Before EA created the Tiger Woods franchise, golf was never really seen as a game for consoles. Nor was it seen as a fun game that people who aren't necessarily into the sport can enjoy. Tiger changed all that and it has now become the premiere golfing simulation, but there is only so much that a golf game can have. This year EA have added a few of new things but they are more aesthetic and new game modes rather then changing the game itself. For the purists the golf is there but for those wanting a fun, quick nine holes then Tiger Woods has always been the game to get and as 2005 proves, still is.
Tiger Woods PGA Tour has never taken itself overly seriously for the most part except for the licenses. The game modes in 2005 reflect this. Each mode is divided into a number of sub-categories. Traditional games (stroke play, skins etc), My Legend Pursuit, Skillzone, battle golf and the RTE calendar form the basis of the modes on offer in this years game. The traditional modes are fairly self explanatory but the others are more unique to Tiger Woods.
My Legend Pursuit is somewhat the storyline mode of the game. You create a character with the new GameFace II option in the game and then take on various legends of the game in match play. Before you are allowed to take on the players such as Gary Player and Jack Nicklaus, you have to defeat about five other characters so to fully complete this mode will take quite some time and a great deal of skill. Throughout these matches you play nine holes. The player who wins (with the lowest stroke number per hole) the most number of holes, wins the match and progresses on. The five characters you play before the legend are made up, non-serious characters which can seem a little out of place given that it is a Legend pursuit.
Skillzone is very much a homage to the skill activities in some basketball games. Target gives you twenty balls to hit targets on a course for cash, Timed tasks you with hitting as many targets in ninety seconds, Capture makes you fight it out for areas of the course and T-I-G-E-R which works very much like horse in basketball. For two player fun the game offers battle golf where you and a friend can play for clubs. These modes really make up the fun, party style aspect of the game and are a nice change away from the traditional modes the game offers.
Two of the most interesting aspects of the game is the Gameface II software and the Real Time Event calendar. In most modes the game will force you to use a character you build yourself rather than one of the professionals featured in the game. This software is extremely powerful and lets you alter things such as the characters face and gender, as well as allowing you to buy new clothes for your character, new clubs and even change the animation which they use when celebrating a birdie or eagle. The other great aspect is the Real Time Event calendar. Via your PS2 clock, the game calculates the date and pre-set into the game is a number of events you can take part in if your handicap is good enough. This is a great way to keep the replay value going because you can check the game out every few days to see whats coming up.
As with every year EA has continued on licensing the PGA Tour and a number of professionals who are world famous. Players such as John Daly and Jim Furyk are featured and even Stuart Appleby gets a showing and of course Tiger himself. There is also a number of pre-built fictional characters to choose from so for those who only want a game for a quick hit now and again without having to continuously build up a character then the game can offer that.
The courses are again licensed as well. This year there are fifteen courses to choose from, with a number of licensed ones on offer such as Pebble Beach and Sherwood CC. The courses all look stunning and feature some excellent graphics. However if you don't like a courses layout or think its new, EA have added an option called Tiger Proofing. This allows you to completely alter the courses which are featured and make them even harder. The harder the course is, the more reward you get for a good score which can help boost your character quicker.
In the Tiger Proofing mode you can change things such as the width of fairways and greens, the undulation of the hole, the pattern of the grass and much more. Initially you can only afford one or two courses to play around with but Legend coins obtained in other modes let you unlock more. To cap it all off the game also features compilations of either a random 18 chosen from the courses on offer or others such as Legend compilations and EA Sports favorite holes.
The controls have remained the same with the left analogue stick used to swing the club and you can also put forward and backspin on the ball with button presses during the flight of the ball. The game also switches to a more relevant and useful angle after the ball is hit to follow the flight of the ball and aid you in doing this. If you're playing against an AI player you still have to watch them but are able to speed up their overall stroke. Tour difficulty disables this and can offer a more realistic game of golf for those who want it.
Visually the game looks great. The different courses all offer a unique style and challenge to the player. Before each hole is played a fly by shows the hole and the commentary team (David Feherty and Gary McCord) offers advice on how to tackle the hole. The professionals and fictional characters animate well and show emotion. The commentary is light hearted and not overly serious which may turn some purist golf fans away but overall it doesn't alter the game too much other than they can help you. Another visual aid is on offer this year, Tiger Vision. Each course you get at least one to use and basically it will tell you where tiger would aim if he was taking the shot. Ninety nine times out of one hundred it will go in.
For multiplayer the game offers a number of game modes to play out on the same console but also online play via PS2 online. You can play a quick game online or play in tournaments and EA track a number of different statistics on how you have played online during your matches.
There are a few problems with the game but not enough to really pull the game down. The first is the control system. No matter how much EA improve it, using the analogue stick brings problems, because the analogue is somewhat flimsy it can be hard to get a perfect back swing and forward swing. The other problem is more for those who already own the 2004 edition of the game. If you're not a fan of editing courses or using what some may call a cheat (Tiger Vision) then other than a few new courses there isn't much you won't find in the 2004 game.
Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2005 builds on what has become one of the most popular golf franchises around. With online play and a variety of new modes including the chance to take on some of the greatest golfers in history as well as Tiger himself, Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2005 is the premiere console golf game.
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