Tiger Woods 2006 Xbox Review

The greatest golfing series in the world ever returns for its annual update, boasting an all new gameplay mechanic and various other little changes. It’s that time again, the time when EA bring out their updates for their multi million selling sport series. In this review we will look at the video game of arguably the greatest player to hit the little white ball.

Gameplay
As is par for the course in every Tiger Woods game, this one contains multiple modes of play and even, for the first time over here, online play courtesy of Xbox Live. The main mode being talked up this year is “Rivals Mode”. Rivals mode is basically a dressed up version of last year’s legends mode in which you create your own character using the very impressive gameface tool. After creating your character you come across a little cut scene in which the man himself, Mr Woods, challenges you to come back in time and challenge the best. Rivals mode sees you travelling through time between two different time periods “modern” and “olden” day. You have the option to take up various challenges from curiously named individuals such as Nathaniel Hopkins III and Richard Irons. These challenges consist of contests such as bunker shots and long drive contests.

It’s a shame that EA couldn’t have thought of more for their premier mode in this year’s version, it is far too similar too last years version and does not contain enough fresh ideas. All the usual modes are also in this version such as the RTE Calendar, the PGA tour and the usual assortments of golfers are there with the new recruits players such as Mike Weir and Chris Di Marco. The main overhaul in this version has happened to the play mechanics. Whereas last year you used the left analogue stick to control the swing of the club, you now use two. The left analogue stick remains the same as before but this time the right analogue stick is used to control the spin on the ball, allowing you to pull of fades, draws and even hooks. The other addition is in the putting area where perhaps the game needed the most addressing. we now have what EA refer to as “Dual Stick” putting. Basically this allows you use the right analogue stick in gauging the pace of the putt and the left analogue stick to hit the putt, again another ok if a bit unnecessary addition. One good addition to the putting game is the use of a grid with its own contours that give you a guide of the way the green is sloping, a very valuable tool that is quite effective. The last mechanic update in this years version is the arrival of the “gamebreaker”. Used in a few other EA titles the gamebreaker is a one off shot that can dig you out of any whole you are in. It is charged up by good play and when available is achieved by repeatedly tapping the A button during the back swing, It can normally only be achieved once during a normal round of 18 holes. Also new for this years game over in Europe anyway is the addition of online play. Between 1-4 players can battle it out over Xbox live, voice chat is supported and there is very small if any lag, the lobby system can be confusing but after a few attempts will become second nature.

Graphics

Perhaps the one aspect of this game that hasn’t improved are the graphics. Although not bad by any stretch of the imagination, it’s a shame EA didn’t put the same effort into it as they did the gameplay. Still, the players are well detailed and all the clothes and club designs can be easily seen. There are the odd bits of chopping but nothing that will spoil the enjoyment. My biggest concern is that sometimes the frame rate can drop quite prodigiously when the camera is sweeping round to catch the ball, it is not a major problem but it’s something EA could have improved on. Perhaps the most important part of the graphics in any golf games is how well the actual course looks. Well this is one part that Tiger Woods excels in. The textures on the trees, bushes, rough and the bunkers are all excellently detailed with some of the water effects standing out especially. Lastly with the graphics the nice visual touches that EA have put into the rivals mode. With all the features of the olden times standing out like the coal fires and ye olde music, even the clothing that old Tiger wears is right on the money.

Sound

Perhaps not the most exciting part of a golf game, but a part that does its job nonetheless. All the sound effects are top notch, which the sound of the club hitting the ball particularly striking. Apart from some dodgy crowd celebrations, you cant fault EA for their in game sounds. You can Fault EA however on the dreaded voice acting done by Tiger Woods. Devoid of any emotion what so ever in his voice it really does sound likes he has been tied to a chair and whipped until he speaks. The final part in the sound is the much heralded “EA Trax”, very much a personal preference of course, for what sort of sounds float your boat, the tunes included here are quite upbeat and do a good job of keeping happy.

Lifespan

Perhaps the best part of the Tiger Woods games are the fact that they can last for a very long time. With all the modes included in this year’s version, it might take to the next instalment to complete them all. The Rivals mode will keep you going for a little while at least and the RTE Calendar and PGA Tour will keep you interested for months after. With the addition of Xbox live this game has the opportunity to never lose your attention with phenomenal replay value, it’s the one part of the game that is great value for money.

Overall

As this review comes to an end, I must say that EA’s report card reads “good, but needs to try harder”. If you’ve never owned a Tiger Woods game, I demand you go out and give this a try. But if you already have 05 I suggest you keep plugging away with that just now. EA really haven’t done enough to warrant you spending another 40 notes on a game. The die hard fans will obviously buy this whatever is written about it, but the average game should really think twice about this update. It doesn’t really have many bad points the Tiger Woods series, but EA need to go back to the drawing table for next years version and bring us something a little different.

7.5 out of 10

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