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December 8, 2002
Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2003 - Review
Release Date Distributor Developer Players Rating Difficulty
29/11/2002EA SportsEA Sports1-4GMedium
Save Size Sound Format Vibration 60Hz Mode 50Hz Border Widescreen
147KBDolby Surround?YesNoSmallNo

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Tiger Woods himself stars.
Some things about golf. As Kelly Bundy states "golf spelt backwards is flog" and as a radio ad states "golf is the sport where your mates laugh when your balls get wet". What does that have to do with this review. Well not much other then it's a golf game. Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2003 is actually the third version of this franchise on the Playstation 2 within the last 19 months with each game improving over the previous one in considerable ways. This game continues the trend, and is far superior then Tiger Woods USA Tour 2002 which I never reviewed, but did play considerably.

This golf game is interesting in that it border part way between a true simulation and an arcade game. The ball physics in the air and on the ground, club choices, terrain types, and overall feel is very simulation styled. On the other hand the putting, lack of miss-shots, the fantasy players and courses and the balls tendency on occasion to be "drawn" to the hole still give it an arcade touch. It's a fine line that this game seems to handle very well. When I reviewed Tiger Woods USA Tour 2001 some 18 months ago my biggest complaint was a lack of courses. That game only offered three course to play on - this game has a massive 12 courses including Pebble Beach Golf Links, Tournament Players Club at Sawgrass, The Royal Birkdale, Princeville, Torrey Pines, Poppy Hills, Spyglass Hill, and Tournament Players Club at Scottsdale as well as three fantasy courses made specifically for this game. The game also includes a mix or real-life players, including Tiger Woods of course, as well as 12 original characters. These can be unlocked after playing the game.

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Gorgeous St Andrews course.
When it comes to game modes Tiger Woods USA Tour 2002 has them all. The main game comes in the form of the Tiger Challenge. This is a series of events, mostly against other golfers, which you must won to progress. If you win a match you not only unlock that player, but also that course if new as well as earning a heap of cash which can be spent to improve the stats on your player including power, spin, approach and even luck among others. The other game modes include the Speed Golf which sees you running around the courses to complete each hole as quickly as possible, and before the other players while the Skill Zone is used to hone your skills in a series of tests.

Not having played the previous Tiger Woods golf game (although I think this new control system started with this game) I was a little taken aback at first with the new control scheme. Gone are the meters, pressing buttons at specific moments in time and in comes complete swing control with the left analogue stick. After selecting your club, the shot type, and the aim of your shot you simply press down on the analogue stick as far as how much power is required and then press up to swing the club forward. It takes a little to get used to, but when you do you realise that this control method is a lot more natural, and definitely more rewarding. My only gripe, which is detailed below, is the way in which spin is place on the ball - only after it is hit in the air.

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Hmmm nice... shot that is.
There are a couple two semi-major issues I have with title. The first is the putting on the greens. Unlike almost every other golf game since the inception of computer based golf games you have had a way (usually a grid) on the green to see the slopes and inclines to know where to an how hard to hit the ball. Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2003 has none of this and instead makes you rely on the caddy telling you to hit the ball a distance to the left and right and short of long of the hole. This comes with two further problems. The first is that it's almost impossible to tell how far away from the hole you are actually aiming, and at other times he isn't even correct.

The second disappointment with the title is the spinning of the ball. This is done after the gold swing and during the flight of the ball, adding a arcade style to the title. It wouldn't be so bad if you couldn't change the direction of the spin as many times as desired. Strangely there is no option in the game to determine the spin prior to the shot for a more simulation styled gameplay while turning off the in-flight spin removes all forms of spin on the ball. Another problem with the game is that while you can place spin on the ball while in the air the game often cuts back to the golfers so you can't see which way to spin it until it's almost too late. Hopefully, Electronic Arts will fix, or at least alter this, prior to next years release.

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Tiger goes for the drive.
The final oddity with this game is that despite being called PGA Tour there is no real tour mode which covers all the courses. There is still plenty more to keep you occupied for more then enough time, but this seems an odd move compared to all the other EA Sports titles which include season modes.

Graphically, golf has never looked so good. Each of the courses looks very different and are accurately modelled to their real-life counterparts. The players, and especially their animations, are superb and as Tiger Woods has insisted in the development of the game much emphasis was placed on giving individual golfers not only a different look, but very different swings. If you hit a power shot the camera does a couple of wild things such as rotating around the player, showing multiple windows and puts a nice fire effect on the ball. The only problem is that this becomes slightly annoying and can't be turned off. The game is polished off with some nice video clips introducing the players - including the fantasy players.

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Another great St Andrews fairway.
Being a golf game there isn't really a lot you expect from the sound. The swing of clubs, the chirping of birds, some humorous commentary a times. That is exactly what you get in this game. The only thing that could be a little different would be actual comments from the golfers themselves, perhaps about their shots and the courses currently being played. But given their bust schedules and the number of players in the game it may be wishful thinking. And now we come to one of the more controversial aspects of this game. The music. When you think of the laid back atmosphere associated with gold I was almost blown out of my seat when some rather heavy rock music started blaring out of the speakers. I can't even say it was good music - it's shit. It doesn't sit well in a game like this and is almost obtrusive, although it only appears in the menus and intros etc. Finally while the game supposedly supports Pro Logic II it didn't seem to be working. Strange.

While Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2003 may not win over hardcore simulation fans it has easily won me over with the wide variety of game modes, a lengthy list of courses and players to unlock and most importantly a terrific sense of fun. The putting and spin control still needs some improving but as it stands this is easily the best golf game ever seen on a console. If you haven't bought a golf title yet then you won't go too far wrong with this game. The number of options, players and courses will have you hooked for weeks. Well done EA Sports, another "major" winner.

GRAPHICSThe courses look different while player detail and animation is great.
SOUNDIt's a golf game. Birds, club swooshes but, sadly, limited commentary.
GAMEPLAYMany game modes, great controls and courses will keep you busy.
VALUEThe 12 courses will keep you busy as will the Tiger Challenge.
OVERALLWithout a doubt Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2003 is the best title ever seen on a console. Plenty of game modes and options will have you playing for weeks. There is no reason not to purchase this title.

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