Tiger Woods PGA Tour 08 PS2 Review

For years EA has been pumping out the sports games, and for years the gaming public at large has been buying them. More recently however we have been getting a little cannier with our purchases, having realised that EA run a cyclical approach to their well worn franchises. Because of this you really need to look before you jump in and get the new version just because they have the new players and courses.

This process works on a three year cycle; innovation followed by consolidation followed by stagnation. Now, although this is pure conjecture on our part, it seems to be a pattern that holds true for a lot of their sports games, and accounts for particular releases being better than others. Many people have a favourite Tiger Woods game that for them hit the sweet spot between innovation and stagnation. The question for us today is where Tiger Woods 08 on the PS2 falls in the cycle.

From the off, there seems to have been a degree of innovation. Many of the made up courses from last year have been replaced by real world locations. This not only adds value for the returning player, but adds to the game’s authenticity as a real golfing simulation rather than a pitch and putt video game. You can play round many of the courses you will have seen on TV; Cog Hill, Westchester, TPC Boston, Firestone, Doral, East Lake and TPC Scottsdale are all included.

Once you get into the game proper, things are a little more familiar. We again find the same familiar gameplay modes. When we say familiar, you should probably read: pixel-for-pixel identical gameplay. Nothing seems to have been touched in this department. The player career mode too, seems to have received little attention. Again there are the usual tour events such as the FedEx Cup, and Tiger challenges. If you have played these previously you will find they become tired pretty quickly. In fact even if you are new to the game the Tiger challenge mode lacks the variety necessary to keep you coming back for more.

This repeat play value is improved by the ability to improve your golfer through the EA attribute system and buying new equipment. On top of this you can, again, use the create-a-face engine to poke and tweak your player to your hearts content. The variety on offer here is a little bewildering, but a little perseverance and you can produce a pretty good likeness. It’s a shame that the import a photo feature is not supported as our Eye-Toy sat above our TV crying out to be used. But no, this feature is reserved for the likes of the 360 and PS3. Although this is a minor point, this theme of innovation being saved for the next generation consoles, seems to persist in most areas of the game.

Control wise, the set-up is the same. Again some of the innovations that we have seen on the 360, PS3 and even the Wii are nowhere to be seen. The PS2 version seems to have been at the back of the queue when the innovative features were being handed out. The one change control wise is the put preview, which gives you a limited amount of time to try out your put. It’s a nice touch but doesn’t really add anything substantial to the game as a whole.

Graphically, there really isn’t a lot more that EA can do with the available horsepower of the PS2. To that end Tiger 08 looks the same as Tiger 07 although they seem to have been able to break the frame what, just a little bit, which often has a slight judder in the middle of you’re putting. Whilst the visuals aren’t anything to write home about, they don’t affect the feel of the game overall. It just goes to show how gameplay is king in these sports titles. Whilst we can live with the odd drop in graphical performance, the sport-engine must be rock solid, and as we know EA have long established this with the Tiger franchise.

Overall, this is not a game for those who have brought last years game. As we said at the start of the review, this version really falls into the stagnation end of the cycle. The Wii got the control innovations, while the 360 and PS3 had the graphical enhancements, leaving the poor old PS2 with not much left to choose from. There are still the new real-world courses, but unless you are a hard-core player and real-life golfer, these are not that much of an addition. If you do already own Tiger 07 we’d suggest you go for the Wii version with its great swing mechanic. If by some chance you haven’t played Tiger Woods before then you may still want to check the price on last year’s game before making a purchase on the new one. All-in-all let’s hope the cycle restarts next year with some real innovation.

Another tale of a little bit too much recycling of last years game for EA. Next year we expect they will kick back into innovation mode.

8 out of 10
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