flat. Animations are limited to the golf swing and the bouncing ball. Even your golfer is rather low on the polygons, and itís difficult to notice the subtle differences between some of the clothes you get to try on. Oddly enough, due to new video compression technology for DS, several cutscenes of famous golfers are included for your viewing pleasure.

The HUD is well laid out, with your golfer on the touch screen and the pin on top. The touch screen features a mini-map to the right of your golfer (or left for southpaws), which you can touch to zoom in to the main map. On both maps a cursor is displayed showing you the probable length of your hit and where your ball will first strike. A caddy hat in the lower left corner brings up a menu allowing you to cycle through your clubs and change your shot to a punch, flop, putt or chip. Other necessary information (par, wind, yards to pin, etc.) is cleanly placed around both screens.

audio

Sound is strangely missing. Itís as if the audio files simply didnít get included when the game was compiled and sent out for production. Thereís only one guitar groove that plays over the menu. When youíre on course, the sound effects are limited to the strike of the ball, the ball landing, a few bird chirps and the occasional crowd cheers. Thereís none of the usual commentary and no music. When considering the inclusion of FMV, the lack of sound is a glaring flaw, which lends a real sense of isolation to the game, as itís just you, your ball and a couple of birds.

gameplay

If thereís one thing Tiger Woods PGA Tour 08 does well, itís that it plays a fine game of portable golf. Veterans will be right at home, and even novices will soon pick up the basics. This yearís boasts three selectable control methods: 2 tap, 3 tap or touch. Longtime fans will recognize the 2 tap (power and accuracy) and 3 tap (power, swing check and accuracy) as the standard golf controls from yesteryear.

New this year is the touch swing: simply touch the ball in the middle of the screen, stroke down for the desired power (thereís a grid overlay with ticks dividing the swing power into quarters), and then finish with a smooth upward stroke. Keeping your stroke smooth is key: a little bit to the left or right will hook or slice your shot. After hitting the ball, the usual Tiger Woods spin meter returns, but in touch form. Rapidly stroking the touch screen while the ball in airborne will cause the ball to spin in the direction you stroke. The overall experience is both tactile and effective.

Tiger Woods has always been known for having the best create-a-character around, and 08 is no exception. On your first play, you will create your golfer by selecting various body options, choosing your wardrobe an tweaking your stats. Once youíre set, 08 offers up Practice, Challenge and PGA Tour modes. Exhibition allows you to choose one of a dozen courses, set your rules (penalties, skin vs. stroke, etc.) and youíre off to the green. You can choose to play an entire course, the front 9, back 9, random 5 or random 3.

Challenge mode lets you sharpen your chipping, driving, putting and irons skills, often while squaring off against an opponent. Winning the challenge nets you cash; in addition, hitting a great shot rewards you with cash bonuses i.e. a long drive (), green in regulation (0), pin seeker (0), birdie (0), etc. The Challenges are set up across a menu shaped like a golf ball. When you begin, only four challenges are unlocked with no entrance fee. Winning these unlocks additional challenges with increased entrance fees and larger purses for you to win.

PGA Tour mode is, as always, where the meat of Tiger Woods lies. Entering the mode takes you to a calendar where the multi-day tournament on a specific course is featured. Here you will pay the sizeable entrance fee in hopes of winning a respectable purse from under the noses of golfís finest. During the tourney you will play the course several times in hopes of performing well enough to qualify for the next day of the tourney. Along the way you will have plenty of time to net additional cash bonuses off of good golf play.

After you have proven yourself to be quite the golfer, and a greedy one at that, you can blow all your hard earned cash on a Tiger Woods staple: upgrading your character. 08 features a dozen different stats ranging from clubbing accuracy to luck. As always, upgrading your character provides a noticeable improvement to your game and keeps you competitive. In addition, you will unlock various trophies, awards and addition game content as you proceed through the game.

Despite having all its bases covered, 08 falls short in a few key ways. First off is the lack of personality that has come to dominate console Tiger Woods. Gone are the silly commentators, the over the top animations, the goofy golfers and that sense of charm that set Tiger Woods apart. Whatís left is something stale and lifeless.

Second, putting, hitting from the rough and hitting from a sandtrap is frustrating. Putting features the usual Tiger Woods grid overlay complete with the dots trickling downhill. Thereís even a caddy tip to help ease your pain. But sadly, you canít see the contours of the green -- it's always a flat surface. The same goes for hitting from the rough or a trap, which doesnít even provide you with an estimate of how deep your ball is buried or how to check your shot. With no graphical representation of the landscape, youíre left in the dark about your swing. You might as well just swing randomly and hope for the best.

Third, the mini-map displayed on the right side of the touch screen is slightly off with the main map. Fifth, the wind effect isnít constant, but exponentially affects play as it rises. Sixth, getting enough money to enter tournaments at the beginning of the game can be difficult for novices. Finally, by hesitating your touch swing slightly after swinging back, you can make your swing more powerful. A small cursor placed directly under the stylus changes color to clue you in. Unfortunately, itís impossible to see when itís right under the stylus.

Despite these shortcomings, O8 still plays a fine round of portable golf. While Tiger Woods is much more of a sim than Touch Swing -- that other DS golf game -- it still holds its own. Fans of the series and of golf should give it a look.

multiplayer

08 really shines in multiplayer by offering Wi-Fi, single card download, multi-card and even hotseat. Playing with another player has never been so easy. Much like the single player Practice mode, you can choose a course and golfer, set your rules and itís off to the green with a friend or three. Kudos to EA for including what is possibly the most complete multiplayer experience on DS. Just about any single player option can also be played in multiplayer, including using your own create-a-character.

overall

For portable golf, Tiger Woods PGA Tour 08 has it where it counts. Its flaws should encourage a cautious purchase, but in many respects, the robust multiplayer makes up for it. As with any golf game, a passing knowledge and interest is golf is required. Hereís hoping for the best for next year.

final score 7.0/10





WRITER INFORMATION
Staff Avatar Abraham Walters
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"The cake is a lie."


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