It's the number 1 golf franchise in the world and on pretty much every modern gaming system. But just because it's on every system does not necessarily equate to greatness.
Tiger Woods DS is an average game. Wanting to use the touch pad to the fullest, EA developers created something that is both interesting and frustrating.
As is the norm, players can play as several 'real'? golfers or create a completely new one. You play through the various golf courses and take on famous players of the PGA in order to unlock new courses or rewards, etc. Now where things get a bit 'touchy'? is in the actual swing part of the golfing. Using the top screen you can get a feel of the hole and look at where you want to hit your ball. Taking into account the information the game provides (wind speed, ball location) players then must use the touch pad to rub the boost meter. As you rub it, the meter begins to glow with power, then as quickly as possible, in order to not waste any of your boost, you move your stylus over to swing bar. The swing bar starts at the top of the screen and goes down, bending to the left and then back up again, as if to copy the reverse arc of a real golf swing. At the end of the arc, there are several arrows flaying off in all sorts of directions. These arrows represent your slice and hook (bending one way or the other), of course if you slide it straight up the line, then you may just hit the ball straight. Problem is that it is a very hard thing to do (so I guess it is like real golf).
The biggest blunder in the game is the exclusion of any sort of driving range or practice mode. Its sink or swim and for the most part you can consider yourself sunk as you will reach maximum strokes on more then one occasion, firmly planting you in last place. The only work around I have come up with is to create a player that I care nothing about and playing as him until I become fairly consistent in my drives. Then I created a second player using what I learned from the first. If this sounds fairly remedial it is because it is.
The other problem is the poor putting engine they implemented in the game. It's so bad the programmers added a Pocket Caddy ? function to assist you. There is no easy way to read your putts with the way the game sets up the greens you can only guess on where to hit it, since there is no power meter, your short game will easily ruin your score. Trust me when I say that your caddy would be earning more then the 10% PGA caddies are supposed to earn for the calls he is making.
The game is in fairly high detailed 3D, almost impossibility in hand held games, flowing hills and good line of sight make the game appear better then it really is. Golfers look good with a nice use of shading and high pixel count and the top down screen has clean lines and a genuine 'EA' feel to it.
The audio is more or less 'Par'? for the course. Nothing spectacular but nothing bad either. Ample would be a good way of describing it. But then, how much audio does a golf game really need.
The game has a rushed feel to it. I know it was a system launch title and that they probably came in delivering an end product they weren't the most proud about. But it will scratch the itch of any golf game fan with its better then average graphics and options. Too bad they couldn't clean up the putting engine and put some more thought into the touch pad sensitivity.