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Publisher: Aspyr Media    Genre: Sports
Min OS X: 10.1    CPU: G3 @ 450 MHz    RAM: 256 MB    Hard Disk: 850 MB    Graphics: 32 MB VRAM

Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2003
August 11, 2003 | Eddie Park

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Career Mode
Eventually, one may get tired of playing as Tiger Woods, David Feherty, or any of the many provided real-life golf pros. Or rather, one may get tired of making said golf pro look like a rank amateur. When the guilt finally becomes overwhelming, one can turn to the Career Mode and create a golfer that, at least in the beginning, more accurately represents one's own skill in real life.

Golfer creation is quite flexible. Players can choose from a variety of cosmetic choices, including photo, hair, hat, clothes, face, facial hair, pants, and shoes. The shirts in particular are a riot, ranging from subdued golf shirts to some truly teeth-clenching sweater/button down combinations in garish colors guaranteed to make those guys from that new man makeover show wrinkle their collective noses in disgust.

Besides looks, players can edit the truly important categories, including attributes and equipment. Attributes are broken up into Power, Accuracy, Recovery, Distance Control, and Putting. Each meter, which ranks from Amateur to Master, starts at 10, and can be increased by spending cash. Equipment consists of clubs, shaft flex, club types, and ball types. While players will start with a default set of each, they'll eventually want to purchase more clubs, giving a greater variety to select from when sallying forth into play. It's also useful to purchase a shaft flex, club type, and ball type that suit one's play style.

Once a player is squared away, he or she can start trying to build up a career. Golfing events are displayed via a Career Calendar, and players can pick and choose which events to enter in a given month. Each event carries an entrance fee as well as a winner's purse, and can vary wildly in scope, with game types such as Match, Stroke, and Skills play making regular appearances. Besides more traditional games of golf, players will find themselves entering things like Chippers Challenge and Long Ball Battle. Besides building one's credibility rating, the money earned from such events can be used to further upgrade both attributes and equipment. On the other hand, run out of money and the game will ask that bankruptcy be declared, meaning that cash will be given in exchange for the loss of hard-earned attribute points.

Career modes are usually my least favorite parts of sports games, owing to the fact that I prefer pick up games. However, TW's Career Mode is very much like that of a pick up game, allowing me to pick an event that I felt like getting humiliated at in any given moment. It's also a great way to experiment with the variety of equipment that is available. Of course, a created player can also be freely used in the other golf modes as well, which is great for those that could previously only daydream about taking on the world's best.

Trueswing - True Mouse Skill
Golf is a game of control. Consequently, it becomes an interesting exercise when attempting to project the nuances of such control into a computer game. To this end, TW does a fantastic job of giving players as much control as possible for each shot. This is facilitated in no small part due to a solid controllable camera. The camera, which defaults to a side view of the player facing the hole, is completely controllable, meaning that players can soar around the entire course and look at it from a variety of angles, making it easier to judge a shot.

Another great addition to this is the Shot Target camera. When toggled, the shot camera will start from the golfer and fly over the course, simulating the projected path of the ball based on whatever club is currently selected as well as the proposed direction of the shot. What the Shot Target cam doesn't do is take into account things like fades, draws, or wind speed, but this of course would completely ruin the challenge of the game anyway. It does, however, give a good general idea of the flight path of the ball, which is an invaluable thing, particularly for novices, who may have difficulty judging which club to use.

A bar on the bottom of the play screen provides at-a-glance information, including distance to the hole, height of the hole relative to the ball, wind speed/direction, and the current lie of the ball. In addition, players can choose from a variety of shot types, including Full, Chip, High Spin, Punch, Flop, and the almighty Power Shot. Further control can be had by using the Trajectory Adjustment slider, which allows for fine shot adjustment, including bump-and-run shots to pitch shots. Players can also choose which club to use - clicking on the current club type will cause a cool little golf bag interface that displays all the available clubs to pop up, from which a club can be selected. Those unfamiliar with golf clubs can simply mouse over each club, whereupon a pop up window will show the estimated maximum distance of that club.

Once a shot has been planned out, players can finally setup to take a whack at the ball itself. There are four swing types available, including 2-Click, 3-Click, Trueswing (V), and Trueswing (H). The Click methods are meant for lamers such as myself, and allow one to make accurate swings without much trouble. In 3-Click mode, one simply clicks once to get the Swing Meter started. Once the power arc gets to the appropriate spot, a second click will send the meter swinging back down, whereupon a third click will actually complete the swing. Ideally, the third click should fall at the same time the meter hits the contact line at the bottom, meaning the shot will be straight. Clicking to the right or left of this contact line will cause the ball to fade or draw. For those that wish to avoid this altogether, the 2-Click method eliminates this step, meaning the only thing one has to worry about is power.

True mouse jockeys will opt for Trueswing. I don't care how much Quake masters may crow about their mouse skills - no one has any right to brag about their "l33t m0uz3 5killz" unless they've mastered Trueswing. Basically put, Trueswing challenges players to depict the swinging of a golf club using the motion of a mouse, either vertically (V) or horizontally (H), depending on preference. This consists of much more than just moving the mouse back and forth - players must attempt to control the tempo and rhythm of the swing, with a smooth backstroke and a swing speed dependent on the shot desired. In order to maximize control over the swing, Trueswing takes into account many fine details, including the speed of the backswing and downswing, any deviation of angle on the movement itself, and whether or not the mouse returns to its starting position. Any of these factors can change a shot dramatically. In the hands of a pro, this is a great way to perform some amazing shots. In the hands of someone like me, it can be an exercise in frustration. To be honest, however, playing with Trueswing is infinitely more fun than the click method, and is a great way to increase the enjoyment of playing TW. I highly recommend that people who play this game take the time to learn its intricacies.

Thankfully, there's an included Trueswing Analyzer that allows players to see the results of an attempted swing. The information displayed includes Ball flight, club speed, impact, tempo, and club path. The Analyzer makes it easier to see what went right and what needs improvement, which in turn makes it easier to learn how to effectively use Trueswing during play.


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