Tiger Woods PGA Tour 06 Review

Developer: EA Sports Publisher: Electronic Arts
Release Date: November 16, 2005 Also On: None

As the only golf game on the Xbox 360, EA Sports’ Tiger Woods PGA Tour 06 has a distinct advantage. There are no other games to compare it to, and if you’re going to buy a golf game this year on your Xbox 360, there isn’t another game that is more worth your money than Tiger 06. However, if you own another console and you’re looking to hit the links, you’ll want to look elsewhere — Tiger 06 is a good game, but like most of Xbox 360’s sports games, it’s not quite worth the $60 sticker. This is even more appropriately put when one isn’t ready for an immense golf challenge.

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Of course, the gameplay itself isn’t where Tiger 06 falls short. In fact, this is the opposite; this is where the game excels beyond most titles. Tiger 06 is the first golfing game where my real-life inexperience played a part in how much I absolutely sucked in the video game. On the course it is required for gamers to know what they’re doing, whether it’s adjusting their shot placement, shaping their shot or simply knowing what club to use. The controls in Tiger Woods 06 add to this difficulty, and if you haven’t played a current-gen version, you’ll be as lost as I was when I first picked up the game. Rather than using the rythmatic button-tapping that has been used in golfing games for years, Tiger 06 forces you to hold back on the left thumbstick for a backswing and smoothly push forward for a fore swing. Any slight movement in-between the down-and-up motion will result in a shank, which is extremely irritating at first. Once the feeling is there, though, you’ll be pounding the ball down the fairway without trouble. Well, that is true only if you remember the shot shaping and adjustments.

Driving the ball 300 yards doesn’t mean a thing unless you can hit well after that, just like in real life. You drive the ball in real life far fewer times than you chip or putt it, and as a result, chipping and putting are a practice that golfers have to master in order to succeed. In Tiger 06, this is recreated perfectly. Taking in elements such as the wind, the lie of the ball, and the placement of the shot are all extremely crucial in landing on the green, let alone saving par or sinking a birdie. Similar to hitting the ball anywhere else on the course, putting can be extremely difficult and it requires a realistic touch. Reading the green is difficult because the guidelines don’t give you the best idea of the geometry of the green. The cup is sometimes impossible to see, also. Overall the putting is accurate and feels real, despite some of these gripes. In fact, I can say that about hitting the ball as a whole–Tiger Woods 06 is extremely realistic. It’s difficult at first, and there were times where I wanted to give up, but after I learned the ropes I couldn’t stop playing.

The replay value is evident in the Career mode, which is where most of your time will be spent. Career mode piles up dozens of golfing challenges in each of the six real-life courses found in the game. Long drive contests, par 5 challenges, skins matches, and chipping challenges are just a few of the many different games you’ll have to play in order to learn the game and increase your created golfer’s attributes. Each challenge can be passed for experience points or mastered for more experience points as well as bonuses like new gear. Some of the challenges had me swearing in frustration (especially the long drive ones) but they pay off and certainly made me a better player in the game. Completing these challenges eventually lets you get your PGA Card, which allows you to play in PGA tournaments and events that earn you more money, skill points, and recognition as a PGA golfer.

Visually, Tiger 06 is absolutely breathtaking. The realistic shadow effects of each course and the particle effects that come from hitting the ball out of heavy grass are just two examples that come to mind when I think about how amazing this game looks. There’s only one gripe. Every player looks like they could melt like plastic if left in the sun for too long while having a bad hair day to boot. Besides this, Tiger 06 is a visual treat. The commentary is done pretty well, and the ambience of golf is captured beautifully when the crowd isn’t roaring after a 300-yard blast.

As I said earlier, there are only six courses, and this is where I have to stop praising Tiger 06. I can understand six courses in a game like Hot Shots Golf. I can’t really accept it with Tiger 06, especially when the current-gen versions have twice as many locations. Sure, you can still hit the beautiful coast of Pebble Beach or the super-difficult TPC at Sawgrass, but after six courses, there isn’t anything else. It also doesn’t help that there’s only the Career mode to play in the Xbox 360 version. You can play online, which is nice and works out well without much holdup. But between career and online gameplay modes, there isn’t much to do here. Because of that, I don’t know how to recommend this title. I mentioned at the start of this review that Tiger 06 is a great game, and I’d like to repeat that. If you’re looking for a good golf game and you don’t have a PSP to play Hot Shots Golf: Open Tee or an Xbox to play the current-gen version of Tiger Woods 06, this is the best golfing game you could possibly buy. Like the rest of the EA Sports Xbox 360 lineup, I hope next year’s version of Tiger is fleshed out and features more while continuing to improve on the great gameplay.

Graphics: 9
Sound: 7.5
Gameplay: 8
Creativity: 5
Replay Value/Game Length: 8
Final: 7.9
Written by Cliff Review Guide

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