reviews\ Feb 13, 2005 at 7:00 pm

Tiger Woods PGA TOUR

I'm still trying to wrap my noodle around my new DS and how the touch screen has opened a whole new world of gaming. With a winner of a franchise on the console market, it only made sense for EA to put its hit Tiger Woods series on the hot new portable. But does it work? Does the game have the same great gameplay as the Xbox version? How about that touch screen, does it do the series justice? Well I'm dying to find out too, so please read on.

Let me say this, the Nintendo DS has wireless multiplayer capabilities that are really cool. And even games where only one person has to have the game and the other DS player around will download the multiplayer games, thus really exciting this reviewer. This is not one of those games. There, I said it. If you want to partake in the multiplayer golf action that this game has, everyone has to have a copy of the game. Gawshdurnit! Well, so much for that unique feature, let's see if it falls by the wayside.


Anyhoo, back to the game. Featuring six different 18-hole golf courses and a bevy of professional golfers, Tiger Woods DS borrows from some of the console version's better ideas while not being able to quite execute them all. First thing I noticed was that the game is in 3D, (whoa) and that it features a fairly clever dynamic camera. The next thing I noticed was that, wow, the golf-swing mechanic was kinda tough as it requires you to use the games touch pad. Now, let me see if I can explain it to those out there that may not be familiar with the console. When you are ready to hit the ball, you have the option of using the power meter by rubbing up and down very quickly. By rubbing the power meter you see that the power meter gets hot and then you run the touch pad's stylus down and then up a golf swing meter in an effort to really smack that ball. Here's where things get tricky. The game does not feature (and it should) a driving range-type training area or some sort of other training (involving the swing) so that the player does not get penalized for hitting the ball poorly. And trust me, you will hit the ball poorly, often.

Now, of course you cannot appreciate the complexities of a game like this until you actually hold it in your hand, and that swing thing is certainly something to get used to as I still have yet to master it and get a semi-respectable score (par or better). But the game still has a lot to offer even when you are experiencing serious frustration (hey, just like real golf). Some items worth noting are the game's ability to customize your virtual golfer and the strong use of license with top-name players whuppin your fannie all over the courses.

But, there are some things that keep this game from reaching the level that its console brothers and sisters have achieved. Most notably, the very poor putting that this title features. Sure you can spin the camera around to look at it from different angles, but the putting grid is so small and the details of the green are so minute that it is darn-near impossible to cleanly grasp. The game has a "caddy tip" function that can help you with finding the correct angle on which to putt, but even that isn't as clear and concise as it should be.

Graphically, the game does look pretty good; the designers were probably stretching their minds to the breaking point in order to come up with a visually appealing game in the short development time that they were given. Even now as I type this review, the programmers are working on the next title in the series and I have to believe that they will iron out any graphical deficiencies that the game does have. Not terrible mind you, but trust me, compare this one to the next and it will be night and day.

Review Scoring Details for Tiger Woods PGA Tour

Gameplay: 6.1
I'm not sure how the heck I am ever going to make an under-par score, I like the use of the touch pad, but man, even the slightest deviation, and my ball is rocketing out to the middle of a lake. Plus, I still have a hard time pressing the screen as hard as I'm supposed to; I know, it's designed to take some punishment, but the constant rubbing on the power meter is still hard for me to do.

Graphics: 7.5
I said some interesting things above about the graphics, but they did manage to nail down a decent-3D engine and the smooth swing on the actual golfers looks pretty decent.

Sound: 7.8
I'm still getting used to a hand-held game that comes out in stereo. The gentle little melody that plays as you go through your courses is alright and in some cases, the music tempo even falls in line with how you play. The "THWACK" of the golf ball comes out nice and clear.

Difficulty: Med/Hard
Yeah, I said it before, so it bears repeating, the swing action that is tied in with the game can be really tough. I would swear that I hit that little ball dead on, but nope, out of bounds again. Yes, you can expect some seriously high scores by the end of a round, I know cause the game has stroke limits per hole.

Concept: 7.4
A novel idea playing the game with the touch pad, and I do think they are on the right track, but the putting and spotty drives that I had made me feel like more then one thing was rushed. Golf games aren't new, but the game gets props for embracing the touch pad.

Overall: 6.8
Not really one of the stand-out titles to be launched on the DS, but an average one. Some people will absolutely love what this game has to offer, but for the most part I think gamers will be more frustrated then thrilled.

Above Average

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