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1995-2001
GamesFirst! Magazine

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by EA Sports

PSX2_tigerbounceRED.0142-01.jpg (2342 bytes)My brother is currently enrolled in a Golf Pro College down in Arizona; my step-father is hard at work on his PGA card; and my grandfather, in his mid-eighties, still finds the strength to get out on the greens at least once or twice a week. I’ve always wanted to like golf, so that I could have more opportunities to bond with other members of my family. I remember spending a week with my grandparents in Sun City and desperately wishing that I had the same interest in putting and slicing so that I could have more quality time with my grandfather. He liked golf and I liked video games. Needless to say, we didn’t have too much to talk about. I have tried to foster a love of the sport by taking various classes for beginners, but I’ve always lost interest by the 9th or 10th hole. I’ve only played eighteen holes once in my life and I found it tedious, embarrassing, and frustrating. Golf is too expensive, it takes too long, and it starts too early in the day. I have never understood the country’s fascination with the sport until now. Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2001 has given me a glimpse of what golf can be for those who can really play it.

PSX2_tigerbounceRED.0341-01.jpg (2177 bytes)It’s nice to play a game free from pulsating soundtracks and excessive explosions. Most games I play add tension to my life. Tiger Woods replaces that tension with the soothing sounds of ocean waves and birds in the sky. It’s better than one of those nature CDs. When you add the beautiful scenery to the serene sounds you have the perfect recipe for relaxation. The courses look fantastic. Everything has been rendered to scale in incredible detail. Sometimes I would just stop and take in the view.

PSX2_tigerbounceRED.0455-01.jpg (2515 bytes)In talking about serenity and relaxation, I don’t want to suggest that this game is boring. In fact, Tiger Woods PGA takes all of the boring elements of golf out and streamlines the game. Playing through 18 holes of golf goes remarkably fast. If you want to be aggressive with your play, there is a lot room for that here. This is one of the few games that I’ve played that can be different things for different people. You could take a Happy Gilmore approach sans the Bob Barker confrontation, if that’s what you’d prefer. I personally enjoyed taking my time.

tigerDRIVE.0012-01.jpg (4423 bytes)I really liked the controls for this game. There are a few comprehensive tutorials that will help get you started. The learning curve for basic moves is pretty low, so you’ll be up and playing in no time. Your swing centers around the analog stick. Not only do you have to time your swing for the right amount of power, but you also have to hit your ball square on by pushing the stick straightforward. If the stick goes a little to the right or left you could slice the ball. The other controls for positioning your club and choosing the right swing are also simple and straightforward.

tigerDRIVE.0028-01.jpg (4260 bytes)The on-screen menus combined with the tutorials and instruction manual give you enough background that you can play this game knowing absolutely nothing about the sport. Some of the finer points may be missed by the rank amateurs, but this is golf for dummies in the best sense of the word.

tigerDRIVE.0037-01.jpg (4150 bytes)The hardest part of any golf game I’ve ever played has been reading the green when you need to put. TW solves this by exaggerating the lie of the ground and superimposing a grip with the press of a button. I was impressed by how accurately the ball reacts to the little hills and valleys of the putting green. When you make that 25 foot put, you really feel like you’ve accomplished something.

tigerDRIVE.0048-01.jpg (3649 bytes)You can choose from six golf pros, but I don’t understand why anyone would want to settle for anything less than Tiger. I guess some people do have a thing for underdogs. The character animations are incredible. Every now and again I forgot that I wasn’t watching a video game. When he would crouch down to read a green or pump his arm in triumph after a really long putt, I really believed that it was Tiger on my screen. The only real criticism that anyone could offer against this game is the lack of courses that you get to play. TW for the PS2 only offers three courses to choose from: Pebble Beach, Spyglass Hill, and Poppy Hills. The courses are so meticulously realized that you can overlook this omission of additional courses, but it does cut down a little on the replay value of the game.

The game gives you the option of playing your standard 18 holes, tournaments, and skins. There’s also a nice "play now" option that drops you right into the middle of a game with some very specific obstacles to overcome.

I doubt that you will find a more engrossing golf game out there. The only real criticism I have of Tiger Woods PGA 2001 is the lack of courses (on-line play would have been nice too, but that’s a long way off). Also, with everything that the PS2 can do, I found the amount of animation lacking. I know that eye candy doesn’t make a game, but it can be nice every now and again. A few spectators on the green, or even a caddy, would have been welcome touches. I also wouldn’t have minded having a bird’s eye view of the entire course. These are little criticisms that shouldn’t keep you from buying the game if you are interested in experiencing the strangely addictive serenity of golf on the PS2. I’m not going to go out and buy my own set of clubs because of this game, but I have to admit that after a few rounds I was quite tempted.

Jason Frank

Snapshot

Ups: Gorgeous graphics; good gameplay.

Downs: Not enough courses.

System Reqs:
Sony PlayStation 2

 

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