Destroying all hopes of a decent 2006 outing, EA Sports has begun the refinement on the Tiger Woods franchise in the '07 Xbox 360 update.
Featuring game play changes exclusive to this edition, long running fans will appreciate the development team listening with an effort to make the game difficult. In the realm of features, the 360 version still falls short.
It's a simple numbers game this year: The 360 version retails for $60. The Xbox version is only $40. Over 20 courses can be found in the previous gen version, while a dozen reside on the 360 disc. Xbox 360 fans can only buy 600 items in the pro shop, while current gen owners can dig into nearly 1200.
The Xbox comes away with numerous game modes, including the Team Tour, which is absent entirely on the 360. It's replaced by the Tiger Challenge, which was used years ago in the game's 2004 appearance.
As usual, numbers do not tell the entire story. On the course, Tiger 07 is wonderful to play. The franchise's familiar and simple to use analog swing feels better, with smoother animation giving it an extra sense of speed and power. The right analog stick now acts as a way to loft or punch shots with a higher sense of accuracy as opposed to simply hitting X to change your shot style.
True Aiming is the addition that makes Xbox 360 Tiger worth a purchase. While putting remains the same, though now with the option to turn off the ideal putt camera that shows the path of the ball, driving and chipping have been radically altered. No longer can your amateur golfer aim at a location and nail it dead on. A circle now indicates the potential lie when you're aiming, as the ball will land anywhere inside this area.
It creates a sense of pressure, something missing from each of EA Sports' golf games since Woods became their cover athlete. Driving a green is risky, as it should be. If a small part of the aiming circle is in the water, there's always the chance that's where it will end up. Playing aggressive is still not as hard as it should be, but players who shot in the upper 40s last year will find themselves struggling to reach those numbers again.
Difficulty adjustments keep the game level for all players. While the sliders that adjust individual sections like drive power and accuracy included on the Xbox are missing on the 360, tweaks still turn out pleasing for everybody. Adjustments such as preventing spin in the air, power boosts, and the putt camera are all changes a golf fan should make. Turning it to Tour difficulty eliminates all unrealistic play, proving the Tiger Woods engine could work as a simulation.
Other upgrades include some sporadic new commentary, vividly enhanced graphics, and the game face now has additional options. Supports for the Xbox Live Vision Camera would be a welcome feature, and the excessive draw in (especially when it comes to the rough) is annoying.
Still, when you've finally earned your +2 club shaft of power in the PGA Tour mode, it will definitely look better than it did on the Xbox or PS2. ESPN Radio updates are nice, though they cannot be turned off unless you disconnect from Xbox Live and they repeat every time you venture back from the game into the menu.
As it was with the two different hockey games this year from EA and 2K Sports, the full Tiger Woods 07 experience requires both the Xbox/PS2 and Xbox 360 version to see all there is to offer. While the continual downsizing of the next generation games is becoming an aggravation, if the time in development is spent fixing game play problems, then this is a fair trade off. For non-fanatics, waiting one more year wouldn't hurt.
Tiger Woods PGA Tour 07 is rated E (Everyone) by the ESRB for, believe it or not, Mild Violence. This game can also be found on: PC, PS2, PS3, PSP, Xbox, Mobile Phone.