If you enjoy playing golf games on your console of choice then you're likely to be rather familiar with the Tiger Woods franchise, EA have released a Tiger Woods game every year since 1999, so by now you'd expect a pretty accurate golf simulation. This brings us to Tiger Woods PGA Tour 07. After a lacklustre Xbox 360 debut earlier in the year EA have a lot to prove, so is Tiger Woods PGA Tour 07 the golf game we've been after or a double bogey?
The first thing you'll notice when you begin a game is just how many gameplay options there are. You can start a career and play either a PGA Tour season or the tiger challenge. The PGA Tour season is where most of the Xbox 360 achievements can be unlocked, so you'll want to play through it. The tiger challenge places you against twenty other golfers. There are also a few basic rookie training challenges. When you first begin a career mode you can create your own golfer and the customisation options are plentiful. Obviously the basic options, such as name and gender are customisable, but you can also modify the hair, skin, eyes, brow, mouth and more. You can literally spend half an hour just creating your own character and you can create extremely realistic golfers or characters that look like they've just come back from a Halloween party.
Outside of the career mode there are ten mini-games to engage in such as a closest to the pin contest and a target-to-target mini-game. You can also choose to play the more traditional game modes such as stroke play, match play or skins. Finally, there are two types of arcade modes; battle golf and one ball. In battle gold, for every hole you win you're able to remove a club from your opponent's bag, which means that towards the end of the game you could be using some less than desirable clubs for putting or driving. In one ball, you and your opponent share the same ball for your shots. The objective is to be one to sink the putt, which sounds rather easy. The catch is that you need to actually hit a target area on the course whilst still setting up a tough shot for your opponent. If you don't make the target area then you'll lose a turn, which nearly sets up an easy win for your opponent.
Tiger 07 also features support for up to four players online. You can play ranked and unranked matches online and we never encountered any isuses with lag, everything ran very well despite the fact we didn't find many Australians online. Like with all of EA's 07 titles, Tiger 07 features ESPN integration, so a news ticker can run down the bottom of the screen during your game, but it's a relatively useless feature, so you're likely to just turn the feature off unless you're really into ESPN.
The key thing in any golf game is the swing and Tiger 07 utilises the true swing system once again. The left analogue stick controls the shot strength and accuracy whilst the right stick is used to take control of the loft. What really differentiates this title from its predecessors is the true aiming system. You need to aim for an area which is marked by a circle in the game. If you hit the ball right then your ball will end up somewhere inside the circle, so you're not entirely sure where the ball will land. If you miss the circle then your shot will go astray. The circle starts off really large when you first begin and becomes smaller as your player's skills increase. This means that if you use any of the pro golfers (of which there are 15 in the game) then the circle will be really small. The true aiming system does result in a more realistic and less formulaic game. Putting is much the same as in Tiger 06. The left stick is used to putt but you're also now able to add top spin to the ball. You can also take speed off the ball by adding backspin
The Xbox 360 version is substantially different from the current generation versions. Tiger 06 featured six courses, Tiger 07 on the Xbox 360 features twelve courses and the current generation versions feature 21 courses, it's an improvement but still a disappointment that the "next generation" version contains less content than the PlayStation 2 edition. The team tour mode has also been removed in the Xbox 360 version, but the Tiger challenge is a worthy replacement.
Visually the game looks incredible. All of the courses are very well detailed so you're able to see the bumps in the courses, the players are well modelled, although obviously Tiger Woods looks the best. The crowd still looks pretty lifeless and you may hit the ball into them every now and then. The audio is about what you expect from a golf game, the commentary is provided by David Feherty and Gary McCord once again and they do an okay job, but comments will repeat. In the background you'll hear bird noises and a few extra details.
In terms of content, there is plenty to keep you going in the game. The two career modes are lengthy enough but then there are the arcade modes and the mini-games to keep you occupied. The online play is enjoyable and the game is quite popular online, the achievements are well spread out too, so you'll need to invest a fair amount of time into the game to get the full 1000 points.
Despite the fact that EA have been honing the Tiger Woods franchise for eight years there is still room for improvement. The disappointing number of courses is a shame but the true aiming system results in a realistic game of golf. Tiger Woods PGA Tour 07 is far better than it's predecessor and shows that EA are working on improving the series, despite what people may think.