E3 06: Tiger Woods PS3 Impressions

We stare into the eyes of the Tiger, as we check out EA Sports' next-gen golf display from the Sony E3 press conference.

LOS ANGELES--OK, so perhaps EA Sports' demo of Tiger Woods PGA Tour for the PlayStation 3 didn't clue us into much in the way of how the upcoming golf game will play, but it was still pretty cool. What amounted to a tech demo for EA Sports' new character-modeling technology was still an impressive display, not only for EA's new technology, but also for the incredible graphical prowess of the PlayStation 3.

Here's what was shown off during the brief demo: Tiger Woods' face and upper body. And really, that's about it. However, as the on-stage presenter delved a bit deeper into the universal motion-capture technology (as EA has dubbed it), it became clear that there was more going on here than just an accurate rendering of Tiger's caramel skin tone. Within a few seconds of the demo, Tiger let loose with his trademark gleaming smile, controlled by the presenter. As the EA rep explained, the demo was running in real time, and all of the facial expressions--vague smirks, disappointed frowns (all accompanied with eerily authentic moving eyes)--conveyed a huge range of emotions, most of which Tiger has probably experienced on the golf course at one time or another.

While Tiger's facial animations were certainly the highlight of the tech demo, they weren't all there was to be wowed by. The depth and fidelity of the entire virtual Tiger model was something to behold--from the amazingly subtle lighting effects of his facial features to the complex shadows and ripples in his trademark red golf shirt. Tiger wasn't silent either, he chimed in with a few comments of his own during the demo--"Oh sweet!" "That's what I'm talking about!" and "Finally!" being just a few examples--all accompanied by appropriate emotional expressions from exasperated frustration to serious contemplation. Perhaps the next challenge for the Tiger PS3 team should be accurately modeling John Daly's pained expression while (allegedly) losing $50 to $60 million on the blackjack tables.

Other than what was shown at the press conference, we know zero about Tiger Woods' gameplay, but we're hoping we see plenty of Tiger's fellow PGA pros and a boatload of real-life courses for them to play on. Rest assured we'll be bringing you more on the next iteration of the Tiger series as soon as E3 begins.

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