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Tiger Woods 2004

Developer: EA Sports | Publisher: Electronic Arts
Players: 1 to 4 Player Game | Release Date: 09/22/03 | Genre: Sports

Why is golf a four letter word? I couldn't tell you. But I can tell you that the newest installment of EA Sports top selling golf franchise is not only good, it's Grrreat! In fact, this game just might be videolicious enough to get some respect in Game of the Year voting.

A little background, shall we: In the late 90's, some kid with a star-powered nickname strolls onto the PGA Tour and proceeds to tear up the field on course after course each week. Electronic Arts wisely decides to make a golf game and put this Kid on the cover. Since then, both the kid and the video game have been refining their skills and forcing the competition to play catch up.

Now it is late in 2003. The latest version of EA's Tiger Woods is jam-packed with so many goodies, no fan of the franchise could possibly pass it up. Grade A select features abound in this remarkable title. There's so much going on inside this kitty, you can rest assured I'll leave some things out in this review.

Let's begin with the Gameface. Sounds cheezy, I know. And in most games, that would be the case. But in Tiger Woods, players have the option to create a golfer that is guaranteed to be unique. We can alter the usuals: Hair style, body type, facial hair, etc. But Tiger offers us so much more. How about chin size, cheek bones, lip size, nose length, and more. Want to play a caveman looking golfer with a unibrow? Knock yourself out. No offense to cavemen intended here people. Heck if you're bored enough, the Gameface might just be more fun than Halo. Well, maybe not. But you get the picture. It is a great feature that truly enhances the uniqueness of this wonderful game.

Now we've all watched those multi-kazillion dollar tournaments and wondered what it must be like to cash a check the size of a Hyundai. But what is it really like to play on the Tour every week? Well friends, Tiger can help you find out. You can play through an entire season of four-rounders, competing for money, sponsorships, and prestige. In fact, career mode lets you play through season after season of mindless golf tourneys you've probably never heard of. Again, this is a nice touch and makes the game that much better in the long run.

I could spend several more paragraphs on all the features in this game, but why bother? You can take my word for it that they're plentiful and each enhances the fun factor of the game. You can take on various scenarios, upgrade your equipment and apparel, sign with various sponsors, play arcade style rounds, hook up with a friend or two to play some good old fashioned stroke/match/skins games. And I couldn't end the list without a quick mention of the real time events. These actually happen on specific days of the month in the real world. So if you happen to be celebrating a real holiday, you can pop in the game and try to unlock something useful by completing the challenge or event.

Graphically, Tiger Woods 2004 is all I could expect from a console game. The landscapes look great, particularly the exotic ones. I wouldn't say it looks like you're really therebut it's beautiful nonetheless. Oceans, mountains, and waterfalls line many of the courses and they all look good enough to satisfy my graphics urge. The game doesn't support High Definition settings, though, which is a shame. Xbox can support it people, lets start putting it in the games.

But what would all these features and graphics be without solid gameplay? Well, pretty worthless for the average gamer. Don't worry, though, gameplay is the precise reason this game should reach out and touch broader audiences. If you play golf on Xbox, you've no doubt become accustomed to the pull back then push forward on the thumbstick approach to swinging the club. It is very easy to get used to if you're a newbie, and a lot more forgiving than previous incarnations of the franchise. Selecting clubs and shot types are a breeze, as is monitoring distance and wind speed. Once you get a good feel for the game, you should be able to complete an entire eighteen holes in a half-hour or so. I figure if you can't comprehend the controls for Tiger Woods, you should stick to Tetris Worlds or something.

Now, I'll touch upon what I perceive as the negative points of the game. I couldn't find many flaws, but they are there. The first: I found that getting started was almost too easy. I was chipping in shots off the fringe and draining 50 foot putts in my first tourney. Granted I've played previous versions of the game, but shooting a 56 in my first tournament seemed pretty ridiculous. Another downer was the lack of Hi Def support, which I already mentioned. Lastly, but certainly the big one, NO XBOX LIVE SUPPORT. I don't know what Microsoft and EA have against one another, but not supporting Xbox Live in a game this good is like only making half a game. Give us Live support! (Editor's Note: This is due to the online deal EA and Sony made with each other)

As I wrap up this review, I wonder how I can glow so much about this outstanding title, yet still disrespect it with a B+. I mean, this is a great game by any standard, yet somehow my conscience won't allow me give it an A. It's not like I've seen a recent Xbox game that I can say whips Tiger Woods hands down, quite the contrary in fact. No, my sole reason for slighting Electronic Arts on this one has to do with the fact that I feel the company is slighting us consumers. We all know Xbox Live is a fantastic addition to most games, and I am certain this could easily have been one of those games. The internet hath no fury like a gamer scorned. Tiger, you'll take your B+ and like it.

By Kevin Watson - 10/20/03
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Screenshots for Tiger Woods 2004

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