Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2004 Impressions

We get an up-close look at the PC version of the next Tiger Woods golf game from EA Sports.

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We recently had an opportunity to take a close look at Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2004 for the PC. The PC version of the upcoming game will feature enough content to fill three full CDs, including 18 different golf courses, 16 of which will be licensed versions of real-world courses. The new game will also feature 16 licensed professional golfers--15 from the men's PGA circuit (including Tiger himself), and a female golfer from the LPGA. You can also expect to see full sponsorship of clothing and golfing equipment from big-name companies such as Adidas, Titleist, and Callaway.

According to assistant producer Jim Boland, EA Sports hopes to improve upon the series' single-player modes by not only improving the way you customize your golfer's appearance, but by also allowing you to play through career and tournament modes to increase your custom golfer's skill and unlock hidden courses and items by defeating "boss" opponents, like in a more-traditional action game.

The create-a-golfer mode will let you create a female or male golfer (who is right-handed by default, but can also be left-handed if you prefer) and customize a great many details of his or her appearance, including individual facial features, height, build, tattoos, and clothing. You'll also be able to improve your golfer's skill in one of five general areas: power, long strokes, short strokes, recovery, and putting. In the career and training modes, you'll be able to gradually improve your golfer's skill levels, as well as add new types of golf strokes to his or her repertoire by completing each of the applicable training courses--for instance, if you can complete a chipping exercise at the training range, your golfer may unlock a new chip shot for use on the course. In the career mode, you'll begin as a virtual nobody, and you'll be required to work your way through the tournament circuit by winning prize money and sponsorships from major companies. Winning matches will let your golfer unlock new training courses and new tournaments in the game's world tour mode.

The world tour mode will consist entirely of tournament matches and arcade-style challenges. For instance, a pro golfer may challenge you to a putting match, or some other type of competition that emphasizes a single skill. You'll also be able to enter a "boss match" with a rival pro, and defeating your opponent in this type of match will unlock the course that pro is "defending" for regular play.

Like its predecessor, Tiger Woods 2004 seems to be a very sharp-looking game that features detailed outdoor environments. As we saw, the game will feature multiple weather effects, such as cloudy weather, rain, and variable wind (which can affect ball direction), as well as seasonal effects on various courses that may cause leaves to fall from trees. The Pebble Beach course looked particularly sharp, especially on legs of the course near the beach itself, where the water effects looked as good as ever. Also looking good was the game's manual mouse-swing option, which seems to operate in more or less the same way as it did in last year's game. Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2004 is scheduled for release this October.

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