Tiger Woods has always been able to stand out as one of EA's greatest gaming creations. The oft-criticised developer/publish have got this game down to a tee. The 2006 version represents further developments and improvements on the excellent existing formula. So it is with quite some pleasure that we don our golfing knitwear and hop in our little golf kart to review this fore you.
Hilarious golf jokes aside, Tiger Woods 2006 is a fine golfing simulator. Admittedly, not much has changed since the 2005 version, but EA have done some tinkering with the swing. As before, you still swing at the ball by pulling backwards and forwards, but now you can add fade and draw by using the C-Stick. This means trying to coordinate two analogue sticks, which for any man, is vastly confusing. The fact is you can do perfectly well in the game and play brilliant golf without ever touching the C-Stick, so its use in the game feels like something of an afterthought.
The game looks gorgeous; all the courses are full of detail and look nigh on identical to their real life counterparts. The animation on the golfers is first class too, even the 'Game Face' models. Yes, once again you can make an effigy of yourself in golfing form to ridiculous detail. We managed to make a character that looked spookily realistic, it may take over an hour, but it is great fun and well worth it for all the in-game entertainment is opens up.
The game is split up into the standard game modes. Play Now for instant access gameplay, Rivals Mode where you get to beat Tiger Woods to the title of the greatest golfer of all time. It's a bit like an adventure with a nice little cosy log cabin-cum-menu and lots of cheesy scripted dialogue. You can do all the PGA events, there are all the traditional game modes to enjoy and even the chance to play golf through magical coloured hoops. You can even play in Real Time Events (this we really like), there are loads of special events that relate to the specific day your GameCube clock is set to. If being evil floats your boat than you can play Rival Golf, whereby the winner of each hole gets to steal their opponents club (two players only), annoying, pointless, but somebody might enjoy it. There is quite simply a stupid amount of content to keep you entertained here and when that's all done you can invite over some mates for some hardcore golfing action (if that's your thing)...
The fact that Tiger Woods has been a bit crap at golf for quite a few years now certainly hasn't stopped his presence in the game. The grinning face of the world's most famous golfer jumps out of you from every angle, but you can also select to play as a number of other pro players and some 'novelty' characters.
The game itself players wonderfully well. The control system is something of a finely tuned engine. The balance between simplistic arcade play and simulation golf has been struck perfectly here. A complete novice can play good golf, but only after quite a bit of work and some intelligent thinking and game knowledge can you really start to unlock the best this game has to offer. The feeling of sinking your first hole in one is simply superb, and there are some lovely touches to make golf that bit more exciting. For example, you can hit power shots by rapidly tapping Z during your backswing, get it just right and you get a funky 'special' view of your player taking the shot that displays the awesome power of it. When you are hitting important shots, the controller vibrates to represent a pulsing heartbeat and God help you when you are hitting a shot for a match, the entire game vibrates and shakes to try and make you nervous. An entertaining little touch that will no doubt cause you to swear quite a bit when you miss that all important long range put.
EA have put a lot of work into making this the 'ultimate golfing experience' and what is even more amazing is that that isn't an oxymoron. The commentary is more solid than ever and the game is wonderfully enjoyable to play. It isn't aggressive, fast paced, confusing or obnoxious, it is just golf. Apart from the fashion, perhaps the most inoffensive thing in the world behind the nation of Belgium.
Why EA chose to play about with things we will never know. They had the swing down to perfection and then they had to go and use the C-Stick. It is just about impossible to use both sticks in conjunction with each other effectively, and the improvements in general feel painfully tagged on. Still, a perfect balance between easy play and acute gameplay detail cannot be scoffed at.
They look just about the same as last time out. We could criticise EA for not improving them, but in all honesty they are pretty damn perfect. Lovely character animation, gorgeous courses and slick presentation.
Again, worryingly similar to last year. The commentary is the same bar one or two changes but it is still some of the best sound you'll find in a sports game. The music chosen to accompany your play and time spent navigating the menus is excellent too.
A huge game. Tournaments, quick games, real life events, create-a-golfer, create-a-course, multiplayer, challenge modes and more ensure that this game will keep you going for months. It really is the game that just keeps giving. And it gives the greatest gift of all; golf!
We don't like being ripped off, and this version of Tiger Woods feels painfully similar to the version we scored at 9.2/10 last year. Hence, we are marking it down for cheating and for mucking about with the swing system. It is still the best golf game around, and if you don't own last year's effort, we strongly recommend you invest in this superb title. Top hole!