Tiger Woods PGA Tour 07
Recently I had the chance to check out Pro Stroke Golf: World Tour 2007. In that review I admitted to not being fully versed in the sport and to be frank I have never actually played a hole in real life (unless you count mini-golf). I have spent a decent amount of time playing through golf video games though the majority of that time has been with kookier titles like Toadstool Tour and Hot Shots. Over the years I have played a little bit of the Tiger Woods PGA Tour franchise but to be honest I wouldn't consider myself an expert on the series.
That being said I found this year's installment by EA to be the quintessential golf game. I have never played a title with this many modes nor have I experience a game as robust. Whether you're a fan of the series or a novice (like myself) this game will grab a hold of you an keep you glued to the set for a good long time. EA's domination of the sports market continues and unlike this year's Madden game this one beats par on just about every course.
After playing through Pro Stroke Golf my virtual taste buds were left unsatisfied. Sure it was a bargain title on every front and yes it was never designed to be a Tiger Woods killer but the game was just downright boring. Clunky controls and an underwhelming presentation did nothing to help matters. With that in mind stepping into Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2007 is like a breath of fresh air. Refined controls, innovative modes and tons of gameplay features keep this one at the top of the food chain. If you're on the fence as far as which golf game to play; let this be the one.
When you first fire up the disc you are assaulted with so many modes and features that for the uninitiated it can be daunting. I hadn't played a Tiger game in more than a few years so I had a tough time just trying to decide where I wanted to start. I figured I'd get things underway with the PGA Tour Season Mode.
Before you can really begin playing in the Season Mode you have to build a profile. The create-a-player feature found in this game is without a doubt one of the most robust that I have ever encountered. You can literally change every aspect of your players appearance from facial features to body features and even buy different clothes. To top if all off the colors can be altered as well though don't expect a rainbow of options in that regard. Once you've taken the time to make your virtual avatar it's time to get underway with your thirty year tournament career.
Once you get started building your golfing empire and carving a name for yourself across the digital landscape you're presented with a calendar of events. This is nothing new to the world of sports games as many of these events require admissions fees and certain qualifications before you're allowed to participate. Each tournament consists of four rounds of play and they take place in a plethora of locations. As you play your way through the course you'll also be able to see how you're doing compared to the rest of the pack. Playing to and beating par becomes a challenge on many of these holes but constantly having the progression of other players shoved in your face is a great motivator.
Working your way through the Season Mode is without a doubt one of the longest lasting experiences available in this game but it is in no way the only one. So many other modes make the cut here and the career feature barely scratches the surface of what's available.
Under the option of Traditional Game Modes resides ten more ways for you to play the game. Stroke Play is basically a single or multiplayer experience that allows you to play through 9 or 18 holes of a chosen course. Match Play is basically the same as Stroke but it's a variation that adds a certain amount of competitive flair as each hole becomes a contest for the top spot. Bloodsome and Greensome are basically the same modes which feature players being forced to use the same ball. Rounding things out in this category are Skins, Practice, Stableford, Alternate Shot, Best Ball, and Four-Ball. Many of these modes are interesting and worth checking out but as far as longevity is concerned there is far better story available in this game.
Skills18 Mode is a variation of Stroke Play that definitely adds a challenging element to the game. Instead of just trying to get that elusive hole in one you also have to attempt to hit your ball through different colored rings while trying to keep it in bounds. If you're looking to hone your skills with the club this is definitely an exercise that will do that for you. If you're looking for a daily golfing excursion that's different depending on the day you'll want to check out the Real Time Event Calendar. Based on your system's set up it will give you a variety of events and something different virtually every time you check in.
As far as other modes are concerned I found Skillzone to be entertaining because of the different concepts that it offered. It forces you to play through some different games such as one similar to H.O.R.S.E. and another that makes you aim for specific targets. Just like Skills18 this feature was another way to really hammer down your technique while having a good time. Yet more modes are available such as Elimination and One-Ball. Next to the Season Mode the next best satisfying feature that the 2007 Tiger Woods game offers is the Team Tour. Here you put together a squad of four golfers and work your way up to the top as you try to oust Tiger and his crew. In many of these modes you'll also earn Experience Points that can alter your custom character's attributes. This adds a nice level of depth to an already involved game.
As far as the gameplay itself is concerned it is nearly as solid as the many modes featured here. The dual analog control is changed since the last time I came to a Tiger game. The left analog stick is responsible for controlling your swing. By pulling it down and pushing it up you line up for a straight shot but by angling it slightly you can add a hook to your swing that proves beneficial in many circumstances. Button pressed modifiers also come into play and can affect the power behind your swing and spin on the ball. The right analog is used to determine where exactly your club will make impact with the ball. Fine tuning these elements is a constant thing and it changes in every situation depending if you're on the green, in a sand trap or just lining up a putt (though the mechanics change somewhat for this type of shot).
Throughout the game Tiger Woods PGA Tour 07 is the pinnacle of digital golfing. Every mode here is fine tuned and very in depth. Some of these are much better than others since the majority are just different takes on the same concept but overall there's enough to keep you busy for a long time.
The only issues I really came across while playing was some spotty AI. There were times where the CPU would miraculously start sinking shot after shot and others where they would merely lob the ball out of bounds constantly. There's a certain consistency issue at play there but it's not nearly enough to kill the experience; it's merely an annoyance.
EA's franchise proves that it is the only golf game on the market that provides a well thought out, fun and semi-realistic experience. If you've been playing the series all along then you're probably already going to be picking this one up but if you haven't visited Tiger in a while it's time that you do so.
The visuals in Tiger Woods PGA Tour 07 are pretty impressive. Character models are realistic looking and many of the courses are downright breathtaking. Some animations look a little funny though and some of the environmental details get lost along the way. In the end it's not the best looking sports game ever conceived but it's certainly not the worse. The menus are easy to navigate and the interface is easy on the eyes at least.
Nearly on par with the graphics is the sound. The soundtrack is perfect for a golf game with none invasive tunes that are enjoyable for the most part. The sound effects are realistic as well though I'd venture to guess that they were ported over from 2006 like many of EA's sports franchises seem to do. The commentary available in the game is pretty spot on for the most part though after a while it does get to be kind of repetitive and useless.
With a good variety of courses to play on, modes to play through, and gameplay elements to tinker with Tiger Woods PGA Tour 07 is one of the best of its kind. There is so much to do here that it can be a little intimidating at first but seasoned veterans will have no problems jumping right in. If you're looking for a golf game to play as the weather gets colder then this one will keep you occupied right up until the spring.