This year EA
Sports has really outdone themselves with a slew of fantastic sports titles from
NHL hockey to NBA basketball and thankfully they have not forgotten other sports
events such as NASCAR racing. Still it was the golf fans that were beginning to
feel left out–that is, until Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2003. So dust off that
putter, sports fan, it’s time to play with the pros.
offers a large number of game modes and challenges. There is Tiger Challenge,
Scenarios, Stroke Play, Match Play, Skins, Tournament, Online Events, Practice,
Speed Golf and SkillZone. Each mode offers both individual challenges and
multiplayer challenges (for up to four players) that are actually unique and
tremendously fun. SkillZone, for example, has five different modes such as
Target mode where you earn cash by hitting the ball into a series of bull’s eye
targets. And Scenarios puts gamers in various tight spots to see how well you
can handle challenges such as getting yourself out of a sand trap or an area
with trees blocking your line of sight.
Challenge is considered the game’s main mode of playing since this is where you
unlock new golfers and courses–there are twelve courses in total that are based
on real courses as well as fantasy courses. In this mode, you get to select one
of seven different golfers (mostly made up characters such as Pops) and accept
the challenge by real life pros such as Brad Faxon. Along the way, your golfer
earns cash and, depending on how well gamers play, win Trophy Balls, bonuses and
Tour Cards (Silver cards, for example, multiplies your earnings by two times).
the game’s controls are not at all complicated to figure out, in fact, they‘re a
dream come true. An arrow targets the location of the hole and it could be
repositioned for a more accurate shot. The controls are broken off in three
simple segments: pre-swing, pre-putt and swing. Using the left or right
thumbstick, all you really have to do is move it back and forth to swing and
connect with the ball. Push the white button repeatedly for an impressive Power
Boost and use the black button to move the ball in mid-air. Gamers might expect
to be overly cautious by things such as what type of club to use but listening
to the tips provided by your caddie makes things so much easier and less
daunting (or you can switch off the caddie‘s tips and go by instinct).
difficulty level is also quite a challenge but not so challenging that the game
is really frustrating. One of this game’s strengths is the fact that even pros
such as Charles Gordon Howell III are prone to mistakes or also have bad days
(at one point, a pro could not even get out of a sand trap). Tiger Woods can
also have his share of troubles and although his name carries the game, he can
just as easily make a mistake or make bad plays. The game’s only flaw is that
sometimes the weaker players can easily put a ball in the hole from great
distances while yours seems to be repelled by the hole when you match their
If the game’s
controls are a tasty morsel then the game’s visuals are a main course. The
highly detailed characters and the overall beauty of the courses themselves will
impress gamers. Imagine the grand lushness of the St. Andrews Golf Links or a
fantasy course set near the mist covered castles of Scotland. Gamers will be
impressed by the vastness of each environment that comes to life with wildlife
and things such as a rushing waterfall. Equally astonishing are the athletes
with realistic body movements and amazingly rich facial features.
also go to the game’s sound that does a good job of perfectly blending a
televised presentation style with a live-on-location feel. There’s a two-man
commentator team that not only explains what type of terrain you’re going to
play through but also how well you’re doing out there. To top things off,
there is just an amazing amount of sound details such as the sounds of a train
passing in the distance to the cheers of the spectators. During the main menu
or breaks in the game
there are a couple of rock tunes played by
artists such as Saliva or Silverchair.
difficult to create a realistic golf simulator and also make it extremely
entertaining but Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2003 manages to pull it off brilliantly.
Sports gamers looking for a true-to-the-sport golf title will not be
disappointed by this game that offers various modes including online play. If
that is not enough to buy this game, I don’t know what is.
Thankfully the controls are not
really complicated and even novice players can find themselves getting into the
game thanks to the great tutorial and Practice mode. You can switch clubs on
the fly and swing the club with easy thanks to the thumbstick control. Not sure
where the hole is then all you have to do is press and hold the B button and the
camera will zoom in on its exact location. You don’t have to know golf rules
and regulations to enjoy this title.
There is also
a long list of modes and challenges to keep gamers more than entertained. Speed
Golf, for example, has you racing across the golf course to earn money. While
in SkillZone challenge called TIGER, you must match your opponent’s shot. If
you fail, you earn a letter that will eventually spell the word Tiger and thus
losing the game.
The game’s visuals are truly
spectacular and it is good to see the Xbox’s full graphics capabilities put to
use. Each course is rendered beautifully with enough scrupulous details added
to make the environments appear gorgeously brimming with life. Birds take
flight overhead and if your ball happens to land in a water hazard, the water
ripples realistically. There are times, however, where the foliage takes on an
odd shape–like looking at a green splotch on the screen–but it’s nothing that
takes away from the game’s overall beauty.
attention was placed on each golfer as well, adding realistic expression to the
faces as well as small facial details. The pros actually do resemble the real
thing, especially Tiger Woods himself both in the close ups and during a play.
The golfers also move realistically, with the musculature so realistically
displayed that you’ll swear you’re watching a real game in progress.
The sound is another element in the
game that is done wonderfully and most of it centers on the environmental
effects. If you’re playing near a waterfall, you’ll hear the water rushing down
or if you’re playing in the dense jungle near the Aztec temple, you’ll hear
monkeys and exotic birds. Still, even if you’re not playing in some exotic
locale, there are still many other details such as a passing airplane overhead
or the whooping cheers of the more excited spectators.
There is also
the two-man commentator team of Jack Kulp and David Feherty that is actually
very insightful and is great at pointing out the current situation, although it
does tend to be repetitive at times. Soundtrack-wise, the game offers some rock
tunes by Saliva, Ash, Paul Oakenfold and the 12 Stones. They are the usual
collection of rock tunes heard in sports titles recently but are still quite
Going up against the pros in any
mode is not an easy task but the game is never frustratingly difficult thanks in
part to the fact that pros can also make mistakes or make bad plays. There are
times when pros can make perfect shots (eagles or a hole in one) more than once
throughout the game. Most gamers will find that it is often difficult trying to
guess a shot or to figure out what wedge to use. Luckily the caddie offers
plenty of tips and can even push you in the right direction by offering you the
exact inches between your ball and the hole.
Aside from playing as or attempting
to beat Tiger Woods himself, the game has enough pro challengers and fantasy
players to go up against. There are also fantasy courses to unlock such as the
Aztec jungles to the highlands of Scotland. The ability to post your stats
online is also a welcome addition so you can see how well your friends or
yourself stack up against other players.
The game also offers four
multiplayer options for up four players. Tournament, Stroke Play, Skins and
Match Play allow you to play the game with your friends. Stroke Play has you
and up to three other players attempting to beat each another out by completing
a round with the fewest strokes. In Match Play, the player with the most holes
wins the game. This is the perfect game to play with friends when the weather
is too bad to play the real thing.
Simply put: Tiger Woods PGA Tour
2003 is the most satisfying golf title to grace the Xbox console so far. With
gorgeous visuals, great controls and a nice assortment of game modes, the game
of golf could not be more pleasurable than this. And with so many modes, you
definitely get your money’s worth.