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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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Graphics and Sound
TW is one of the first golf games I've ever played on the Mac that sports a full 3D engine. While it's not the prettiest 3D game out there by a long shot, it is one of the prettiest golf games I've ever played. Each course is extremely well rendered and detailed, from bushes and trees that sway in the wind to the make of each hole. It's very easy to tell where the rough, traps, and green are at a glance, even in the distance. Various courses will sport other touches, such as cacti, scoreboards, castles, and galleries full of animated spectators.

Player models are full-bodied and well detailed, with clothes sporting logos, wrinkles, and buttons. The eyes on each golfer look a little dead and their clothing seems starched to the extreme, but this is offset by the large set of animations present in the game. Idling golfers will size up shots, take practice swings, and eye the lie. Hit a shot too far to one side, and the golfer will let you know, tilting his body, taking a couple of steps in the offending direction, or shaking his head in frustration. Make a great shot, and the golfer will nod, point, or in Tiger's case, bust out his signature fist pump.

Thanks to its 3D capabilities, TW sports some impressive camera work. Besides the Shot Target cam and the controllable camera, TW will use a variety of camera angles during play to make the experience more cinematic. A long drive may be followed by an arial view, while a putt may feature a reverse camera angle that follows the ball while showing a golfer's reaction to the putt. For those that fancy themselves directors, the cinematic cam can also be tweaked with a variety of selectable angles and cutaways.

Golf is not known for its noises. Given that detail, TW correspondingly doesn't offer much in the way of audio, and doesn't really have to. The sound of a club hitting a ball, the sound of a ball hitting the ground, and the cheering or groaning of the galleries is about all there is for sound effects, though ambient sounds such as the wind blowing or birds chirping may also be heard here and there. The only music that occurs is in menu selection, which has a surprising number of tunes, including a unique one for each course during the course selection phase. Being a music fan, I think it would've been nice if there were an option to have background music playing while actually golfing as well.

As for voice, I have yet to hear a golfer say anything, though a generally excellent running commentary is provided by David Feherty and Bill Macatee. I say generally, because while their commentary regarding course conditions, lie, and driving options are generally sound, their advice regarding putts leaves a bit to be desired. Often times the advice they gave for a putt was exactly the wrong thing to do, and after a while I decided it was a sound policy just to ignore them altogether and go by my own judgment. Which, admittedly, isn't much better, but it does save me a couple of points.

Unfortunately, all this eye candy comes at a price in performance. Running the game at 800x600 with generally medium details, I was still chugging along at around 24 fps. Considering that I'm running on a G4/1.25 equipped with a GeForce 4 Ti, I expected things to run just a little bit better. Granted, things like golfer shadows, animated trees, and high detail textures aren't absolutely necessary when playing a game of golf, but TW obviously has the potential to be a terrific looking golf game, and it was annoying that I couldn't squeeze better graphics performance out of it.

Tee Off
TW is one of the best golf games I've ever played. It has a huge number of game types, a robust career mode that allows players to make the golfer of their dreams, and has a great control scheme. I absolutely love the various Challenge game types, which in some ways are more fun to play than the actual game of golf itself.

Besides the excellent gameplay, there's also the longevity factor of this title that makes it appealing. Let's face it - competitive sports games can be played into the ground when played with the right people. Couple that with the large number of courses and game types, and even someone who never plays against a human opponent could spend countless hours mastering the various nuances of TW.

If you're not a fan of golf, you probably won't find much interesting about this title besides the opening movie, though the simplified Click control schemes and Tiger Woods star power may coerce you into trying a game or two. However, if you're a golf fan, I highly encourage you to pick this title up if you haven't already - you won't be disappointed. The only real caveat I can think of is the graphics performance, but the high level of gameplay details, robust roster of players and courses, and the ability to play as Tiger Woods should overshadow that.

  • Large variety of game types.
  • Good-sized roster of players and courses.
  • Four solid control schemes.
  • Tiger Woods. Nike Swoosh.

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