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Xbox Review: Tiger Woods PGA Tour 06

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A golfer steps back, looking at a par 3 that will earn him a championship if he can make birdie. He lines up his shot, adjusts for the wind, and begins his back swing. However, this is Tiger Woods ’06, and none of that is necessary. Charge the gamebreaker, start your swing, and jam on the A button. Instant hole-in-one.

This deplorable entry in the seven-year-old series is the worst in an otherwise enjoyable PGA franchise. It caters to no one, not the die-hard fans of the sport or those looking for an arcade experience. It’s game filled with confusion as to what it wants to be, and it kills this yearly franchise the minute you step on the course.

Before that however, things look great, aside from the missing custom soundtrack feature. The Game Face feature returns, even more in-depth than it was previous. Creating a player has never been this involving. It’s fully functional, allowing players to create their swing and a voice to represent them. The customization has finally been split, leaving experience points to use on attributes and cash on items. This should have been done last year.

Rivals mode is the only new addition to the single player experience. Here you’ll go back in time to prove yourself against the greats of the game (in their prime) to show that you are the greatest golfer of all time. It’s nice to see the best players receive their do, but beating them should not be this easy.

To say this franchise’s engine is dated would be kind. This is a disgustingly easy game of golf. The changes are few, but they’re enough to ruin even the slightest feeling of simulation that previous entries managed to hold down. It all starts with the new putting mechanic.

Supposedly making the game more difficult, the “caddy tips” of old have been deleted, and setting power on the putt works like it does for every other analog swing. The grid is accurate thanks to a decent graphics engine (epsecially in progressive scan) and it serves its purpose. Of course, there’s no need to read this when you can tap the A button to see the exact spot you need to set to make the shot. Just line up this briefly shown camera (complete with a line showing the path of ball) with a background object and you’re done.

The same goes for the absurd gamebreaker feature. This is one of those that makes you wonder how desperate sports game developers have become. Strapped for ideas, you’ll build a meter as the game goes on. Fill it and use it on a par 3, it’s an instant hole-in-one. There’s no sense of accomplishment here and it will plague online games and stat sheets.

Brought on from last year, Tiger-proofing makes the game harder for players who find the game too easy (in other words, everyone). Instead of switching the engine or limiting the 300+ yard drives which would be the logical thing to do, the developers modify the courses as you play. Fairways will shrink, greens will run faster, and the rough will grow. In the time it took to program this, someone could have created something to make this realistic.

The final new addition to the system is the “shape stick,” a fancy marketing term for “lazy addition that has no point.” This will adjust the trajectory of the ball, and start the spin once in the air (which can then still be adjusted depending on how the shot went). This would be somewhat ok on the PS2, but not on the Xbox. It’s impossible to hit the white button for power and use the analog stick to “shape” your shot. Buried in a bunker, you’ll need both. However, you can do just fine by powering up as you could the previous three years.

Multiple cases of identity crisis ruin this golf game. Yes, each feature could be turned off if you want, but then it’s still too easy and players are only human. Every single shot feature in this game, besides the analog swing mechanic, would have players kicked off Xbox Live for cheating in a different golf game. In Tiger Woods ’06, it’s the norm.

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About Matt Paprocki

Matt Paprocki has critiqued home media and video games for 13 years and is the reviews editor for Pulp365.com. His current passion project is the technically minded DoBlu.com. You can read Matt's body of work via his personal WordPress blog, and follow him on Twitter @Matt_Paprocki.