Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2001
|a game by||Electronic Arts, EA Sports, and Stormfront Studios|
|Platforms:||PC, Playstation 2, Playstation|
|Editor Rating:||7.6/10, based on 4 reviews, 5 reviews are shown|
|User Rating:||8.0/10 - 2 votes|
|Rate this game:|
|See also:||Tiger Woods Pga Games|
Tiger Woods is without doubt one of the most naturally talented sportsmen on the face of the planet. He has single-handedly made golf 'cool', and for the first time in history kids are growing up wanting to be professional golfers. It comes as quite a shock then to find that a virtual legend can have his name and likeness plastered all over a game that will barely scrape into the annals of mediocrity.
It you thought Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2001 would iron out the flaws of last year's tepid offering you would be sadly mistaken. Tiger 2001 has loyally allowed all its failings to stay. So, it's a big warm welcome back to the same blocky graphics, the same jerky animation, the same awful Pro Swing and the same soul-destroying putting system.
The general lack of improvement is truly disturbing. The two new PGA golfers, Stuart Appleby and Jim Furyk, are meaningless names to those who don't spend their entire lives glued to Sky Sports 3, and new courses, including Sugarloaf and River Highlands, do little to improve the personality of the eight uninspiring TPC courses. If Tiger 2001 is the result of a year's hard graft, you've got to say it's a pretty poor effort. OK, so PGA 2000 and Links 2001 both suffered from minimalist improvements too, but at least (and especially in the case of PGA 2000) they were decent games in the first place.
On the upside, the lack of change means that we're treated to 11 match types, Internet options and a truly amazing first-person view of the ball as it sails through the air. This camera angle was impressive a year ago, and you have to say that it's still the best camera view of any golf game now. During those rare moments when you plummet out of the sky and straight into the hole, the thrill and excitement is impossible to contain. The little incidental cut-scenes where the camera swoops in for a close-up of your golfer rejoicing after such a shot is also a highly commendable touch.
Novices will be pleased to know there's a choice of four CPU settings, ranging from poor to exemplary, and an excellent qualifying competition where you aim for the PGA Tour itself. Even the sound effects and commentary are good, if occasionally misplaced. That, however, is where PGA Tour 2001 ts goodness ends.
Ultimately, like its predecessor, Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2001 is a very simplistic golf game with plenty of downsides and little lasting appeal. Sure, the novelty of the first-person camera makes for some memorable gameplay moments, but with other vastly superior golf games around, this is probably one you can live without.
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Think you can rip the PGA Tour to shreds as well as Tiger Woods? Well, EA is giving you that chance this fall. Although the game is titled after Tiger, you can also play with the popular PGA Tour chaps and help one of those old codgers qualify then win the tournament itself. The graphics have gotten a minor tune-up, with other improvements consisting of a cleaner interface and more detailed courses.
With a projected release of winter 2oot, Tiger Woods Golf is a long Par 5 from landing on your PS2. But that hasn't stopped EA from releasing a few early shots, and even though they're from embryonic stages of the game's development, they give a good clue of what the finished product might be like. We're told the features and gameplay will be similar to the PS game, but with 3D-rendered players and with more use of analog control.
If only there were a way to build a Tiger Woods game around the awesome Camelot engine from Hot Shots and Mario Golf. I'd play the hell out of that mother. Sadly Tiger's name and image are slapped on yet another slightly above average golf offering. Don't get me wrong--it's not terrible, but it doesn't exactly get the 'ol adrenaline flowing. They toned down the goofier elements from PGA Tour 2000. The exaggerated "homing-missile" ball-spin and rockin' soundtrack are much less prominent--thank God. The icons and meters aren't as cartoony-looking either, it's all business now. But most important, the analog swing has been replaced with a more traditional method. Thankfully they aren't forcing that awkward system down our throats this time. Beyond those changes, the game looks and plays just like PGA Tour 2000. From the way the ball runs on the greens to the sweeping camera angles that follow the tee shots, it's deja vu time. Big surprise right? It shouldn't be, remember just about every sports game released this year (from EA or otherwise) is a simple touch-up of the previous edition. It's safe to say PS2 game development has taken top priority for most companies. As for TW PGA 2001, I'd forgo the purchase. especially if you have any of the previous versions. Redesigning the menus and shot interfaces is hardly enough to justify the cost. Hopefully the PS2 version will impress us more.
Making a realistic yet enjoyable golf game without boring your audience to death is indeed a challenge, one that Stormfront rises to fairly well with this game. It's fun to play for a while, and not exceedingly difficult to get used to. Graphically, well, it's a PS one game, but since it's mostly grass and guys in white shirts, there's not a whole lot to show off anyway. I was unpleasantly surprised by technical glitches, however. The game locked up on me once while I was changing options, and graphics clipped frequently during golfers' swings. For a game with such little action, that's inexcusable Probably not worth buying unless you're a golf nut.
