The single most obvious characteristic you'll discover within the first five minutes of playing CyberTiger was that if the game had come out before Hot Shots Golf or even before Mario Golf, it might have been more impressive. But because it arrives well after the original fantasy golf train had pulled in, concessions really can't be made for ingenuity, and the game must stand on gameplay, graphics, sound, and value alone.
It stands. But it certainly doesn't do much walking.
There are several play modes found within two main areas: single games and a career mode. The single mode offers more options, including stroke matches, skins, foursomes, tournament, four ball, shoot-out, range, and practice. The career mode lets you work your way up from the junior tour to the amateurs to the pros with one character at a time. (There are seven characters total, with six of them playable in their kid, teenager, and adult incarnations).
The play modes don't really introduce many new concepts to the golf-game arena. The stroke match is exactly that, the tournament mode is exactly that, the skins... and so on. What the game delivers is the concept of power-ups (and not just extending your stroke) and driving-range target practice - both of which are interconnected.
In career mode, you can work your way through a 360-degree driving range (which is actually functional in only about 180 degrees), where you line up shots to hit the targets placed around the course. If you hit them, you'll earn power-ups such as a gumball, which prevents your ball from bouncing or rolling once it hits the ground; a power ball, which travels twice as far as the regular ball: an eyeball, which travels in a perfectly straight line; a superball, which, as the name implies, has an extraordinary bounce; and a few others. These items add to the gameplay in the same way the power-ups in Crave's Milo's Astro Lanes on the N64 added to that title's gameplay - they didn't save the game, but they made a somewhat dull or average experience a little better.The CyberTiger graphics have clearly attempted to ape the Mario Golf/Hot Shots Golf style, with less originality, and, frankly, less of the beauty. The interface is interesting - it includes all the basic features you need in a video golf game - whether it be a golf sim or a fantasy golf game. You have a swing meter, a distance indicator, terrain-height indicators, club choice, and so forth. Yet what seems to have happened in CyberTiger is that in arranging and rearranging these features on the screen to give the game an identity apart from the other games out there, the intuitive interface has been lost. Of course, if you play a lot of golf games, you'll figure it out pretty quickly, but the novice may find himself abuzz in all the numbers and meters that seem poorly placed, as compared to those in other fantasy golf titles. And novices are, after all, whom these games are trying to appeal to, right?
The audio is another CyberTiger breakdown. It's neither catchy nor interesting, but rather bland and nondescript. The sounds are cut off prematurely and are mostly inaudible, if you care to hear what's being said in the first place. And if Mario Golf could handle audio on the N64....
CyberTiger does show in its controls. The stroke meter is responsive, and the ability to control the ball's spin in midair is a nice benefit. The multiplayer adds to what is essentially a pretty prosaic experience, although it's not enough to pull the overall score higher.
Perhaps EA can drag some more excitement into the game for the N64 version of the game, which is expected later this year. There's just something to be said for atmosphere in golf games. If you're playing a sim, well, you expect it to feel like a real golf course. If you're playing fantasy golf, it should feel more playful... less traditional. CyberTiger seems to be lost somewhere in between, not sure of what it wants to be. It's not Tiger Woods '99, and it's certainly not Hot Shots, so if you fall somewhere in between the two, you might like the game. Otherwise, hold out for Hot Shots Golf 2 or Tiger Woods 2000.