Tiger Woods PGA Tour 07
Since a couple of years, let’s say since 2005, I’ve started an accute interest for golf games, and more specifically the Tiger Woods titles from EA Sports. Before that period I would stay away from that Tiger with his little white balls because it looked as such a boring thing to hit a ball into a hole with a stick that has a deformed ending. When PGA Tour 06 was released in 2005 on the X360 my brother found it necessary to buy it and to make a long story short: I now find it one of the best sports games available!
Although golf remains golf and there’s little to change about the atmosphere, EA did succeed to improve the game on all aspects with 07. The most remarkable change is the showing of emotions with the players. The really react to everything that happens in the game, both on what they do themselves as what the opponent does, and this with incredibly realistic facial expressions. You won’t almost start crying along when you put a ball in a bunker… so to speak of course.
These expressions aren’t the only innovation, also the hitting system has undergone some serious improvement. At EA they call it the “True Aiming Swing System”. What this means? The better you time your hit, the further and more accurate it will be. Take accurate with a grain of salt though, you no longer aim for one point like the stick you place in 06, but now you’ll be hitting to land in a circle you’ve chosen. Indeed, your hittin accuracy depends also a bit on luck. The further you want to hit, the bigger the field your ball can end. For instance, with a Driver (the club you use for the first hit of a hole) has an enormously large space it can land in. On the other hand, that field is a lot smaller if you use a 9 Iron.
Another improvement (and a huge one) is the way you can put effect on the ball. Previously you need to hit the left shoulder button to put extra force in your hit and next to that you had to pull the right analog stick to get some effect… sounds impossible? Well, that’s past time! Now you can spin the ball by pulling your left analog down left and making a diagonal move. You won’t need 49 hands anymore to put some curl on your ball.
It’s clear, it’s all innovation here, but it doesn’t end with that! To make the whole game feel a bit more realistic, EA sports made that while playing you feel like watching a TV broadcast, live on ESPN! This has been done by giving the presentation to the known American sports channel. In combination with the extremely good facial expressions this is just phenomenal!
Next to all these changes and innovations there are also plenty of newcomers in the game modes. Next to the previous possibilities you can now also check out minigames like Capture-the-Flag, Target to Target and many others which all have a similar goal: hit the ball as near as possible to a given target. Then there’s of course the career mode where you have to start a golf player and make him one of the world’s best. You can let him or her train on a practise field where you have to do small things to increase the skills. What EA did think of (and a smart move) is that you can’t just start training to get your skill at 100%. You always start with a top of 10% and once there with training you need to play some contests to increase that level to again be able to train and improve. The better you get, the further you go. Logic, no?
Graphically the game remains a pearl, also thanks to the high detail in the face. Rinkles, birth marks, scar tissue… name it. They’re all visible and sometimes get even more noticeable when emotions are shown. Also the surroundings are still breathtaking with vast fields, beautifull done trees and grass… especially lots of grass.
What would a Tiger Woods PGA Tour be without the commentary? An important addition to the amusement factor of this game… They add lots of humour and this makes a nice variation to the rather boring sound of birds, planes flying over, and water where you’ll probably let you ball end up in. In other words, next to the commentary you’ve got environment sounds that do their job and you’ll probably won’t hear them any clearer in the coming years.
I would almost forget something next to all I’ve already said. The loading times are compared to 06 hugely – and I mean HUGELY – shortened. If all games evolve in the same way, the future looks bright!
Where EA Sports failed with some of their 06 and 07 titles (I’m thinking mostly at the NBA Live series) they managed to outdo themselves with this one in the positive way. They’ve managed to make golf as interesting as a FIFA or NFL and maybe even more interesting (I’ll leave that to you). Most certainly one to get!