|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
There are a total of two apparent fans of golf at IMG. That is to say, there are a total of two gentlemen with refined tastes at IMG. Tuncer, being the head honcho as well as one of the two, stays busy by making sure that IMG runs like a well-oiled machine, meaning that it's up to the second of the two to write the review for Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2003.
Tiger Woods 2003, which shall be referred to as TW from here on out, is the latest professional golf game to hit the Mac. Which brings the grand total of currently played Mac golf titles up to two (a magic number, I am convinced). Brought to the Mac by the graces of both Aspyr and Westlake Interactive, TW brings a host of pro golfers, courses, and styles of play to the computer, giving even the most unskilled real life golfer a chance at greatness.
And what better way to pretend to possess elite skills at golf than to step into the shoes of the legendary Tiger Woods himself? A figure so popular that even those who could care less about the difference between a fade and a draw are fans of him, the chance to play a few rounds of golf as Tiger is something more than a few virtual golfers have dreamt about.
Play GolfTW falls squarely under EA Sports, a label with a series of games not exactly known for their subtlety. This point is accentuated by the "extreme" opening movie slapped onto the beginning of the game, where footage of golfers in action is accompanied by Saliva's "Superstar." It's a valiant attempt to make golf appear more exciting than it really is, but even the wizards at EA can only do so much with an event that has people whacking away at a ball with a messed up stick. Thankfully, the extreme element is left behind at the movie, and the rest of the game follows a more sedate presentation that one usually associates with golf.
The main screen consists of several options, with the three main modes of play being Career Mode, Play Golf, and Network Play. Most players will undoubtedly choose to start with Play Golf, which lets players play everything from a short pickup game to a full season in the PGA Tour. Nested in the middle is a staggering variety of game types. Familiar types such as Stroke, Match, and Skins play vie for attention with less traditional types such as Skills Competition, Shootout, Greensome, and Bloodsome.
Shootout and Skills Competition are some of my favorite pick up and play modes. In Shootout, a hole is randomly selected from a course, and the player with the worst score at the end is eliminated, leaving the rest of the group to go on to the next consecutive hole. Skills Competition, on the other hand, is pretty much the Olympics of golf. Players are challenged to complete nine contests of golfing prowess, ranging from shot distance to distance to the hole. Each player gets three attempts, with only the best one counting. While this mode won't do much for scoring averages, it's a great way to test one's skills, or in my case, show just how much those skills lack.
If ever those skills need brushing up, a Practice Area is available, complete with a Driving Range, Chipping Area, and Putting Green. Players can also choose to practice on any hole in any of the available courses, which is great for practicing strategies and techniques that can be later used to decimate opponents, all the while claiming that this is your first time ever playing the hole you've just eagled.
Once players feel their skills are up to par, they can choose to take part in a variety of competitions. There are both EA Sports and PGA Tour seasons available for play, which represent various levels of difficulty. One can also opt to play a full season, which means playing a full set of 18 holes on a variety of golf courses, all in pursuit of that elusive number one spot and the knowledge that most people over 40 will recognize you next time you go grocery shopping.
While winning seasons and what not are great for the ego, I still find myself more partial to those wacky individual challenges. Thankfully, TW also sports the Tour Challenge, in which everything but the kitchen sink is thrown at players in an effort to humble them. Chip challenges, longest drives, insanely difficult putts, and other such unfair challenges will put even the most mouse-competent golfer to the test. Needless to say, this mode is a heck of a lot of fun and is a great way to enjoy a golf-like experience without having to go through the same old routine of drive, iron, chip, putt on hole after hole.
As for player selection, TW contains a full roster of some of the top names in golf. Besides Tiger, players like Bill Macatee, Justin Leonard, Vjay Singh, and Charles Howell round out the impressive list of pro golfers. There are also a large number of famous courses that can be played, such as Spyglass Hill, Pebble Beach, and Princeville. Each one has selectable course conditions, so that players looking for a challenge can up the wind and rain to monsoon speeds, as well as set the rough so high that a weed whacker would stand a better chance of making contact with any ball trapped inside.
Also part of the package is Network Play. Most of the options available in Play Golf appear to be available in Network Play as well, meaning you can challenge that trash talker who's memorized the layout of a certain course to something more skill-oriented like a chipping match. Most of the games have a limit of four players, though Shootout and Scramble allow up to eight golfers. While Mac to PC networking isn't available, players can choose to match by either connecting directly to a friend or by finding players via GameRanger. I also highly recommend the Links Golf Community, which sports a TW ladder that caters to Mac gamers.