Another year, another instalment of EA’s Tiger Woods golf games. It only seems like yesterday that Tiger Woods PGA Tour 07 was in my PlayStation 3 and as great as it was, there were still some aspects of the gameplay that needed further tweaking to make it an essential title. Well, let’s hope that EA have taken the fans’ criticism on board and this year offer us something special…Sorry to burst your collective bubble, but don’t expect a giant leap in terms of content and overall improvements from the last game and Tiger Woods PGA Tour 08. Having said that, the new features this year are hardly your run-of-the-mill generic updates and they do offer a more varied gaming experience. The first (and most noticeable) improvement is the inclusion of the Gamernet feature. Think of it as EA’s equivalent of Xbox Live’s online community and you have a pretty good idea of what to expect.You must first register your nickname on a special Tiger Woods PGA Tour 08 website, but this is a fairly pain-free process. It is well worth the five minutes it takes to set up and you’ll need an account to save all of your achievements to, won’t you? Not only that, but you can also use this account to register your achievements in all the other recent EA sports titles you own! Not something to be sniffed at, eh? Once you have sorted out all of the minor details on your account such as name, age, sex, etc. it’s time to test drive another of the new additions to this year’s version of the Tiger Woods franchise and boy is it a good ‘un.Putting your face onto an in-game avatar is nothing new: Tony Hawk had a similar feature in its franchise. Tiger Woods PGA Tour 08 just takes it to a whole new level. Get a mate with a digital camera to take a couple of photos of your face – from straight on and your profile – and then add them via a USB cable or upload them to your Gamernet account. By selecting the Gameface option in-game you can retrieve these saved photographs and create yourself in the game. To ensure that you don’t end up looking like a baboon’s backside when configuring your avatar’s face there is a simple exercise you have to perform so that the major facial features are highlighted correctly. a simple example picture makes this process even easier. The end result is simply astounding – it really did look like me! What’s more, the animations matched up perfectly to the facial features so even in motion the faces are realistic.Gamernet also provides the player the opportunity to upload their favourite saved golf shots for the rest of the World to see and even better than that challenge the World to beat them! Saved replays take on a whole new meaning when you’re able to say to a mate ‘anything you can do…’ It’s not just your average gamer who cannot help bragging about their prowess online; many of the game’s pro golfers have also posted their own challenges on Gamernet for players to attempt. However, when you’ve got a shot that ricochets off a rock from thirty yards from the green before rolling into the hole then you know that you’ll have your work cut out for you.A player confidence system has also been introduced that can provide penalties, and if you’re lucky, advantages when playing difficult shots. When taking your shots your target cursor displays an area that signifies where the ball will end up if hit straight and with 100% power. Now with amateur golfers this circular area is quite large and thus the ball could end up anywhere in that large radius – not good when trying to chip it in from a bunker. However, the professional golfers have a target area that is much smaller in diameter and can aim their shots with pinpoint accuracy if they play their cards right. So how do they do this? Well, like all skills it takes practice.For every good shot you make (clean hit, overpowered shot, on the green, etc.) your confidence for that hole you are currently on grows. The more confident you get on a whole, the smaller the target area gets. Following so far? Just to mix things up a little your confidence also takes into account the type of shot you are taking and the club you are using. It takes a h** of a lot of practice to get those target circles much smaller than when they start out, but if you take ‘risky’ shots (the target circle turns red) then you can get boosted confidence gains. This is a double-edged sword however as missing a risky shot dents your confidence significantly. Confidence is not an integral skill to master to succeed in the game, but it certainly makes a notable difference to your shot accuracy if it is high. Just compare an amateur created golfer and Tiger Woods taking a tee shot on a par 3 hole to compared where they end up on the green and you’ll see what I mean.Speaking of landing on the green, my least favourite part of golf sims – putting – is made somewhat easier by the inclusion of a putt preview shot in this latest Tiger Woods outing. For every putt attempt you make you are allowed one (and only one) preview of where the ball will end up if you hit it at full power where you cursor is currently pointing to. The advantages of this are twofold; first you get to learn how a ball will behave on certain gradients and secondly, you gradually get more proficient at aiming from the outset as you are constantly tying to get the best position before you attempt a putt. This is especially important in higher difficulty settings where you have no putt preview.
Founder and Editor of PC Invasion. Veteran PC gamer of over 22 years.