Version Reviewed: 1.0.0
Graphics / Sound [rating:3/5]
Game Controls [rating:4/5]
iPhone Integration [rating:4/5
Re-use / Replay Value [rating:3.5/5]
I have been patiently awaiting the day that the EA Sports titles would finally break out onto the iPhone scene. i'd heard rumors long before I became an app reviewer... in fact, one of the reasons I became an app reviewer was so that I would get some help buying all of these huge titles. The first one that came out, and not surprisingly right after the amazing Master's tournament a few weeks back, was Tiger Woods PGA TOUR. I have put in countless hours playing Tiger Woods on consoles against my friends, shamelessly hitting green after green on my way to victory, so I felt that I would be ready for any challenge.
Where's the WiFi?
Sitting down with the game for the first time, I figured that I would convince one of my friends to buy the game and play with me over Wi-Fi. There's just something about hitting an eagle against a good friend... nothing beats the feeling. So I turn the game on and... umm... where is the WiFi multiplayer? EA, please don't tell me that you just put out a sports game without WiFi multiplayer. Even Let's Golf!, a cartoony (but really fun) golf game, has WiFi multiplayer (it may crash by hole 9, but until then it's great). I know golf is supposed to be ultimately relaxing, a more mature sport where your greatest opponent is yourself, but that philosophy is utter crap. I want to go to the course, drink some beers with my friends, and have a good time. Alas, my dream of golf supremacy boiled down to me vs. the computer. I found out soon after that I could play hot-seat multiplayer, but it's just not the same. I want to be watching the other players shot on my screen after my shot, not staring over his shoulder to see what's happening.
Saddened by the lack of a WiFi multiplayer option, I decided to start the PGA tour. I had an option to just start a quick game, but I ultimately decided that a golf career would be rather rewarding. The golf career works to where you start with some money, and this money can be used to either upgrade your equipment or to pay for entry fees to tournaments... or both. Much like the real version, there are real life courses to play and there are real life golfers to beat. I've discovered that beating Tiger Woods in his own game is just about as good as fun as beating my friend over WiFi, so life would be ok in video game golf land. I would like to see more of an RPG element in the PGA Tour mode though. It's great just to play through the golf game, but working hard to get things like sponsorships and media appearances really adds to the gaming experience.
Getting the "Eye of the Tiger"
The actual gameplay in Tiger Woods, the real meat of the game, works pretty well. To hit the ball, there is a huge slider that you move your finger down, as straight as possible, and then explode upwards to simulate the swing. The more you draw to the right and left, the more the character will draw the ball in the game. After the ball is hit, you get to put any kind of spin you want on the ball, just like in the video game, to effect what the ball will do after it lands. Once you hit the green, the putting works very similarly to driving, but there are a few more things to account for. While putting, you must account for terrain movement, indicated by a grid overlay with moving arrows that signify how hard the break is on the course. After you have aimed, you can use Tiger eye, which shows the path of the ball with your current aiming... but you can only use Tiger eye once, so use it well.
The Rough is Evil
The game plays pretty smoothly throughout unless you miss a shot into the rough. The rough is so unforgiving in this game that it hurts. The rough hates you. Just beat it into your head, avoid it at all costs. Hitting a ball out of the rough in this game takes at least half of the velocity off of the ball right away, causing you to undoubtedly hit a bogey almost every time. The rough in the game is even worse than the sand, just for the fact that the sand leads to bad expectations. I know the ball wont go 100 yards out of the sand, but it should out of the evil, evil rough.
Virtua Fighter Golf?
The graphics are one thing that Tiger Woods doesn't do very well. The player models just don't look realistic at all. I was half expecting some kind of cartoony version of the Tiger Woods characters, but I instead got a hybrid human/Virtua Fighter. I always liked Virtua Fighter, but I never considered Tiger Woods to be one. The textures and scenery in the game are equally as weird. Sometimes when I am spacing out I can imagine them to be real houses and trees, but when I'm paying attention, the game just looks odd. Everything seems like a cardboard, Virtua Fighter version of itself. I think that I would, if I were EA, turn the graphics slightly cartoony to overcome the systems lack of overall gaming power.
Sound of Silence
The sound on the other hand is quite good for an iPhone game. There is limited, but very good, announcing from (golf legends?) Sam Torrance and "the golf channel's own" Kelly Tilghman. The names were shamelessly pulled off of the iTunes store description... the only golf announcers I know are the ones on NBC. The background sounds, although still parse, are very well crafted. Peaceful weather sounds like peaceful weather sounds, and a raucous crowd sounds like they are genuinely excited.
Overall, I would say that Tiger Woods is an enjoyable gaming experience, but at version 1.0.0, it's just not worth $10. On any other system, this price would be fantastic, but on the iPhone, with its unrealistically low price points, the price should be around $7, not $10. Add WiFi multiplayer and some kind of online leader-board and we will talk, but there are some missing mission critical features that make this game not worthy of its price tag. For a golf nut that doesn't need perfect graphics or the chance to dominate over WiFi, Tiger Woods is fantastic, but for the rest of us that want a bit more, it's tough to cough up that much money.
There are a few things that I would tweak a bit for the next version of the game.
1. WiFi Multiplayer. Not an option, this needs to be on the game.
2. Smoothed out graphics, if possible.
3. Slightly easier rough's, because the ones in the game are brutal.
4. More of an RPG element. If I am not going to be wowed by the graphics, I want to wowed by the extremely amazing PGA tour mode.