Tiger Woods PGA Tour 06 Xbox 360 Review

EA have certainly not lazed around during the launch of the first batch of next generation consoles, releasing no fewer than five titles; the one we have for you today is Tiger Woods: PGA Tour 06. Much like EA’s other titles, TW06 is basically a re-hashed version of its older gen cousin, although whereas the other titles are based on old gen versions, TW06 has been freshly built, well sort of. As has been the norm for EA’s efforts for the 360 launch, we see more gameplay modes cut from the game. Abandoning the Rivals Mode from older gen versions, EA decided to go for a more realistic approach, focusing on the real competition in golf. The basic idea is for your created golfer to compete in various tournaments across the PGA tour, in the hope of reaching the masters and wearing that famous green jacket, just like Tiger Woods himself. So, is this game worthy of your money? Frankly no, I do not mean to be harsh but it once again suffers from the lack of content available; not even good looking visuals can make up for it.

The major update to this game comes in the visual department; Tiger looks a whole lot better than he ever has. EA has spent time making sure the main man looks the part. The work done on his face is awesome, all his features are clearly defined and the muscle work in particular is quality. Comparing next gen and old gen of Tiger Woods, its not hard to see the difference. The detail on things like Tiger’s arms are phenomenal, you can see the coursing veins and the different levels of his muscles, as he does his trademark pump fist after sinking a clutch putt. Sadly, EA haven’t spent as much time on the other golfers as they have on Tiger. Although Woods looks life-like, the others have the tendency to look plastic, and with light shining on them they become very shiny indeed.

Another big upgrade in the visual department comes in the shape of a golfer’s workplace – the courses. All of them have been vastly updated, some of the texture work on the trees and the bunkers stand out, and sadly, this comes at a cost. The time taken to detail all the courses means that EA only has enough time to fit in six courses instead of the fourteen seen on Tiger Woods 06 on the Xbox. You may think this is not too bad, but after a while of playing the same six, things soon become boring and repetitive, although it does mean there are not too many courses to learn – which can be a good thing.

In keeping with the more sim feel of the game, EA have added crowds into the game, not only do they look the part – they also interact. For example, if you have let one rip off the tee and it appears to be flying into the crowd, do not think it will just bounce off them. If it hits someone, they will actually respond to it. Say, you hit a guy on the head; he will hold the particular place of pain. The crowd are also involved vocally. Much like the crowds in real-life tournaments in America – they can be quite annoying, shouting out things such as “get in the hole”. It appears good to start but can quickly become annoying. The frame-rate for the most part holds strong, during the action anyway and only dips when the camera pans out and follows the ball in mid-air.

The main mode in this game is the PGA Tour, normally just an extra in other TW’s. EA have slightly changed it however, giving you more to do than in previous versions. First off, you begin by playing little par 3 courses and various challenges, it is then your goal to go to the PGA qualifying school to try to win your card for a place on the main tour. This can be a very gruelling and repetitive experience; playing 72 hard holes over the same course is not very fun. If you manage to survive Q school and gain your PGA tour card, you then progress to the main tour where you play many tournaments spread between the courses in the game, earning a vast amount of money during it. Speaking of the courses, the six featured are Riviera Country Club, Pebble Beach, TPC at Sawgrass, Carnoustie, Pinehurst No. 2, and Turnberry. All of which have been improved, but it does not hide the fact that it still is not a lot. Another problem is that you have to unlock some of them, you unlock them by progressing through the different stages of career mode, and not doing so will see you stuck on pebble beach for a long time. The game uses the same controls as the old gen versions – the dual analogue stick approach to swinging the club.

It is a shame EA could not have developed further its more professional looking career. Perhaps they could have added more to the presentation side of the game; something that is very common in TV coverage of Golf. They could have also added more things into the mix, such as what goes on in the clubhouse, perhaps even more of a storyline into the game, because as it stands the game becomes repetitive so quickly. Luckily, EA have kept in the online version of the game; four player matches and voice chat is available. This mode does extend the playability of the game, obviously, it does depend on how quickly you become bored of it.

The Tiger Woods series has always set standard in the sound department. Although golf is not the most sound-intensive sport in the world, it still has a lot of effects that need to be replicated. Commentary is provided by the usual duo of David Feherty and Gary McCord. There has always been great chemistry between the two, some of the arguments they have about shots crack me up, and they really do work great together. Many of the lines said in the game are present in the Xbox version, but some new content has been added. The crowd interaction is new for this version and they do chip in with the odd line of encouragement now and again. As has been in previous versions of this game, all the sound effects are nailed to perfection; not many new effects have been added or needed over the series. This game is no different, you still get a great feeling after ripping one off the tee and hearing that trade mark ping sound. EA Trax is present as usual and does a good job during the menu stages. The tracks include a mix of things like Outcast and other such acts.

The lack of modes in this game does hurt its life span. Surely only the hardcore fans will actually enjoy playing all the way through the career mode, although it is useful to do so, as it unlocks the other courses featured in the game. The online portion of the game is thankfully still included, much like all EA 360 efforts, no online play has been removed, a change for us Europeans. If you have played through the career mode and are still looking for more of a challenge, you can always switch on ‘tour difficulty’ – doing so ties the game into more of a life-like experience, as there are no grids in real life putting greens.

Tiger Woods: PGA Tour 06 marks the first golf game on Microsoft’s new console and it does not do much to showcase the talents of the next generation hardware. The graphics look good, especially on High Definition but the killing of gameplay modes severally cripples what could have been something very good indeed. I do like the more sim-like approach EA have taken in this version and would like to see it worked on and improved for 07. A more realist TV presentation style is definitely needed. As it stands I would only recommend this game to hardcore Tiger fans, not that they need recommending. It is a lot of money to spend on something that just does not warrant it -stick with the Xbox version instead.

6.7 out of 10