The start of fall often signals three things to sports fans: Major League Baseball playoffs, the debut of the NFL season and the opening of NBA training camps. This year, though, fall started off with a different sport in the limelight, as Tiger Woods went on a tear with six straight golfing victories. It’s only appropriate, then, that Tiger Woods PGA Tour 07 ships tomorrow, because golf (and Tiger) are still tops on many fans’ minds.
Current-gen console owners get the first crack at Tiger 07, as the Xbox 360 version is still several weeks away. However, Tiger 07 wasn’t just hastily thrown together for the Xbox or PlayStation 2, as EA spent some time implementing a few new features.
The most notable new feature is a new focus on team play. Much like EA’s NASCAR game and the upcoming Need for Speed Carbon, assembling and playing with a team are every bit as important as dominating the competition individually. In Tiger 07, the new Team Tour Mode compels players to compete in 19 different matches around the world. In the early going these matches involve one golfer, but as you progress they involve teams of two or more. As each golfer or team is defeated, he or she (or they) can be added to your own team.
As the worldwide tour progresses, you’ll gradually swap players in and out of your four-player rotation depending upon the courses and competition at hand. The goal, not surprisingly, is to birdie and eagle your way to a match against Tiger Woods’ team. This team concept naturally adds a new layer of strategy, because even as proud as you might be of a custom-created character, there are times when four other players are simply more qualified or provide a more-balanced team. In addition, you can upgrade your teammates’ attributes much as you update your own character’s as you win tournaments, which means selecting a team of four non-created characters is something you’ll seriously consider. Sure, it’s nice to see your own creation level up, but since your teammates almost always start out with higher attributes, playing with and upgrading them gives you a leg up on your journey to a match against Tiger’s team.
When you consider the One Ball mode, PGA Tour mode, Elimination mode and Online play, Tiger 07 packs some serious gameplay punch. But the graphics and audio are hardly up to par. The faces on each golfer look great, and the swing animations are surprisingly fluid, but the bland textures and lack of course vitality just can’t be ignored. For all the hubbub gamers made about the lack of life in Tiger’s Xbox 360 debut last year, not to mention EA’s commitment to boost the immersion in this year’s versions, it’s surprising to see so little changed graphically in the current-gen versions. And the audio, while well-recorded, is so repetitive and understated that you’ll wonder why it’s even there.
It’s also puzzling to see EA include the ability to adjust the gameplay and environmental (course) difficulty, which makes the game more approachable to franchise virgins, while at the same time adding finesse moves to the right thumbstick. In the former instance, EA is making the game more approachable, but in the latter it’s making it far more complex to control. In fact, when you consider these additions along with the new Team Tour mode, it feels like EA is adding features just for the sake of adding them.
The team play is a great concept and well implemented, and it definitely adds an intriguing layer of strategy, but what more can possibly be added before the Tiger series stops feeling like golf? How much can the developers really add to justify gamers forking over another $50? Tiger Woods PGA Tour 07 is a solid game, but has the series reached its limits? Maybe it’s time, as gamers have suggested for years, that EA charge less for a marginally improved sequel. That, perhaps more than any new gameplay mode or feature, could be just the change gamers are looking for.
- Overall: 7.7
- The Team Tour mode is fun, but everything else about the game has been seen/done before. Maybe a $25 price should be next year’s “added feature.”
— Jonas Allen