Once again, EA Sports and the legend that is Tiger Woods team up for another round at the links. Like the Madden Football series, Tiger Woods PGA Tour 07 will continue the long tradition of yearly iterations of EA Sports titles, but the excitement this time around will be the fact that the game will be a PlayStation 3 launch title. Hopefully, this will present those armchair putters lucky enough to snag the system on the first day a chance to play as the Michael Jordan of golf.
For any next generation game, a big question will be about the graphics. Realism, particularly for pro-sports games, is ever important (with the exception of horse racing and Texas Hold'Em). However, despite the fact that the PS3 is a dramatically more powerful system than the Xbox 360, don't expect too great a difference in the overall graphics and presentation. Most of the early games being made for both consoles will be basically developed for the 360 first and ported to the Sony system. Still, the character models should look sharp with very realistic renderings of Tiger Woods himself and the variety of PGA stars such as Annika Sorenstam and John Daly along for the ride. The details in the various settings should be slick as well, with the all-important, fully-rendered grass stalks of the rough and the huge number of spectators (about 5,000) watching a lot of walking and swinging. The interesting thing is that the crowd will react as you would expect a golf crowd to react: following shots, marching behind the golfers and ducking when an errant swing drives a tiny white missile their way.
There also will be slightly more to do in this latest Tiger Woods title as well with twice the number of courses available including the ever lovely St. Andrews in Scotland, and some RPG-like leveling that involves increasing your player's attributes over time. This mechanic works in conjunction with the True Aiming feature that will take away the simplistic point-and-click way of aiming your shot. Instead, you will now have a circular area, larger or smaller depending on your avatar's abilities and the clubs you choose, to get a general sense of where the ball should land. The better the golfer, the lesser range of unpredictability. Say, for instance, the developers had put my real world golf skills into the game. The True Aiming circle will be a massive shape (really more ovoid than circular) sitting perpendicular to where I would be aiming most likely in the trees somewhere.
Additional control is given over to the spin of the ball using the new motion-sensitive PS3 controller. While the ball is in the air, pressing down on the X button and tilting the controller one way or the other will allow for greater spin and it makes alterations to the flight path. Once on the ground, the actions of the little white sphere are automatic and rely entirely on physics and dumb luck. This should up the challenge level and make the game additionally immersive. There is little hope that this feature could be used for a golf cart driving mini-game, but the big boys (and girls) don't use vehicles in the pros anyway.
The game will feature online play that will allow up to four players to compete, and EA even promises multiplayer tournaments online going forward as well. Unfortunately, if you plan on picking up this game at launch along with your pricy new console system, be ready to be disappointed by the fact that this game really will not be all that different from the Xbox 360 version. It is a launch title after all, and the real meat and potatoes of the PlayStation 3 won't be fully digested for a little while yet. Regardless, if you are already a long time fan of the series, Tiger Woods PGA Tour 07 should be an okay addition to your library.