Tiger Woods 07 for the Wii made a good first impression. Now, just six months later, the series is back for another go in the form of Tiger Woods PGA Tour 08. Once again, it's a good game, but like you'd expect from a sequel that follows its predecessor by just six months, it's only a slight improvement over Tiger 07.
Tiger 08 has a few new game modes, though many of them have appeared on other consoles and are only "new" for the Wii. Traditional games include: stroke play, match play, bloodsome, greensome, skins, stableford, alternate, best ball, and four-ball. There are five minigames: miniputt, target, T-I-G-E-R, capture, and target2target. Miniputt is nothing more than minigolf, but it's kind of fun, even if the putting grid is completely worthless on the over-the-top greens. Rounding out the game modes are five arcade games: elimination mode, battle golf, one-ball, team one-ball, and skills 18. Elimination is the only one of these that will be new to veteran Tiger Woods players. Here, you create a team of as many as eight players, which are eliminated one at a time with every hole lost. It's good that so many of Tiger 08's game modes are geared toward multiplayer because unlike EA's other recent sports game, Madden 08, Tiger Woods 08 doesn't have online play.
There are a healthy number of golfers and courses in the game, but it's disappointing that much of the new content came at the expense of old content. Camilo Villegas, Morgan Pressel, Ian Poulter, Paula Creamer, and a few others bring the roster of pros up to 23. It would be 26, but Appleby, Beem, Leonard, and Campbell are MIA this year. It's a similar story with the courses. There are still 18 of them, but many of the fantasy courses have been replaced with real locations, such as Cog Hill, TPC Boston, Westchester, Firestone, Doral, TPC Scottsdale, and East Lake. It's great to have so many real-world courses, but it's a shame they couldn't have been added to what was already there.
Not a whole lot has changed with the career mode. You can play tour events, the Fed Ex Cup, and Tiger challenge. Like in the 360 and PlayStation 3 versions, the Tiger challenge is arranged in a honeycomb pattern, which gives you a bit of freedom to choose the next challenge. Unlike those versions, the challenges haven't been shortened significantly and get old far too quickly if you're a series veteran. You'll still improve your golfer by earning and dispersing attributes, as well as purchasing new equipment or clothing in the pro shop. As usual, the create-a-character feature is limited only by your imagination. The photo face mode that lets you import a picture of yourself on the PS3 and 360 is nowhere to be found.
Very few changes have been made to how the game plays; however, nearly every change makes the game play better. You can play the game in several ways; standing up, you press B and then swing the remote like a golf club, twisting it to draw or fade your shot; sitting down, you press B as you flick the remote in any direction; and in a more traditional fashion, you use the analog stick on the Nunchuk to swing. The game's easiest with the analog stick, but it's most enjoyable using the motion controls, which are quite forgiving, though it's still too difficult to hit a specific power level less than 100 percent. Putting uses the same basic mechanic as a normal swing, but in Tiger 08, there's a new way of lining up your putt. When you hit the minus button, you can putt the ball to see where it's going to go, but the stroke doesn't count. You're given a limited amount of time for the entire round in which you can preview your shots, but unless you use it on every single putt, you'll have enough for most of the difficult ones. This is an interesting way of making putting less frustrating; however, it makes it a bit too easy, especially if you've lined the putt up reasonably well before previewing it. The pace of play is nice and fast thanks to EA finally letting you skip the CPU's turn by pressing the A button. There's also a new confidence meter that supposedly makes you play better if you're already playing well, but it doesn't have any noticeable effect on the gameplay.
It shouldn't come as any surprise that Tiger 08 looks the same as Tiger 07. There's not a whole lot of detail in the textures, and there's a hefty amount of aliasing. But the graphics certainly aren't terrible, and they don't get in the way of the gameplay. The professional golfers look reasonably like their real-life counterparts, but the fictitious golfers look the best thanks to their unique animations and design. Like every other Tiger Woods game in the past few years, the audio is passable but could stand for some new commentary.
There's no question that Tiger Woods 08 is better than Tiger Woods 07. Although the controls aren't perfect, they are better, and there's more to do. Unfortunately, with only six months separating the two games, that's about the extent of the improvements. If you don't own Tiger 07 and are looking for a golf game, you'll want to pick up Tiger 08. But if you already own 07, you might want to hold off on this one and wait for next year.