Is there anything better than putting your feet up on a lazy rainy Sunday afternoon and discovering that all there is on the old boob-tube is golf? Of course there is, pretty much everything you can think of. Yet golfing games are some of the most popular in the sporting genre across all platforms. Who is at the top of this plaid pants wearing heap? Why! It’s our good friend Tiger Woods. Far from being as endangered as his name sake, Tiger Woods games are the firm favourites in golfing titles to date. The latest instalment in the Tiger Woods series is the aptly named “Tiger Woods PGA Tour” released for the Sony PSP.
If put under the microscope what we discover is that Tiger Woods PGA Tour is in fact just a miniaturised version of Tiger Woods 2004 with hints of 2005 thrown into the mix. What astounds me is that they managed to fit a home console game into a portable gaming package. Popular features from previous titles make a return in the handheld version such as the “game face” editor. There are 36 different physical traits to play around with giving you the ability to create a truly unique profile to whack the ball with. If you fiddle with it long enough you can come up with some rather interesting characters, my guy ended up looking a lot like Pop-Eye.
The controls for this game are transferred straight form the console version and this is where the game begins to falter. The use of the analog stick for swing control, though accurate on the console versions, becomes feeble as your thumbs fumble with the PSP’s ridiculous nubbin. Any slight deviance to the left or right mid swing will have you hooking or slicing like a drunk 68 year old on seniors open day. All the other controls are fairly standard and once you acclimatise to the fiendish stick any Tiger Woods veteran should have no problem birdying a par 4.
Tiger Woods PGA Tour has all the different modes of play that have been available in the past. ‘Quick Play’ mode is first on the list and lets you get in a speedy round for those golfers on the go. ‘Legend Tour’ is next. This is where you’ll be spending most of your time as you use your custom golfer to go head to head in tournament rounds to earn the big cash, gain scholarships and make your way up the rankings. Finally there are the ‘Legend Challenges’. This mode is designed to put you through your paces and test how skilful you are at putting small white balls into holes with flags in them.
The most distinguishing feature of Tiger Woods Pro Tour is the quality of the graphics. The courses look amazing whether you’re stuck in a bunker or enjoying one of those Happy Gilmore-esque flights up the fairway. Detail was added to the background of the courses as well as the golfers themselves, though they have more corners than your average Joe. These amazing graphics come with a price. Tiger Woods Pro Tour comes with some of the longest loading times I have ever experienced. You could in fact begin loading a game, go and play a real game of golf, make a cup of tea and then reorganises your stamp collection before it even starts up. This may be a slight hyperbole as not everyone has a stamp collection.
The sound is mostly of a high calibre. The calming backing track will help sooth a frustrated putter and the commentators are worth a listen as they range from helpful insight to straight out mockery of your golfing style. Where the sound goes down hill is when you hear the crowd noises, which are not dissimilar to what a washing machine filled with people might sound like.
All in all, if you’re a Tiger Woods fan you’ll love this game. It has all the best qualities of the old Tiger Woods titles in the convenience of a handheld machine. One final golfing tip: If while waiting for your game to load you go insane and throw your PSP across the room, remember to yell “FOUR” to warn those in front of the oncoming collision.