Tiger Woods PGA Tour 08 Xbox 360
Published by: EA Sports
Developed by: EA Sports
Release Date: Out Now
This year we've been fortunate enough to see the latest Tiger Woods game on a variety of platforms. The most visually impressive of these, of course, has been the Xbox 360 version. Superior graphics and a more stylish method of presentation aren't the only extras you'll find on the 360 version however. The 360 version, like the forthcoming PlayStation 3 version, allows you to create your golfer in your own image by importing your facial details either by using the Xbox Live Vision camera or from a digital photo. There are a few more extras here too. Let's take a look at what Tiger Woods PGA Tour 08 on the 360 has to offer.
This year's Tiger Woods PGA Tour game offers five new courses, a new confidence mechanic, an all new championship format, a new Photo Game Face, twenty-one professional golfers and the return of an old control method amongst other things. Cog Hill, Harbour Town and East Lake are just three of the new courses and the course total is now up to 16. As before you'll get to play through a virtual golf career, play all the usual wacky characters in the Tiger Challenge and play a variety of traditional game modes, which now has the Bingo Bango Bongo game variation. There are also a variety of arcade golf games and mini-games in addition to the practice mode. Both offline and online multiplayer games support up to four players.
Before you begin playing your virtual golfing career in TW PGA Tour 08 you're going to have to create your own golfer. Whilst you can do this in a manner that's similar to the previous games in the series, we chose to test out the new Photo Game Face feature. Using the Xbox Live Vision camera I took pictures of my face and profile and after doing so I had to move several markers over key areas of my photographs. The whole process probably took around fifteen minutes or so. I was actually expecting the results to be quite horrible. In actual fact the results were pretty good. I wouldn't say I created a perfect virtual representation of myself but certain facial features were surprisingly accurate. It's not a key feature but it's certainly a good addition and another useful function for the Xbox Live Vision camera. Of course you could opt to use digital photographs to create your golfer. The game manual suggests that higher resolution pictures will give superior results. You'll need to upload your photo to www.tigerwoods08.com in order to use them however.
In terms of how a round of golf plays, there aren't too many changes from last year's version. There is a new putt preview feature. This allows you to press the LB button to see the path the ball will travel. You can only use this feature once per shot however. The game now models confidence for every shot and every shot type you take on every hole. Essentially the game remembers how well you hit certain shots and which holes you've hit them on. If you hit a specific shot well you'll gain confidence (causing the confidence meter to fill) and this will give you a better chance of hitting that type of shot well next time. Of course hitting a bad shot does the opposite and makes things a little more difficult. Confidence affects the size of the targeting circle. The bigger the circle, the more room for error. Playing well and gaining confidence will decrease the size of the circle. Attempting risky shots can also decrease your confidence. Confidence is carried over from round to round, essentially adding a level of realism to your virtual golfer. New controls have been included too which makes it easier to perform draw and fade shots.
On the multiplayer side of things, the new EA Sports GamerNet feature allows you to save replays of a single shot, a hole, front or back nine and even a whole round and then post it online for others to download and attempt to beat you. Of course you can also download other players' challenges and have a go at them. It's a solid addition to the game and what I really like is that you don't need to have an Xbox Live gold membership to make the most of it, which is a nice touch and means that just about anyone who has their console connected to the Internet can enjoy the feature. As far as online play goes it's pretty much the same as last year's game. There is noticeable lag at times and it's not uncommon to experience connection problems.
Another new feature this year is actually a reintroduction of an old control method. It's been a while since the triple button press control method has been used in an EA Sports PGA game but TW PGA Tour 08 gives you the ability to switch to the classic control method at any time you wish. All you have to do is press down the right analogue stick to switch from the default analogue swing method to the three button press golf swing of yesteryear. I've often wondered why this control method hasn't been included in the previous Tiger Woods PGA Tour games. Sure, analogue swing controls have been in vogue for quite a few years now but there are plenty who just can't get on with it. I would have had a lot more success in playing offline multiplayer games over the years if the option to use the classic three button press golf swing had been available. As always, you'll press a button (the A button) to start your swing. Press the button again when the power gauge is at the required setting and finally press the button a third time to determine your accuracy. Whilst you would expect this three button press golf swing control to work well, you wouldn't expect it to be so sensitive. Never has a three button press golf swing control been so difficult in a golf game.
Graphically the game hasn't improved much upon last year's Tiger Woods PGA Tour 07. Sure the extra courses look good and in terms of presentation the game is quite impressive but there are some elements, such as some of the trees and various objects that line the course, that just look like they've been ripped from the PlayStation 2 version. The frame rate is prone to dipping too, which is disappointing seeing as this is now the third Tiger Woods game to arrive on the Xbox 360. Thankfully the frame rate dips do not occur during the golf shots and therefore won't affect your enjoyment of the game. Nevertheless, the frame rate problems should have been sorted out by now.
Tiger Woods PGA Tour08 is pretty much the same as last year's Tiger Woods game in regards to its support for deaf gamers. The commentary is once again not subtitled. The movie clips that highlight the new features are not subtitled although you can read about the new features in the game which represents something of an improvement. Text instructions are provided for the tutorials found in the game. All of the essential information is provided in text so whilst there is plenty of information that isn't subtitled, it's still possible for deaf gamers to enjoy what's on offer.
If you're a longstanding fan of the Tiger Woods PGA Tour series then there's a good chance you'll want what Tiger Woods PGA Tour 08 has to offer. The new courses and new features manage to make the game slightly better than Tiger Woods PGA Tour 07. That said, those who only buy the occasional golf game and who bought last year's game might feel as though the new additions aren't enough to justify another purchase. There have been a few reviews stating how the 360 version of Tiger Woods PGA Tour 08 has various bugs that prevent the completing of the Tiger Challenge mode. We didn't experience this although it's worth pointing out that an update was downloaded so if there were problems it's fair to say that they have been corrected. Of course this would require that your console be connected to the Internet. All things considered then, Tiger Woods PGA Tour 08 is another solid addition to the series.
Fans of the series will no doubt appreciate the extra courses and additional features. There isn't the same jump in quality as there was between Tiger Woods PGA Tour 06 and Tiger Woods PGA Tour 07 but it's still well worth your attention if you are a fan of the series.