There's almost everything you could possibly want in a golf game here, sans Chevy Chase and mischievous gophers. Tiger sports six different PGA courses, real pro players, tons of game modes, loads of learning aids for beginners, and an endorsement from the best golf player ever. But there's just one problem -- this game just isn*t very fun. I felt like I never had enough control over what was going on. The swing meter is too fast, the ball went farther than the game projected, and what's with the ridiculous menu screen music and Tiger's man-child like quips? EA has their heart in the right place, but needs to make this links game realistic and still fun.
More than seven months ago, Sony unleashed its next-generation gaming monster upon North American shores and into the hands of many a fanatical gamer. Those who were eager and fortunate enough to snatch up a PS2 readily bought into Sony's promise of providing a piece of hardware capable of unrivaled graphics and gameplay realism. Among the early adopters were a multitude of sports gamers drooling in anticipation of what this new gaming marvel would do for their favorite genre. For the most part PS2 sportsters haven't been disappointed, with viable choices of football, baseball, hockey and racing games gracing their system. Golf games, however, have been a different story. Until recently, amateur duffers had to settle for Swing Away Golf, an arcade extravaganza with cartoon characters and exaggerated sound effects. Enter EA Sports and Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2001. Marketed as a golf game for simheads (yup, I'm one of 'em), Tiger roars onto the PS2 with real PGA Tour courses and players. Is it a clean shot to the middle of the fairway, or is it a slice into the sand trap? Grab your clubs; let's hit the links, shall we?
Gameplay, Controls, Interface
Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2001 offers a clean and crisp interface. From the main menu, you can choose the type of game you want to play, change your options or load a previously saved game. Here you can access the standard game modes of Practice, Stroke, Match, Tournament and The Skins Game. No need for me to explain each of these, as the included documentation does a fine job of doing just that. In addition to the conventional modes of play, EA Sports has added two brand new ones: Play Now and EA Sports PGA Tour Challenge. The former casts you in the middle of one of 21 challenging scenarios. For example, play against Tiger, down by a stroke with two holes to go in match play. Or test your skills in the Skins Game against three other golfers. Each scenario is unique and presents a different challenge to the gamer. Complete them all and you'll unlock Tiger's signature red shirt. I had a lot of fun with this mode, finding it hard to resist "just one more try." EA Sports PGA Tour Challenge starts you off as an amateur, where you must compete in several events against top PGA Tour pros. Along the way, you'll earn money and progress through each event, where the stakes and challenges become increasingly higher. If successful, you'll eventually achieve a "Pro" ranking. Once you turn pro, your ultimate goal is to become the coveted EA Sports PGA Tour Challenge Champion. I found both Play Now and The Tour Challenge to be welcome additions, adding an immense amount of challenge and replay value. As a final note -- with the exception of The Tour Challenge -- all modes of play allow you to play as an amateur or pro.
The feature set in the game is a bit sparse. As advertised, the game includes real PGA Tour players and courses. Unfortunately, there are only three courses available: Pebble Beach, Poppy Hills and Spyglass Hill. In comparison, the PC version includes a whopping 17 courses. Worse yet, you can only choose to play as or against a paltry 6 PGA Tour pros, including Tiger himself (ouch!). While playing in a tournament, you'll see the names of other popular pros listed on the leader board -- but other than that, don't expect them to show up in the game any time soon. An even more glaring omission is the absence of a create-a-player option -- since this has become a standard feature of today's sport games, it's downright shocking. Once you choose your golfer, you can edit his name, club selection, level of difficulty and shirt color (yippee!). Practice, Play Now, and Tour Challenge modes feature solo play. Match Play is a two-player affair. All other play modes are for one to four human or CPU-controlled players. Only have one controller? Relax -- mercifully, EA Sports enables you to assign each player to a specific controller. If you and your buddies want to play a round, you'll be able to "share and share alike."
Before striking the ball, you can access an impressive array of features that will aid you in getting the ball where you want it. These include: zooming in on and changing the direction of your target, choosing a different club, calibrating backswing and downswing, and changing your stance in order to apply various levels of loft to the ball. Depending on your location you can change the type of shot from a full swing, to a pitch, chip, punch, blast or pick. These last two features come in especially handy, as you'll find yourself hitting from diverse levels of terrain. For the arcade gamer, there's even an option for applying after touch to the ball as it's in the air (not on my watch, thank you!).
Camera angles during gameplay are not customizable; however, those included serve their purpose quite well, bringing you close to the action at almost all times. Unfortunately, the one exception is a biggie -- for some unexplainable reason, there are times when the camera will decide not to track your tee shot, and it happens a little too frequently for my taste. I found myself hitting the ball out of bounds only to wonder, "What the double bogey did I do?" After each and every shot, you can view an instant replay over and over again to your heart's content. Again, the viewing angles are not customizable, but they are varied enough to please even the most finicky of gamers. Force feedback completes the package, adding a nice touch (pun intended) for the gamer who demands the right "feel" for the game.
