PGA Tour Golf/Tiger Woods PGA Tour Golf
I’ve already had Mario Golf in this list at number 17. Mario Golf followed the great traditions that PGA Tour Golf solidified for me on the Amiga way back in the early nineties. That being the three click swing system.
EA certainly didn’t invent the system, that sort of game has been around for ever, (I remember playing World Class Leaderboard on the spectrum). You could also argue that PGA wasn’t even the best golf game around at the time – Links would probably take that crown from most people.
However PGA Tour Golf is an EA franchise, and even back then EA knew how to do presentation. The opening menu screen put you in the straight in to a nicely drawn pro shop. From there you could choose from the three real life courses, putt on clever 3D wireframe greens, compete against 60 real PGA pros, and tons of other stuff – and that’s the stuff that counts when you’re young and impressionable.
At the time it just seemed very special.
Being an EA product it was then rolled out pretty much every year for it’s incremental updates. Graphics were improved, new courses were added, new real life pros were digitised, courses were added… and so on, but the gampeplay stayed almost identical.
In fact it did start to feel old, with other games coming on to the scene that offered better control methods, better physics – better golf!
Then in 1998 a certain Mr Woods started doing alright for himself in the real world and EA used their substantial pockets to bring him to not only be the face of the franchise, but to also work on the design of the games.
Initially things stayed the same, but with more focus on Tiger himself. When Tiger Woods 2001 came out the PlayStation 2 had arrived on the scene and EA started to tinker with the classic (but stale) 3 three click system. They brought in the first version of their analogue stick system… and it was a bit pants:
…doesn’t even dent the PS2’s graphical capabilities. Worst of all, you must hit the ball with analog controls. Gone is the tension and timing of hitting the X button.
That was from Gamespot. To be fair to EA it was early on in the PS2 lifecycle and it was a quite revolutionary approach – which doesn’t come to often from them.
Fortunately they weren’t too disheartened by the criticism of the system and they went away and refined it – as they do.
I remember getting the demo for Tiger Woods 2002 for my PS2. It was just three holes long, yet I played it consistently for months until it was released. I bought the game on day it came out and then went on to play the living crap out of it.
The analogue swing system had been refined and dubbed ‘TruSwing’ and it was perfect. It really captures the feel of a golf shot, albeit a hell of a lot more forgiving! The atmosphere was great, the graphics were top notch, the gameplay was fantastic.
Once they struck the formula EA stuck with it and the yearly increments rolled in, gradually adding bits along the way and refining the whole experience.
When I bought Xbox 360 on lauch day Tiger 06 was one of the titles I picked up. Despite some very mediocre reviews I never regretted buying it once. Even though it had about a third of the content of the last gen version of the same title and that some of the achievements were just stupid difficult.
I even got nearly £30 when I traded it in.
Obviously I couldn’t resist 07 very long either, and that has proved to be even better, with a very welcome move away from hip-hop bling that was starting to creep in! And from what I’m hearing the 2008 version is going to be very interesting too, especially as they have moved the franchise onto a new dev team…
Basically this series has given me over 15 years of gaming pleasure – you can’t ask for much more.
Bottom Line: Best golf game ever.