This games value doesn't lay in any of the new features. It's replay value comes from the simple round of golf.
This, I imagine, was probably due to it's controversial swing-mechanic tweak. Before this title, Tiger Woods games were a single analogue-stick affair. You simply pulled back, then forward with proper timing and speed. '06 however, introduced a combined impact-point and spin control on the right analogue stick. To myself, this sounded like a good idea.
And I think it still is. But, it does away with the draw/fade control on the left stick, and replaces it with a slightly mysterious exponential control on the right - demonstrated by a little golf-ball icon in the bottom right of the screen. The problem is, you can never really tell how much swerve to add to your swing. It's all kind of guess-work. And, you do end up in the heavy rough more often than you'd like, (noticing the lack of improvement in the rendering while you're there, no doubt).
The courses nevertheless are as interesting and varied as ever. I love the "Greek Isle" course, and the "Central Park" course is a unique addition. They're both great looking and challenging. Again though, there is an overwhelming empty feeling to some of the courses. You feel like the last man on Earth, and the notion that it doesn't matter what you score seems to arise all too often for me. It's almost eerie.
As well as this years upgrades, there are quite a number of downgrades in this EA release. Missing from this installment are the Arcade modes such as "T-I-G-E-R" and "Target". Also, the Golf Shop is disgustingly represented as a bunch of silly sub-menus and average looking mini-shots of all the (admittedly) many items. It really does not get your shopping gland secreting all that much. In fact, I put-off the shopping in this title more than I look forward to it, (unlike the '04 release on XBOX, which was actually fresh).
There's heaps to do in this title, but again, it's all the same activities. The Tour Calender is really that. A poor rendition of (wow!) a virtual calender with all the tournaments lazily represented by crappy icons of the course there to be undertaken. And again, the real-time events are similarly portrayed in this uninspired fashion. Quite lame. Someone at EA took the term "Tour Calender" WAY too literally I think.
Playing as all the old greats through different eras seemed sort of questionable to me to begin with. And yes, I was quite annoyed at having to do this part of the game ("Rivals Mode"). Playing against fictional chimney sweeps and vaudevillian actors is not high up on my list when I pick up a True-golf Sim, as they market it. Oh, and the groundskeeper from "Caddyshack" has been recreated for our pleasure here.
This games value doesn't lay in any of these new features. It's replay value comes from the simple round of golf, on your own. Switch on "Tiger-proofing" (a semi-real time course-altering effect) and playing eighteen at one of the beautiful courses is the best fun to be had. The essence of golf is you versus the course, and this is the best way that I can see to experience that. Rival Mode, Real-time Events, and Tour Mode are really just for leveling up (now done with Exp. points, not money) and are not the best way to see what '06 had to offer.
I quote from the EA website: "Back your challenges with wagers before any shot or round". Well call me nuts, but exactly HOW do you do this. I think they're missing a bit of fine-print there. It needs the footnote: "With two or more human players, when Specials is selected in the Options Menu". And here I was thinking I could hustle money out of the CPU moron players. Damn.