The first Tiger Woods game for the Wii was perfectly enjoyable representation of golf that fully embraced the possibilities of the Wiimote setup. The impact was lessened slightly by the fact that Wii Sports contains a simulation of golf that is as good, but that hasn’t stopped EA rolling out the yearly sequel just over six months after the original. Needless to say, those of you that purchased the ’07 version must be feeling pretty cheesed off at the moment.
The updated roster of professional golfers serves as a good example of how half-hearted this update is. Instead of adding new players, EA has actually removed some of the ones that featured in the ’07 version, so you’re not actually getting more for your money. One can only assume some kind of licensing skulduggery is to blame, but it’s pretty disappointing and is rather like purchasing this year’s FIFA only to discover that your favourite team has been removed and replaced with some underachieving, low division outfit.
A similar change has swept through the course list. Tiger Woods 07 contained several fantasy courses, which were fun despite their lack of authenticity. These courses have now been removed – presumably in an effort to make the game more faithful to real life – and replaced with real-world locations. Golf fanatics will no doubt be over the moon with this, but to those of us that aren’t fans will be none the wiser. Surely there’s enough space on a Wii disc to have included the fictional courses as well? Clearly, EA thinks otherwise.
Putting these initial disappointments aside, the new game modes are encouraging. EA - like so many other companies - has clearly come to the conclusion that the Wii is a social console and has therefore tailored their output to reflect this. Tiger Woods 08 is no exception, and is packed to the rafters with multiplayer mini games – perfect ‘after pub’ entertainment. Some of these games don’t really warrant extended play but they’re fun enough to represent a mild diversion from the main body of the game.
As far as solo play is concerned, things are pretty much the same as they were last year. The create-a-golfer mode allows you to fashion a virtual representation of yourself – complete with silly golfing trousers if you so wish – and the Career mode provides the opportunity to take said golfer on the PGA Tour, earning cash (which can be spent on new outfits and equiptment), renown and valuable experience along the way.
The controls lack the ‘wow’ factor they had in the ’07 edition, but things are still solid. The game translates your swings and movements superbly, and the extra level of depth means Tiger Woods 08 shades the aforementioned Wii Sports golf. Several control methods are available (including the rather boring Nunchuk analogue stick swing system) but the standard mode is easily the most immersive and enjoyable of the lot.
Given the graphical modesty of the ’07 instalment it would be rash to expect this update to have come on leaps and bounds. The important thing is that everything looks decent, with nicely rendered golfers and realistic animation. The courses themselves can often get a bit ugly, but the frame rate is fairly solid and although it wouldn’t push the GameCube when it comes to visual splendour, there’s little to really complain about in this regard.
Given the short time between the two versions, it’s fairly obvious that sweeping changes are not really on the agenda. Tiger Woods 08 doesn’t really introduce any amazingly innovative features aside from a few token game modes; the visuals, controls and overall game design are all very similar to last year’s offering.
EA’s policy of updating their sports titles every year has been called into question before, and in the case of Tiger Woods 08 the company has clearly gotten ahead of itself. Another six months would have resulted in a fresher experience, as anyone who owns the ’07 edition will most likely feel short-changed by what’s on offer here. Still, if you’ve yet to purchase a golf game for the Wii and are dissatisfied with the light-hearted Wii Golf and Super Swing Golf Pangya, then this update is undoubtedly your best bet.