Back in the day (you know, six or seven years ago), the PC was the best place to get your virtual golf game on. There simply wasn’t another platform that could compete with the amount of flexibility and power–not to mention storage space–that golf games demand and PCs amply supplied. With the upgraded specs of consoles such as the Xbox and PlayStation 2, the links landscape shifted to a more console-focused market. These days, EA Sports’ Tiger Woods series has become synonymous with PGA golf games, and therefore Tiger’s Cablanasian likeness is all over nearly every currently available gaming platform, including the PC. We recently got a chance to check out Tiger Woods PGA Tour 06 for the PC, and the game is looking to make a strong case for the PC as the returning king of golf platforms.
If you’ve been sticking with consoles for your golfing experience for a while now, you might be surprised at how lush and attractive Tiger 06 looks on a high-end PC. With graphical details set to high, this is simply an amazing-looking game, with great-looking player models, detailed grass textures, some dramatically improved shadow effects, and, new for this year, 1024×768 resolution support. Of course, one expects the game to look great and run well on the top-of-the-line gaming machines, but producers assured us they are looking to make sure Tiger 06 runs well on a large variety of PC specs. There’s even a helpful analyzer tool that will optimize the game to your specific hardware setup after you install the game for the first time.
Longtime Tiger fans will be pleased to hear that the game still supports both the two- and three-click swinging methods when you’re using the mouse, but new this year is the implementation of game controller support. In our hands-on time with Tiger 06, we played a few holes using a wireless Logitech gamepad and got to check out the new analog swing control, which feels remarkably similar to last year’s console game. Just as in Tiger Woods 2005 for consoles, you use the left analog stick to control your backswing and follow-through, and also like in last year’s console game, you can add extra juice to your shot by rapidly pressing the assigned face button. Unfortunately, the PC game does not implement the right stick “shot shaping” controls that will be found in Tiger 06 for consoles.
Other cool PC-specific shot features include a shot analyzer–which gives you a quick overview of your performance after each shot, including crucial information such as angle of approach on the ball and club speed–and the implementation of a much-requested practice swing mode. Simply press the “p” button on your keyboard, and you enter practice mode, where you can take as many practice hacks as you like (complete with the aforementioned post-swing analyzer tool, to get an idea of how your shot is shaping up).
On the greens, the putting game in Tiger 06 for the PC has taken advantage of the new gamepad controller as well. Just as in the console games, you’ll be using the left stick to putt the ball. The putting grid has also received an upgrade, mainly in the form of a color-coded system that indicates the slope of the putting surface–blue for downhill and red for uphill, with variations in between to designate the degree of slope. As opposed to relatively flat greens, such as those at Pinehurst’s No. 2 course, the color-coded effect is most noticeable on rolling, undulating greens, such as those found at Pasatiempo (one of several new courses found in this year’s game), where the grid appears as if it were strung with Christmas lights.
Taking it Back to the (Really) Old School
If you’ve seen some of the screenshots associated with the game, you’ve undoubtedly noticed Tiger Woods in a getup that could have come straight from the 1800s. No, you’re not seeing things, and no, Nike isn’t supporting an entirely new line of knickers. The garment change is indicative of one of Tiger 06’s new features: “rivals mode,” a single-player experience that will have you taking your created golfers through five separate eras of golf’s history, challenging some of the all-time greats and ultimately setting yourself up for a final confrontation against Tiger himself, to prove once and for all who the greatest golfer of all time is. Your goal in rivals mode will be to earn the number one ranking as the all-time best golfer and defend that ranking against Tiger once he makes his ultimate challenge. The mode is an extension of last year’s legends challenges, but it follows a more-structured approach this time around. You start off in the 1800s, in the era of legendary golf pioneer Tom Morris Sr. (also known as Old Tom Morris), who himself was a protégé of Allan Robertson, who is generally regarded as the first professional golfer. By taking on challenges found in each era, competing in tournaments, and beating the legend from each era, you progress to the next time period in golf’s history and prepare for an entirely new set of challenges.
The list of other golfing legends you’ll face in Rivals mode reads like a who’s who of golfing lore: Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, and, of course, Tiger himself. Each legend has an era devoted to him, and in order to progress, you’ll need to ultimately face and defeat each one. As you move through the eras and up the all-time rankings, the look and feel of your golf clubhouse HQ will change to reflect the time period you’re currently playing in–from the stately wood-paneled walls of yesteryear, to the garish ’70s-style furniture of the Nicklaus era, all the way to the gadget-filled clubhouse of the modern-day Tiger era. Each era will have its own equipment available for purchase as well, from the leather balls stuffed with feathers in the Morris era to today’s graphite shafts and high-tech golf balls.
The PC version of Tiger 06 will offer a fresh take on the traditional PGA Tour mode found on other platforms. Instead of merely taking your created player into season after season of simulated PGA Tours, the PC game will start you off as a local hack, playing weekend links at courses with your buddies. As you improve your game, you’ll eventually progress until you’re taking part in the time-honored American business tradition of playing golf with your boss. Then it’s on to a local tournament, national amateur tournaments, up through Q school to qualify for your tour card, and, ultimately, the big show itself: the PGA Tour schedule. It’s during those weekend hack rounds that you’ll become familiar with the different match types, such as four-ball, alternate shot, stableford, and so on.
One of the things we’re most excited about with all versions of the upcoming Tiger Woods game is the welcome split between money and experience points. Instead of spending money on upgrading your golfer’s attributes, at the expense of heading to the pro shop and blowing cash on some of the more than 3,000 items found in this year’s game, you’ll be using earned experience points to improve your golfer. Whatever money you win in the game is yours to spend solely on apparel and gear for your created golfer.
With new courses such as Cog Hill, Pinnacle at Troon North, Witch Hollow at Pumpkin Ridge, and the aforementioned Pasatiempo, plus a beefier online play experience including “ready play” (where up to four golfers can play their approach shots simultaneously, without having to wait for one another), and enough control options to please new and old PC Tiger players alike, Tiger 06 for the PC has the makings of yet another successful entry in the series. We’ll have more on the PC version of Tiger in the near future.
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Tiger Woods PGA Tour 06 Hands-On - Graphics, Shot Options, and Old-School Threads have 1478 words, post on www.gamespot.com at August 3, 2005. This is cached page on Auto News. If you want remove this page, please contact us.