Digital Bridges' new relationship with Electronic Arts has been the talk of the mobile game industry for months now. EA was once content to farm out its top sports franchises to mobile publishers and watch the profits roll in. Under the new terms, however, the world's largest games publisher is sitting in the driver's seat in both publishing and development, with Digital Bridges riding shotgun for distribution. The upcoming Tiger Woods 2005 is one of the first games to come out of the new arrangement, along with the superlative FIFA 2005. Judging from the beta version we saw at CTIA, Tiger's in fine fettle this time around.
Tiger Woods 2005 is a much-needed incremental update to Tiger Woods 2004, which suffered from some serious gameplay problems. Although the core gameplay is very much the same--select your club, aim your shot, and carefully eyeball the swing meter--the Tiger team has added a ton of peripheral improvements to the game and tuned its graphical performance. Most importantly, the game's engine no longer lags or stutters when you're trying to stop the shot meter at the right place, meaning that this version of Tiger is already a lot more playable than the last one.
In addition, Tiger Woods 2005 packs a number of new features that are designed to help mobile duffers get more out of their mobile golf dollar. For one thing, Iomo's borrowed a bit from its latest UK game, Golf Club, and introduced the concept of earning money on the greens. You can put this cash toward unlocking new courses and boosting your golfer's skills--and you're not likely to run out of courses, either, since the game will feature fresh locations for download. Also, the new Tiger will incorporate the profiles of several legendary golfers, meaning that you'll be able to play a round against the likes of Ben Hogan and Jack Nicklaus. Finally, Tiger Woods 2005 will feature a host of connected features, including leaderboards, news, and even tournaments based on speed and high scores.
From what we've seen, Tiger Woods 2005's impressive roster of improvements may be enough to boost the game to the top of the mobile golf heap. We'll find out for sure when the game goes live toward the end of November. We'll bring you more details on the game as we receive them.