Tiger Woods 2004


Review by Matt Paprocki

EA Sports


Graphics: 9.5

Sound: 8

Gameplay: 9

Overall: 9

A slowly evolving franchise over the past few years, EA's under appreciated Tiger Woods series is one of the few games that has truly outclassed itself every year. Yes, this is golf. A sport that most people will quickly avoid when presented with it in every form, but this is Tiger Woods golf, EA style. Golf so good, no matter how much disdain you may have for the game, you'll be hooked within minutes.

Last years edition set a high standard with mountains of features and modes that took most people the entire year to complete (this reviewer included). This year, well lets just say that EA has practically backed themselves into a corner for next years edition. There is practically no way for EA to add anything more to this game. It will not only take this year to complete everything offered, but you'll likely be playing a next generation of consoles before it's all said and done.

It's tough to say which feature is the most significant to the game, but the Pro Shop is truly spectacular. Last year, clubs were simply an award for powering up your golfer. This year, you buy 'em...lots of 'em, along with a gargantuan amount of new stuff. From shafts, clubs, club heads, wristbands, watches, gloves, hats, glasses, shoes, jewelry, shirts, pants, tees, grips, balls, and even more oddball stuff. Nearly all of these items are licensed by a real company, but there's a lot of EA stuff too. Not everything can be purchased outright either. Most of it will need to be unlocked before purchase. Even more special is that there is practically a use for everything in the store, down to the socks that increase your luck.

The most heralded new edition is the game face. Never before has such extensive customization options been crammed into a game. There are sliders for every aspect of your face which include size, shape, eyes, ears, nose, mouth, eyebrows, cheeks, chin, and hair. You can even select your teeth (from braces to vampire fangs)! Creating an exact duplicate of yourself is NOT easy, but patience prevails and with some work, you should do fine. Of course, there's more to your body than your face. Your body can be customized in the same manner. There's a spectacular option to design your own logo/tattoo and put it anywhere you choose. The animations while the creation process is taking place deserve special mention as well, easily inciting a few laughs. Oh, and you can also select your club swing and win/lose animations.

No new edition to the EA Sports line would be complete and Tiger Woods performs admirably. There is now a full PGA Tour season option which feature actual events (and a few created for the game). Unlike last years, if you don't perform well in the first few days of a tourney, you will not make the cut and be tossed, forced to move on. The world tour mode has been changed slightly and you'll now travel to the various continents across the globe to challenge and unlock new players. All of the fantasy players have returned, save for a few new faces, as have some new pro's. Oh, and there's a few DVD-style features on Tiger too. Nothing special, but notable enough to be included.

If this wasn't enough, there's even more to obtain by just playing in the various modes. The EA Sports "Bio" feature is here and not only unlocks features in TW, but other EA Sports games as well. You'll be challenged to match all of Tigers factual accomplishments as you play, each earning you a trophy when completed. 30 deadly scenario's are back to test your skills with the clubs, trophy balls must be attained, your par 5 eagles are tracked, and the new timed events also have their own trophies. These events are triggered by your X-Box's internal clock. They range from birthdays to major holidays. Each of these will also unlock special items in the pro shop, such as a patriotic polo shirt on the 4th of July. Note: No one said you can't cheat a little and set your clock ahead or back a bit to achieve the needed results.

Of course, to actually accomplish all of this, you need to be on the course. Most of the gameplay has remained unchanged. The outstanding (if overly easy) analog swing has returned. Power is still attained by jabbing on the white button and spin is still achieved by blasting the black button repeatedly after the swing is completed. Arcadey? Yes. Fun? Most certainly. There are minor tweaks as hitting the ball down or uphill now has more effect on your shot, but anyone who spent time with the previous edition should have no problem. A grid has also been added to assist in putting, but the addition's relevance is negligible at best. You'll be better off combining your own thoughts and the caddie tips.

As with the gameplay, the graphics have also been the recipient of minor tweaks and upgrades, but again, there hardly noteworthy. Trees now cast better shadows onto the course, clothes now flap in the wind, the crowd has been upgraded, but it's really not enough to be a true upgrade. Worse yet, the returning golfers feature the same clothes, preview videos, and mannerisms. "Yosh" still features the now outdated Freekstyle T-shirt, proof that the expanded features where the focus of the designers. Custom soundtracks are now supported (in any mode and any capacity you may choose), but the new commentary is a letdown. While there's a new commentator, his lines are exact rehashes of Bill MacAffee's from last year.

If anything drags this game down, it's the difficulty level. It's easy...blatantly easy. Slicing or hooking a shot is practically impossible unless your analog stick is broken. Adding power to your shot makes every shot possible, regardless of how hard it might (or should) be. The only notable challenge is late in the game when opponents become deadly accurate from any distance, but by then you should be powered up enough to match them shot for shot. Note that you can turn off the power, spin, and other assistance-type features, but were only human and your bound to cave eventually.

EA claims that this game will take 3 times as long to complete compared to last year, and as scary as it may seem, it's gotta be true. Once your presented with the sheer amount of items to collect, even if they have little or no purpose, you just have to keep going until you get it all. It's rare you can get your $50 worth out of a game, but rest assured, there's more than $50 worth here. You'll spend eons earning enough cash not only to improve your golfer, but buy it ALL. Even if this becomes boring, you'll spend ridiculous amounts of time creating friends and family in the Game Face mode. There's probably even more buried deep within this game that isn't mentioned here. You can't go wrong with EA styled golf this year.


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Last updated: Sunday, April 22, 2007 08:43 PM