Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2004 is quite probably the most entertaining and enjoyable golf game ever released.
In the mid- and late-1990s, PC golfers had a half-dozen top-shelf simulations from which to choose. But when the tech market and the economy took a tumble, at the turn of the decade, so did computer golf. Today, there are just two serious contenders: Microsoft's Links and EA Sports' Tiger Woods. Fortunately, they're both exceptionally good. In fact, the latest version of the Tiger series, Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2004, is quite probably the most entertaining and enjoyable golf game ever released. Though not quite as clinical as Links, it builds upon last year's impressive edition in several key areas and adds enticing new perks, such as an improved career mode and fully customizable golfers. For pure on-course excitement and graphical wizardry, Tiger Woods 2004 will be awfully hard to beat.
Let's look at the raw numbers, which, for this year's iteration, are extraordinary. For starters, the game offers an amazing 18 courses, including veteran venues Bay Hill Club & Lodge, Colonial Country Club, Pebble Beach Golf Links, Poppy Hills Golf Course, Prince Course at Princeville, Royal Birkdale Golf Club, Sahalee Country Club, Spyglass Hill Golf Course, St. Andrews Golf Links, TPC at Sawgrass, and TCP of Scottsdale. New for 2004 are Couer D'Alene and its floating green, the intimidating Bethpage Black Course, Hawaii's gorgeous Kapalua Plantation Course, Pinehurst No. 2, Virginia's The Highlands, and TCP at Avenel. And if 17 real-life locales aren't enough for you, you can always engage in a little fantasy. Born from the minds of the programmers at developer Headgate Studios, and existing only in the digital world, The Predator is a stunning and treacherous imaginary course set in the wild undergrowth of the South American rain forest.
Once you've determined your setting, you'll want to decide on your virtual persona. Tiger Woods 2004 gives you plenty of decisions here as well, offering no less than 14 touring pros, including the enigmatic and talented Vijay Singh, the long-hitting John Daly, and, of course, Tiger himself. That the only LPGA personality to make the grade is the young and attractive, but unproven, Natalie Gulbis is interesting, to say the least.
Yet predesigned players are just part of the story. For Tiger Woods 2004, Headgate has devised a golfer creation facility that's second to none. Dubbed "game face," this nifty system allows you to construct the entire physical makeup of your custom golfer, piece by piece. You'll start with the head, where you'll decide on such minute details as eye shape, facial hair color, chin size, and eyebrow placement. Moving on to the body, you'll choose whether you're a muscle-bound oaf, a skinny waif, or something in between. You'll attire your computerized image and even add accessories, like wristbands and eyewear. And you'll make your adjustments graphically, morphing your alter ego via a comprehensive series of sliders and buttons. To increase the size of his forearms, for example, you'll move the forearm slider to the right while witnessing his incredible growth spurt in real time.
Though some will undoubtedly use the game face feature to concoct hideous creatures that have no place on a golf course, others will use it in the way it was intended--to duplicate their own physical appearances. The fact is that Tiger Woods 2004 is the first golf game to allow you to re-generate yourself digitally, and the results can be quite remarkable.
Like last year, Tiger Woods delivers an impressive roster of golfing opportunities. For many people, the key to the game will undoubtedly be its five levels of difficulty. In rookie mode, virtually anyone--even ultra-newbies--can get through a round of golf without too much shame or grief. At the intermediate level, those little hooks, slices, and incorrect reads that scarcely affected your shots in rookie mode will really begin to take their toll. At the top--expert level--any deviation from perfection will show itself. Here, all forgiveness is out the window. You're compelled to delve into the game's finer points and make use of your entire arsenal of shot-making weapons if you ever hope to stand a chance of a decent showing.
As usual, Headgate offers both two- and three-click traditional swings and a mouse-motion variant. It is the latter of these, the TrueSwing (pioneered by Headgate in Sierra's gone-but-not-forgotten PGA Championship), that is the real star of the show. Enacted by your golfer in real time, and duplicating the same sort of motion you'd use when swinging a real club, TrueSwing has come of age and is now so perfectly programmed that it must be considered the preferred method for serious golfers.
In Headgate's version of the mouse-motion swing, the tempo and pace of your entire backward and forward movement has an impact on the final result. So too does the point at which you stop the mouse, the length of the movement, and the amount of side-to-side deviation. You can even opt to perform horizontal side-to-side TrueSwings if your desk is too crowded to allow vertical up-and-down mouse movements. After your shot, the game delivers painstaking analysis of each factor of your swing, thus allowing you to work on perfecting the speed of your backswing, the general tempo, and/or the side-to-side variances.
When you're finally ready to take to the links, Tiger Woods 2004 really begins to show its stuff. Perhaps you'll open with a few minutes of practice on a putting green, driving range, or chipping area. Maybe you need to perfect a given hole on a given course. No matter what you want to do or where you need to do it, the game will oblige.
Newcomers will undoubtedly want to engage in a little competition. They may do so by selecting a casual round and then choosing their favorite game type. Tiger Woods 2004 offers more than a dozen game options and scoring variants, including skins, scramble, shootout, Stableford, and the nifty skills competition.
For all the trappings of a televised PGA event, tournament is the way to go. Here, you'll battle against a full roster of competitors. Those fairways and greens that seemed a little lonely in the casual rounds are now packed with cheering (and groaning) spectators. In fact, the fully 3D fans of this year's edition are easily the most convincing of any golf game to date. Add the new announcing tandem of real-world broadcasting icons Gary McCord and David Feherty, who trade banter, offer advice, and generally deliver far more accurate and believable commentary than last year's Feherty-Bill Macatee duo, and the ambience becomes very convincing indeed.
Advanced players will want to take the big step beyond single tournament play, entering a full season of events. Three seasons are offered by default, but you can add events, alter the rules, and generally customize the structure to suit your preferences. However, if you really want to see all that Tiger offers, you'll want to enter the game's career mode.
- Player Reviews: 11
- Game Universe:
- CyberTiger (N64, PS, GBC),
- Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2000 (PC, PS),
- Tiger Woods PGA Tour Golf (PS, PC, PS2),
- Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2004 (GBA, GC, PS2, XBOX, PC, NGE, MOBILE),
- Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2002 (PS2, PC),
- Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2003 (PS2, GC, PC, XBOX, MAC),
- Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2005 (PS2, GC, XBOX, PC, DS, MOBILE, MAC),
- Tiger Woods PGA Tour (PSP),
- Tiger Woods PGA Tour 06 (PC, MOBILE, X360, XBOX, PS2, PSP, GC),
- Tiger Woods PGA Tour 07 (PS2, WII, PSP, X360, XBOX, PC, PS3)
- Offline Modes:
- Online Modes:
- Number of Players: