It’s hard to resist the urge to compare this to Tiger Woods 2004, otherwise this review would be filled with comments about how this is merely an upgrade instead of a full blown game – as most sports games so often are. Hence the title. Since Tiger Woods has a great formula, it’s not really that bad of a deal. This is still the best golf game around; sporting character creation, 14 golf courses, and Tiger Proofing.
Tiger Proofing is the single big addition to this year’s game, and the commercials for Tiger Woods are based on this new gameplay element. What Tiger Proofing does is add the ability for a person to either manually change a hole on a course, or let the computer adjust to a player’s level of play. The only other new worthwhile component in Tiger Woods 2005 is Tiger Vision, which has made an easy game completely simplistic. Other than that, 2005’s edition offers only minor perennial improvements, mostly by way of graphical facelifts.
Tiger Proofing is actually a bit of a disappointment – it’s likely to hinder serious golfers less than the gale setting for wind. What you can do in Tiger Proofing is shorten fairway length, raise or lower bunkers, the rough or fairway grass, and so forth. What you cannot do is extend the fairway. This is important because most of the holes are 550 yards or less, and easily reached with two strokes, fairway or not.
Tiger Woods 2005 still involves the analog swing, which is one of the best gameplay elements to ever appear in video game golf. Pulling back on the analog stick initiates your player’s back swing; the further you pull back, the more power is integrated into the swing. Get it right, and you see various animations on the down swing, some are neat, some are not, but all become tedious after a few rounds of golf.
Another part of the shot dynamic is building a power shot, or as my friends call it, the red ball. The more complete the red ball, the further a shot will travel. Taking full advantage of this, along with good wind and a maximum power attribute, and it’s possible to hit the ball over 400 yards. Heck, my longest is 418 – and without the benefit of a tailwind.
Once you get onto the green, Caddy Tips will help you read putt distance, as well as geographic curvature, and the height or depth of the hole, which makes the sick 50 feet putts somewhat of a joke. But you might be asking, “Wait a minute, I suck at reading the Caddy Tips, which have already made the putting easy?what can I do for those long shots that read ?15 feet right’ and ?26 feet long’?” The answer lies in Tiger Vision, basically an automatic putt.
Is Tiger Vision a good idea? Veteran players will probably complain that it makes the game way too easy, while others will see it as something to be used strategically in order to win a close game. The latter tends to be my personal choice, because I always question whether or not to burn one on, say, the third hole when there is still a lot of golf left to play.
While Tiger Woods 2005 is certainly fun, and can involve lots of single-player time to fully unlock all the courses, attributes, equipment, players, and so on, the game is pretty easy. This is probably my single biggest gripe, and it’s a doozy for veterans. Even on the hardest difficulty setting, anyone with more than a week’s experience using the analog stick will crush the tournament competition by dozens of strokes. This results in long, boring gameplay hours for people who’ve played previous editions of Tiger Woods PGA, and for little other reason than to unlock attributes and equipment.
You see, Tiger Woods 2005’s idea of longevity is to make people play tournaments and other golfers, both professional and created. The mistake lies in the fact that the golf courses are unlockable about one fifth of the way in. You don’t pay for the golf courses; they unlock themselves once you earn a certain amount of prize money. You don’t even have to work the tournaments to earn this money; all you need do is play against the game’s other characters.
With characters being mentioned, there are a substantial amount of golfing legends from both past and present included here, along with a sizeable amount of unique ones. These characters all fall under the elementary school of difficulty; even Jack Nicholas and Sunday Tiger will fall to you through a steady swing and good putting, no need for maximum attributes.
There is also that ?special celebrity’ that has no real reason to be in the game – much like Cedric the Entertainer. I don’t think he’s part of this game’s demographic, but who knows, maybe golfers enjoy Justin Timberlake’s music. No, this is not a spoiler; ?The Hustler’ can be unlocked in four rounds of golf. (You don’t think ?The Hustler’ is a spoiler? ED)
The cash flows through sponsorship when you play any kind of golf in Tiger Woods 2005. These are real-life golf sponsors, which are always a plus, and they subsequently reward you for loyally using their equipment during a golf match.
Once you do start unlocking items, it’s fun to create a character that fits your personality. You can even pick positive player animations (for birdie and eagle putts, etc), and negative animations (bogey, double bogey, etc). Some are extremely cool (Extended Robot anyone?) and some are lame (anything with the words ?fist’ and ?pump’ should be avoided), but all are used to round out your character. Again, just aesthetic icing on the cake, but can you complain while dipping your finger?
The landscape graphics haven’t changed much, but they are still sharp, and there is not much you can do to change it. What truly sells the graphics is the character models and the individual detail on each of them. The Gameface II option has evolved considerably since last year’s installment, and it’s mind-blowing to see how close you can get to creating a realistic facsimile of your own face with this tool. Clothing your character is not only stylish, but also adds to his modifiers, which is a nifty addition.
The sound in Tiger Woods 2005 is just for environmental ambience, but the commentary is good. The EA commentators have so many different lines that it’s likely you’ll still be hearing new ones after a month of gameplay. The most annoying thing about the sound is the Outkast song being played constantly whenever you access the Gameface II menus. It would not be so bad if there were rotated songs, but this just plays over and over and over again.
Tiger Woods 2005 wants to have long single-player value, but amassing maximum cash for the game is done within a week, and the rest of the time is spent finishing up PGA tournaments and Real-Time Events. This harkens back to fighting games, where the single-player mode acted as a warm-up to playing against other (real) people. You spend your time honing your skills and learning the nuances of every course before playing against other people, whether in person or online. How much of a competitor you are will denote how long you’ve played the game.
The replay value can be summed up in one word: Multiplayer. This is where Tiger Woods 2005 truly shines. Two great golfing players will have matches go down to one mistake, or one lucky shot, which will add to the tension and the desire to do better. This has the replay value to go the distance if you’re even a slight fan of golf. There are so many different ways to play multiplayer that it almost never gets boring.
Don’t like to play against each other? Well, Tiger Woods 2005 has you covered in Bestball and Fourball, which pit you and a friend against two other opponents, be they human or computer. Have no friends? Never fear, for there is the magical online play, where you can even play tournaments.
Is Tiger Woods worth $50?
This is the question foremost on everyone’s mind, and the answer is yes?and no. It’s not worth the asking price if you’re a mere casual gamer and/or already have Tiger Woods PGA 2004. There’s simply not enough new content to warrant buying this year’s installment. These games perhaps deserve an ?every other year’ purchase, when the new content outweighs the price; or maybe buying it used after the price sinks a little. However, if you’re a serious fan (and there are many), or one of the unconverted, go ahead and pick up the best golf game on any console.
Tiger Woods PGA 2005 is fun to play, has good visuals, and most importantly, has considerable replay value that will see you through to 2006 – and that, my friends, is the name of the golf-game.