Lately the man himself has been faltering on the golf course a little but EA has continued to put out quality golf games each year on a variety of platforms. The reason why Tiger Woods has been so successful is that it is so accessible, but still offers the high level of depth that many golf players want. In a surprise, the game has not yet made the GBA but for those looking for a portable version of the leading golf franchise, Nokia and EA have teamed up to bring it to the N-Gage and if you decide to pick it up, a very solid game can be found.
The big draw of EA's Tiger Woods game has always been the ability to play as numerous professional players and it is no different with the N-Gage game. Players can choose from Tiger himself and John Daley as well as a few pre built characters both male and female. In comparison to the PC and Console versions of the game, the small amount of professional players does come as a disappointment however the game makes up for this with a great deal of depth in other aspects to the title. The characters all have different statistics to determine how well they play on the course and this is divided into three categories; driving, direction and putting. Tiger as expected is the most accomplished golfer right off the bat.
The game features three main game modes; practice, career and versus mode. The practice mode allows you to select one of the pre-made golfers, professional golfers or one you have built up in the games career mode. After selecting the course the round is then played in a one off situation before moving back to the main menu. The other mode, career, is where the depth of the game shines. In this mode you build up a character from scratch and as you win tournaments, the prize money is used to build up your characters abilities to get them closer to the professional players featured in the game. The career mode very much mimics that of the console game but also contains challenges such as gaining an eagle on every par five hole in the courses featured.
The control system of the game came as a surprise as its very much like the console editions. Rather then using a three button swing system like the golf games of old, you use the dpad to swing back and push forth. This gives you a great deal of control over how hard you hit the ball but it can also be problematic mainly due to the responsiveness of the DPAD. Sometimes you will swing back and smash the ball in one quick movement and then become bemused when doing the exact same motion renders the ball a miss hit or slow hit. This inconsistency can lead you to changing the controls to a button system in the controller edit option of the game.
The game contains five courses to play on (2 fictional, 3 real life) including many famous courses such as HTPC of Scottsdale. Each of the courses are built like their real world counterpart and in something that really allows a lot of instant action, four of the five courses are unlocked initially. Some of the courses are easier than others and the game doesn't even seem to get repetitive. One irk with the game is that you can't be precise when setting where you would like the ball to land. Instead the driving lines have markings and if you want to place the ball between two predefined distances you have to modify the speed and motion of your swing. Couple that with the inconsistent swing mechanic and you can have a frustrating time on your hands.
In terms of graphics the game is quite impressive. Tiger looks exactly like he does in real life as does John Daley and the courses seem to have been replicated well. The view is divided into two sections. When you are swinging and selecting your shot, the game has a viewpoint of behind the player in a 3D style engine however once the shot is taken the view changes to an overhead, 2D style viewpoint to show where the ball lands. There is not much sound in the game other than the swinging motion and animal ambient effects with EA obviously realizing that people may be playing this game in a public place. Multiplayer is available in a situation where you pass the machine around or via the N-Gage bluetooth capability.
Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2004 N-Gage is a great portable version of one of the worlds best golf games. It's still highly accessible like the console versions and the licensed courses add a great deal of authenticity to the title. The career mode offers some great depth and may have you playing for quite some time. There are only a few problems with the game, and if you can look past these, a very solid portable golf game will be found in Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2004.