Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2006
EA's latest isn't a hole in one, but it's still very impressive.
Two Tiger Woods games in one year? One would think that would be kind of overkill for a handheld game system, but there's a reason for this. See, the Sony PSP launched back in March, so of course, EA set out to make a golf game to capitalize on the success of the platform. Thus, Tiger Woods PGA Tour Golf was born. Was the game fun? Yes. Was it fully loaded? Yes. Was it perfect? No way in Hades. The constant, overlong load times and the somewhat "ragged on the edges" appearances and feel kept it from behind an all-out contender, but it still made for a good 18-holer when you were on the go. I was generous and gave it a decent score.
For its latest PSP title,Tiger Woods PGA Tour 06, EA has basically gone back to the successful formula and made the necessary tweaks to make it the essential golf game for the fall season, right alongside Hot Shots Golf: Open Tee. Those long load times that could've had you knitting a sweater between sessions? History. They're now under ten seconds a pop. But has anything else been improved? Absolutely.
First off, you'll notice that the game packs a couple of new modes. You can challenge several legendary players in their time eras with Rivals Mode, earning yourself some killer cash on the side and taking on a few famous faces in the meantime. It isn't as stocked as the console version's Rivals game, but there are over 75 challenges to complete and different players to unlock, which further enhance the game.
Something should also be said about Putting Frenzy, a new mini-game that's also on the console editions. In it, you have to make a certain number of putts within the time limit in order to win. It's rather boring on its own, but call in a couple of friends to play alongside you and have some drinks for each missed putt and we are talking party game. (For the younger gamers out there, drink something like soda and then try to belch real loud.)
As far as the essential game itself, it's seen some slight improvement in the gameplay. The controls feel a lot more natural than before, complete with the swing meter and backspin/roll system. You basically use the R button to build up power on your club and then, after the shot, direct your ball to spin in any given direction. It's just as fun as it always was, and you can play on a number of courses, including the likes of Pebble Beach and St. Andrews, among others.
Something should also be said for the putting system. Instead of drawing a boring path that your ball will follow, there's an all new grid system and it works wonders here. This allows you to work with the dual putting system that's employed and make some sure shots. It works better for the handheld front because of the scrunched view, so no complaints here.
?The general modes are here, but you can also build your dream golfer in GameFace and take them on the Tour to test their skills and build their attributes with a point system. It's not as hyper-detailed as it is in the console version but it's adequate. There's also numerous mini-games that you can practice your skills in, and you're welcome to invite some friends along via Wi-Fi play in these games or just in normal Stroke Play. The results may surprise you, as this game becomes real engaging with a gaggle of buddies.
The game's presentation also seems a bit more solid. The graphics won't amaze but they get the job done. Sometimes the camera can be a little bothersome, but not to the point of overkill. The audio is also pretty good, with announcers on hand to comment about your game and the occasional crowd reactions coming into play depending on how you're doing. It's too bad you still can't put your own MP3's into the experience, but you can't have everything.
Tiger Woods PGA Tour 06 is leaps and bounds better than the previous edition, and a worthwhile recommendation to anyone who loves golf. Polish up those clubs and get to swinging already!
What's Hot: A solid improvement over the first.
What's Not: Still has some camera issues.