• Apparently golf is a good walk spoiled but with Tiger Woods 2006 there’s no chance of that as you lard about on your sofa.

    PC gamers will long be aware of Microsoft’s ‘Links’ golf series, which enjoys a large online following and features a superb course designer for people to replicate their local courses. While Links and its meticulous control system has always been a favourite of PC golf purists, Tiger Woods has been seen as the arcade cousin ‘ a worthy yet shallow stab at a sport that needs careful treatment.

    And yet despite the gorgeous graphics and fluid animation, Links always felt detached, cold and mathematical. The player would spend as much time performing basic maths to hit the putt the right length as he would actually making the putt. With Tiger Woods and a control system that attempted to introduce the mechanics of the golf swing to the analog controller and bring the player closer to the action ‘ if you push the controller right, the ball squirts right ‘ golf had a more dynamic home.

    Tiger Woods PGA Tour 06

    With Tiger Woods 2006, the swing system is retained, with the left stick controlling the swing and the right stick allowing you to shape your shot. So, as you pull back on the left stick, you can ease the right stick to the right to perform a gentle fade around those trees. Get it wrong, and your writer appears to have a problem with pulling the ball to the left, and the results can be just as frustrating as real life.

    An interesting addition to the swing mechanism is the power boost, which you can use to try to get those extra few yards. However, the extra distance comes at a potential price, because the power boost button is trickily located on the left bumper, adding a degree of dextral complexity for those who want those few extra yards. This is a welcome change though and improves the risk v reward process of ‘going for the green’.

    However once you get to the green, the game is let down by the putting, which remains too easy. While Links gives you a grid for you to work out the line and length of your putt, TW shows you the line, so it then simply becomes a matter of judging the length. Putts under 10 feet usually take no more than a couple of seconds to work out and knock in, which is a shame, because anyone who plays the game knows this is where matches are won and lost.

    Another mechanism is the ‘gamebreaker’, which once built up to maximum through a series of good shots, allows you to pull off well, a gamebreaker ‘ that chance to sink a huge putt or go for the hole-in-one at the island green 17th at Sawgrass.

    In terms of game modes, career mode is where you will be spending your time within the six courses. And time it takes. To begin with, your player’s abilities leave plenty to be desired and it takes a long time to earn your PGA Tour card. To do that, you must complete a series of tasks, ranging from a longest drive competition to closest to the pin to a skins game with Rich Beem. It is an exhausting process but as you complete these challenges, new ones are opened up, along with new courses, and you are rewarded with improved skills through a points system.

    Your skills are divided into different catagories and you can decide which area of your game you would like to improve, whether it be raw power, your touch around the greens or that intangible luck factor that plays such a part in golf.’

    Your golfer is fully customisable and plenty of time can be spent trying to make him look like you, right down to angle of jaw-line and width of nose, if you so desire. In the end though, he’ll probably just look a bit weird because apart from the main pros in the game, the player models suffer from a slight plastic sheen.

    Graphically, especially on an HD TV, Woods is a joy. Shadows are cast across the fairway, the sea crashes against the rocks at Pebble Beach and the rough grass sways in the breeze. It’s all you would expect from EA.

    The sound is functional, the commentary OK and the ambience helps the atmosphere but unfortunately you can only give your golfer an American accent.

    However it is online that Tiger Woods comes into its own, and EA know it, with most of the game’s achievements online-based. So, once you have got your golfer’s skills up, take him online. It’s the perfect game to get to know your opponent as you chat while you play and the majority of my online ‘friends’ have been made through TW.

    Wagers for each match and you can build up an online kitty, while there are tournaments every day for you to enter and take on the rest of the world. Naturally, the only problem with that is the unrealistic scoring by those who have maxed out their golfers abilities and scores in the low 50’s are common.

    Nevertheless, Tiger Woods makes an encouraging, if tough, start on the 360. The game will no doubt look quite different in a couple of years and the hard-drive gives the option of more courses being available, but in the meantime, get online and prove your worth.

    Score: 7/10

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