Crucial to the success or failure of any golf video game is the control scheme: "It don't mean a thing if it ain't got that swing" (sorry, couldn't resist). The first thing you'll notice is that the swing meter is no longer the familiar three-click semicircle that has been the standard in previous iterations of EA Sports' golf games. Instead you'll find a horizontal bar seated in the bottom left corner of the screen. Hitting the ball becomes an exercise in controlling a right-to-left moving power gauge, while simultaneously applying the desired amount of spin with the use of a crosshair. Press the analog stick down once to start your swing. When the gauge reaches the desired power level, a quick press up on the analog stick stops it from moving. The accuracy of your shot depends on how straight you press the stick -- veer a little left or right and your ball will do the same. While playing as an amateur, the analog stick is somewhat more forgiving than while playing as a pro. You control the crosshair by pressing the directional pad up, down, left, or right to apply topspin, backspin, draw or fade, respectively. Initially the swing mechanics seemed a bit foreign, but after a couple of sessions in the practice mode they became second nature. Once on the green, patience is the key to successful putting. By using several different button/d-pad combinations, you can check out the slope and elevation of the green from several different angles. Again, with a little persistence and practice you'll find that reading the green and making that critical putt become quite manageable. Feeling a bit overwhelmed by the control mechanics? No problem! EA Sports also includes an interesting audio-visual tutorial which provides instruction on the basic swing, advanced swing and putting -- good stuff! While not mandatory, I recommend you give it a look at least once. Alas, for stubborn d-padders like me, would it have been nice if EA Sports had included an option to modify the swing mechanics? (Are you listening, EA?) You betcha! But as it stands, it actually works quite well.
Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2001 features fairly impressive graphics. The courses are colorful, well defined, and accurate to their real-life counterparts. Trees and water hazards are reasonably depicted. It's nothing that you PC gamers haven't seen already, but hey, we're talking console here. Without a doubt, the real stars of the show are the player models themselves -- you'll notice these puppies during the intro and they're the same ones you'll be playing with in the game itself. Never before have you seen golfers quite like this adorn your system -- PC or console. Smooth and fully detailed 3D figures with clean textures and realistic shading are just the beginning. Each player's face is meticulously constructed to look like the real deal, and the results are uncanny. Motion-capture animations bring the players to life with ultra-realistic swing animations. Once on the green, your surrogate golfer will walk around and even squat while negotiating the upcoming putt. Depending on the results, each golfer will react with different gestures and gyrations (both good and bad) in order to convey the appropriate emotion. Yes, even Tiger's signature fist pump -- "It's in the game." All in all, the graphics are quite pleasing. Will you "wow" your friends like you did with Madden? Not likely. But then again, that would be a tall order for any golf game.
Musical selections are standard EA fare; I'm not sure if that's a good thing. I'll let you be the judge. The audio samples do a fine job of immersing you into the game. Several of the sound effects -- from the "ping" of your tee shot to the "plunk" of sinking a putt -- are spot on. Ambient effects include birds chirping and the wind howling. Crowd samples are especially well done -- they'll clap, cheer, ooh and ahh with your every shot. When playing in tournament mode, don't be surprised to hear the roar of the gallery in reaction to one of your opponents playing on a neighboring hole. You'll also hear commentary from the announcer and the players themselves. I particularly enjoyed the mesmerising quality of the announcer's commentary -- for the most part, the comments are appropriate to the situation and never seem to get too repetitive. On the other hand, it wasn't too long before the player comments began to grate on my nerves (if I hear "better get yer shovel" one more time after landing in a sand trap geez!). Regrettably, there isn't an option to turn off the player commentary without also turning off the announcer and other sound effects as well -- I hate that!
Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2001 is a very good golf game. Considering the fact that it's being advertised as a golf simulation, it plays a fairly realistic game of golf. Ball physics and shot outcomes are all very believable. Overall, the computer opponents offer a decent level of challenge. Sure, they'll miss an easy putt every now and then, but they'll never play the same way twice -- and for those of us looking for a reason to go back again and again, this is a very good thing. Sadly, the occasional lack of shot tracking, along with a dearth of customizable features, prevent this game from achieving honors among the upper echelon of sport games. Moreover, with a scarce three courses and six golfers to choose from, I can already hear a lot of gamers clamoring that they somehow feel cheated. While it may not be the visual masterpiece that most PS2 sport gamers have come to expect, the sights and sounds offer a respectable aesthetic package. Most importantly, Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2001 is a lot of fun to play, displaying an addictive quality of its very own -- and for this reviewer, that's what it's all about.