Review by DD2004

"A step back. Not as good as previous games."

Well here it is, Tiger Woods PGA Tour 08. Now, personally, I had high expectations of this, but it just didn't meet them, there really wasn't much good enough to make it stand out from the other Tiger Woods PGA Tour series.

Firstly, the good points, graphically there seems to have been some improvements, animations seem to run smoother and quicker, and it overall feels more finely tuned that other games in the series. The Game Face mode seems like the same as last year though, it's easily possible to create an exact replica of the same golfer you've used in previous Tiger Woods PGA Tour games, and it won't look much different. The courses seem to have been improved though, the leaves on trees seem more solid and the grass doesn't seem as "flaky" as before, so overall, the graphics have certainly improved.

Then there's the physics engine. Seems the same as ever. Until you hit a tree. Most objects around you are solid now, so there's not much chance of getting lucky anymore by hitting your ball through a tree and getting on the green in one easily. Bounces seem slightly more realistic too, especially out of the rough or in the bunkers, there's less chance of your ball being able to skim through the deep rough or bounce out of the wet bunkers. The animations seem to have been improved slightly. Last year's attempt didn't feel as if the swing was completely smooth, it was as if there was a jolt part way through your swing, and that didn't feel like a realistic golf sim, fortunately, that seems to have been improved with more smoothness generated, especially on the transition from the backswing to the downswing.

The Tiger Challenge mode is the next point. This is where it starts going downhill, it's a good, ambitious idea for a big main game mode, but ambition doesn't make a great game. The actual playability of it does. The Tiger Challenge seems fun at first, but even though it gets harder, it also gets repetitive after a while, and you only really play through it to unlock the courses and finish the game. It seems tacked on as you progress through it, and it feels as if it's just a desperate attempt to lengthen the main game mode. Although it's always nice to beat Tiger at the end in 1-on-1 competition, the road to actually playing against him is long and hard, a lot of the less determined players may find it hard to stay focused with it and to stay in it until the end. But it does feel rewarding to beat Tiger and to be able to play on all the courses the game has to offer.

However, here's something not completely new or different, but in some ways annoying for some people. A lot of players may be used to the "classic" Alternate putting system where you had a line and a caddy tip to help you putt, but that's not as easy this time around, because there's no Alternate putting style available in the Tiger Challenge, The PGA Tour, or the new FedEx Cup Playoffs. This was a disappointment to me, it means I have to learn the Standard Putting style, which is something I'd rather not do, I'd sooner be playing through an enjoyable game than spending hours learning a system that's forced onto you rather suddenly.

Sounds are a big point in any game, and it's no different here, but one thing bugged me last year, and it bugs me still, the sound of a driver hitting a ball. You just don't get the feel that you're hitting a big hit or even a decent hit when it sounds like you've hit the ball with a hollow club, this needs fixing, it doesn't sound realistic enough. The game's actual soundtrack however, is at least different as always, there's some ok music in there, but most of it is music that'd put you off when trying to concentrate on sinking 50 foot putts for the world championship. Again on the issue of sound, the commentary doesn't seem to work a lot of the time, it just cuts out, and you're forced to play entire rounds with no sound other than your hits, the occasional bird chirp, and maybe a crazed fan shouting at you. Also on the point of commentary, this is the same stuff anyone who's played any other Tiger Woods games from the past few years would've heard before, they don't seem to have recorded many, if any, new lines for the two commentators, who, although they were once witty and sometimes annoying, at least weren't sounding repetitive and old. Like what a lot of this game does.

Overall playability is ok however, it's just that it needs a lot of work done on it before it can really be called great. There is at least the new confidence stat, which makes taking risky shots a little bit more risky, and makes being a low ability player even harder, but this tends to not make too much difference after you improve your attributes and play each course a few times over. There's the new FedEx cup mode to fall back on if you become bored of the PGA Tour and Tiger Challenge modes, but that's not much different from the PGA Tour, so that can too quickly become tedious and annoying. There's no new game modes other than the two aforementioned, so nothing really to surprise and excite, so it doesn't seem to live upto expectations as well as its predecessors.

I'm sure EA can do better than this. I'm also hoping that there's something better coming when we see Tiger Woods 09.

Reviewer's Rating:   2.5 - Playable

Originally Posted: 12/20/07

Game Release: Tiger Woods PGA Tour 08 (EU, 08/31/07)

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