Many people see the yearly releases of sports games as little more than full-priced roster updates or expansions. But even the most cynical person wouldn't expect less content out of a sequel. Well, that's what you get with Tiger Woods PGA Tour 08 for the PlayStation 2. You get the same game modes as last year, but astonishingly fewer courses--all for a $40 price tag. This might be the first "contraction pack" in video game history.
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, Paula Creamer, and a few others bring the roster of pros up to 23. There would be more, but Appleby, Beem, and Leonard are MIA this year. It's a similar story with the courses. There are only 18 of them now, as opposed to 21 last year. 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.
Hopefully you liked last year's game modes, because they are exactly the same this time around; EA didn't bother to add one single thing. Some "new" game, eh? Not a whole lot has changed with the career mode, either. You can play tour events, the Fed Ex Cup, and Tiger challenge. Like in the Xbox 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. The challenges have been shortened a bit, but they become repetitive before it's all said and done. You'll still improve your golfer by earning and disbursing 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, but there is a worthless tattoo editor.
Other than the controls being more sensitive and more demanding of precise timing, 08 plays the same as 07. Neither the three-click swing nor the new draw-and-fade mechanic from the PS3 version made it to the PS2. Putting has gone largely untouched. You can bring up the putt preview by hitting the X button, and then 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 up the putt reasonably well before previewing it. You can skip your opponents' turns with speed play enabled, which is nice.
It shouldn't come as any surprise that Tiger 08 looks the same as Tiger 07, though the frame rate seems to be worse. It frequently hitches in the middle of putts, and also when you move your aiming cursor. 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.
Only a fool would spend $40 on Tiger Woods 08. If you own 07, it would be like buying the same game twice. If you don't own 07, you'd be better off buying that one because it costs half as much and actually has more courses.