Tiger Woods has been running roughshod over hapless golfers for more than a decade now. Much like his legendary bank account, Tiger Woods PGA Tour 08 sports an embarrassment of riches. Packed to the gills with features and modes, EA's annual golf outing is a rousing success - provided you're willing to put in some work. After all, beating The Man doesn't come easy.
The focus this year is the virtual you - literally. Producing a digitized version of yourself by scanning your face into the game via the Xbox Vision Camera is straightforward and looks pretty good, provided you can curb your ADD for 15 minutes or so while the picture is processed (however, the EA website to upload digital photos as an alternate method wasn't working as of this writing). Let's face it - there's nothing quite like seeing yourself paired with Tiger on the course. We can all dream.
Of course, it's tough to compete with the big boys at first, since your created character starts as a flat-out terrible hack. There's no set path to becoming a top-flight player, other than spending plenty of time in the game honing your skills and nabbing upgraded gear. Initially, the Tiger Challenge mode is a more forgiving way than the PGA season to build up your stats, but regardless of which way you go you'd better be prepared to hit some pretty awful shots. A lot. No matter how badly you play, though, each good walk ruined contributes to your abilities - just be sure not to smash your controller along the way.
Two sets of controls are available, depending on your mood. The left analog stick can handle the swing, which is more natural but tends to allow for some serious wildness in all directions if you don't focus like a laser beam. There's also the more traditional three-click approach that golf game gurus have been using for decades. It all works perfectly well - almost too well when you don't line up the club, wind, and course layout just right. Spectators beware!
When you're not smashing slices into unsuspecting fans' groins, chances are you'll be tearing up the innovative GamerNet challenges. There are scads of things to do, such as mimicking crazy shots that others have posted online or participating in tournaments. You can even upload your own awesome accomplishments for folks to top if you feel like bragging. However, with so many gameplay offerings, it only seems logical that something had to suffer a little bit - in this case, it's the somewhat ordinary next-gen visuals. The player models are rather pedestrian, and the swing animations can be disjointed. It's nothing too detrimental, but we're hoping next season brings a bit more eye candy to the course.
No matter which way you line it up, though, Tiger Woods 08 is chock full of golfing glory. Between the addictive character building and the online community features, there's tons of links action. All you'll need is just a little patience.