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Publisher: Electronic Arts    Genre: Sports
Min OS X: 10.4    CPU: Intel @ 1800 MHz    RAM: 999 MB    DVD-ROM

Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2008
November 6, 2007 | Eddie Park

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It's been a while since we've seen Tiger Woods on the Mac, with the last incarnation being somewhere back in 2005. With this year's announcement of EA's return to the Mac platform, Tiger Woods PGA Tour 08 represents not only just that, but also serves as an example of a PC game ported to the Mac via TransGaming's Cider technology. Just how good an example will be discussed later on in this review, but it's safe to say that TW08 has quite a burden resting on its polo-shirted shoulders.

While I'm not a golf fan, I do have fond memories of TW05, a game that was genuinely fun to play on its own merits, golf skills non-withstanding. Therefore I was looking forward to checking out TW08, which not only promised a greater number of golf courses, but even greater customization in the create-a-golfer area, full online play via the EA Sports Online interface, and a large number of real golfers, including several from the LPGA.

EA Sports games are famous (or perhaps infamous) for seeing mostly incremental updates year after year, with many a gamer griping that they have to pay full price for what seems like a minimalist upgrade. The problem lies in whether or not these updates are actually good. Unfortunately, in the case of TW08, these upgrades don't seem to make it more than halfway down the fairway when it comes to success. While some of the upgrades are welcome, others may have folks scratching their heads, while still others are potentially annoying to the point of hurling one's mouse across the room depending on one's general temperament.

The usual
TW08 is a full-featured title, a virtual necessity in a game that pretty much consists of whacking away at a tiny ball with oddly-bent sticks. Besides the typical option of playing a relaxing single-player game on one of the many selectable golf courses, TW08 also features a PGA Tour mode in which players can take a created golfer or an existing real-life one and work him/her up the ranks. Unlike the career mode of most other sports titles, players must do more than just win games - they must meet a variety of objectives, including the accumulation of money, hitting calendar events, improving their sponsorships, and even upgrading their hotel accommodations. In short, players must become complete sellouts if they hope to place in the top 144 golfers, which in turn will earn them a shot at the FedExCup Playoffs, the ultimate goal of TW08's tour mode.

The PGA Tour mode could have ended up as overwhelming with all its variables, but TW08 pulls it off quite nicely. An in-game laptop/calendar and notebook summarize your career path and objectives, and it's easy to pick and choose which events you want to hit on the road to the championships. Starting off as a hack playing against friends, players will eventually work their way up through to the big time, paying exorbitant entry fees for tournaments in hopes of challenging some of the best in the world. For those that would rather skip all this mess and go straight for the glory shot, a FedExCup Playoff option is also available.

Playing in a tournament setting is quite a different experience than playing against some unknowns on an unpopulated course. Throngs of people line each fairway, cheering or groaning depending on the success of your shots. Sometimes, in the background, you can hear other crowds doing the same for players on other holes. It's also a bit of a kick to hear your player be introduced to the crowd on the first hole. The announcer commentary, in contrast, sounds a bit choppy, with sound bites being obviously triggered by in-game events, rather than sounding more natural and flowing. Said commentary can actually make putting easier in some cases, however, as they'll often end up analyzing the lie of the putting green for you.

It should be noted that everything you see in TW08 is a potential obstacle. This includes not only the usual hazards, but the surrounding vegetation and even the crowds if playing in a tournament setting. I found myself waving my fist more than once at a lunkhead in the crowd that just stood there as my wayward shot sailed straight for him, bouncing off of him and landing in some godforsaken area.


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