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Thread: Tiger Woods PGA Tour Review

                  
   
  1. #1
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    Default Tiger Woods PGA Tour Review

    I've not had my DS for too long and currently own 2 games, the other being the rather addictive Zoo Keeper. Having had Tiger Woods for a about 3 weeks now I thought I'd post my opinions.

    My first impression was that it's a little stripped down, which is to be expected since the DS is not an Xbox. It starts fine but the first splash screen is rather plain and static. So no flashy intros here. You can still customise your character as in the console versions but again the number of options are more limited with very little clothing to choose from, just a few shirts etc. and a more limited selection of face/body options.

    There's 3 modes of play: Quick Play, Legend Tour and Multi Player.

    Quick play is the quickest way to start playing and allows you to play a variety of game modes (stroke play, match play and skins) on any of the courses that are available. 2 are available initially and the other have to be unlocked from the Legend Tours mode. A total of 6 courses are included in the game. You can also specify here how many CPU players there are (up to 3) and choose if you want to play a full course or just the first 9 or latter 9 holes. A sub menu allows alterations of tee selections, pin selections, green speed, fairway speed and the length of the rough. The quick play mode is a great way to just pass some time (although the meat of the game is in the Legend Tour mode) and a good way to pick up the game mechanics.

    The game is pretty intuitive to play and understand with the top DS screen displaying the behind view of your character along with the usual sort of info: your name, score, earnings, shot number and a percentage indicating how good a lie your ball is in.

    The touch screen contains an overhead view of the course area you're aiming at along with details of the hole number, distance to hole, wind direction/speed, ground height and 3 buttons. One of these (called Pocket Caddy) brings up the surprise, surprise...pocket caddy (x button also does this) which gives you an overview of the hole, caddy tips and provides you with sub menus to alter the club and shot types. These can be altered in game anyway so you don't have to keep on going to this menu at all really unless you want the caddy tips. Another touch button (reset shot) does exactly what you think it does and sets up your shot to the default set up should you accidently aim wayward or forget what club you were naturally given. The third shows a club head which takes to the good part - hitting the ball (a button also does this).

    Aiming your shot is really easy. You can move a target around by either using the d-pad or by touching the screen where you want the shot to go. A secondary circular ring shows where the should end up if hit at 100% whilst the details around the target alter to show the elevation of the land and power needed to get to that point. Keeping the stylus or your finger on the desired aim point allows the top screen to zoom in to that location so you can see the spot in more detail. Tweaking the shot can be done by moving the stylus whilst touching the screen or by using the d-pad. The L and R shoulder buttons are used to move up or down clubs and the Y button cycles between shot types: full, punch, pitch, flop and chip.

    Once you're satisfied with your set up you can hit the ball. I think this is implemented pretty well and makes good use of the touch screen. You can rub up and down a boost bar to give your shot that extra power then swing the club by moving the stylus/finger in a j-shaped motion down the backswing then up and forward through the ball. Your starting position of the swing will determine the power of the shot - start at the top for a full 100% or lower down for less. Deviating to various degrees left or right after going the ball will result a fading/drawing or hooking/slicing of the shot. Once the ball is in flight, both screens move to show the location of the ball - the upper in 3D the lower in the overhead view. Whilst this is happening you can apply spin to the ball by rubbing the screen in the desired direction.

    And that is really the mechanics of it. From herein it's up to you to master the play. As I mentioned, the swing is good and it all feels really intuitive in no time at all. I don't like the backswing bar divisions though. EA have divided it up into 12. So guys, why 12? Is each bar meant to be 8.333333%? It would have made far more sense to do it in tens and would have made it more understandable from the off. That aside it's rather cool.

    There really not much to be said about the gameplay though - once you've got the hang of hitting the ball it's just a case of honing you're skills and judements to take each hole as well as possible. And that's fine with me, it's a golf game and it's what I'd expect. And once you get stuck into the legend tour mode, playing competions etc it can get pretty hard at times as you decide whether to take risky shots or play safe.

    Graphics wise, the game is OK looking, quite like a PS1 title. It's certainly not as nice looking as the PSP game and it lacks nice touches like water reflections and movement. There no background animation at all as far as I can tell. The character animation is pretty good and camera movement is smooth but the textures are a little lo-res and pixellated for my liking, especially when you get close to some of the elements. The sky graphic is also slightly pixelated at all times and you can see that it's mirrored by one particular cloud that's flipped over right next to itself. Although tiny flaws, they hint that the game was perhaps rushed for the DS launch (or that the programmers were a tad lazy). There are also some dodgy seams every now and again and some background elements such as a rows trees get cut off abruptly, showing half a tree rather than ending on a full one. It's these little things that let down what is actually a very good game.

    There's even some slow down but this only occurs whilst your caddy is sometimes reading the green, and usually signals that a caddy putting tip will be unavailable. This brings me nicely onto the putting aspect of the game which I consider to be the worst part of the game. To putt you just aim with the touch screen or d-pad (which I favour for this) then putt with the 'a' button. There's no power here, you just aim left or right, long or short to compensate for the contour of the green then hit it. My problem with the putting is that once on the green you can't read it properly. The grid guide that's present in most games like this to help you read the green is absolutley useless, only vaguely giving you and idea of the slope of the green. And that's only from left/right. It's virtually impossible to tell if the putt is uphill or downhill. This basically leaves you with a putting game that's totally relying on the caddy tips. In my opinion this is rubbish, leaving you to just do what the caddy tells you and that is not what putting is about. I do hope EA come up with a better system next time round. It's possibly the worst implementation of putting in a golf game that I've ever played and has been better used in much older games such as Links LS, Jack Niclaus Golf and even the old PGA tour game on the Amiga.

    My only other criticism would be the audio. Canned applause, limited and repetitive noises etc all lower the quality of the game.

    These annoyances aside the game is still really good fun and I've had a good time so far. I'm only half way through the Legend Tour at the moment an it's offering a suitable challenge. This mode involves working your way through various competitions, earning money as you go which can be put to use by upping your player stats and abilities. Working through this mode also unlocks the other courses. This is where the main challenge of the game lies.

    Overall I find this game to be pretty good and I'm still having a good time with it. I've not played the multiplayer version but you'll need a friend with a copy of the game too if you wish to go head to head. It's a good representaion of golfing but lacks the necessary rifinements to really make it stand out. It also lacks the humour of it's bigger console brothers and would have been nice if it had some training modes or fun mini games like a crazy golf course, or a skittles/target games similar to that in Virtua Tennis or it's console equivalents. Whether this is due to the capacity of the game card or limitations of the DS, I don't know, but a little bit of polish would have gone a long way.

    I'd give it 6.5 out of 10. A good game let down by poorly implemented putting and a rather stripped down approach.

    I'd be interested to see if anyone agrees or disagrees. Anyone else had a blast at this?

  2. #2
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    thanks for the review

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