We sports gamers like to complain. A lot. It’s what we do. Sometimes, they’re legitimate gripes, while most of the time we just like to argue amongst ourselves about impossibly inane details of our favorite titles. A typical bullet point these days is that most new PS2 sports titles are simply (at best) roster updates from the previous year as the offending developer concentrates on the newer consoles. While that’s generally fair, by now it’s also a defendable practice. After all, the PS2’s power has long since been maxed out, and for the most part there’s nothing left to squeeze out of the little black box.
That’s what makes the newest Tiger Woods title for the PS2 so vexing. Instead of slapping a couple of middling new features onto last year’s title and calling it a day, this season’s game has actually been stripped down. Tiger Challenges? Gone. A standalone FedEx playoffs mode? Also gone. Mingames? Nope. And forget about online play. There isn’t a single shiny “New” graphic next to anything on the menus this year - all you get is Play Now, PGA Tour, and an EA Cup. Zippo on anything else.
Thusly chagrined, we stopped searching for other things to do and finally walked onto a course. Turns out that was the best decision we made all day, since the difficulty level from last year has been ramped down from ass-whompingly hard to just plain tough. Your created character, naturally, suffers from an acute case of suckitis at the start of his campaign as you slog through some tournaments to scrape up enough cash to improve your gear and build up skills. Slowly but surely, it morphs into a compelling experience that you can easily sink a couple of dozen hours or so into.
One of our favorite things is the multiple swing styles you can use, even switching things up from one shot to another during a round. A couple of different flavors of analog swinging as well as a click-to-hit mechanic should prevent anyone from getting too frustrated. Unfortunately, the analog stick feels a little too loose; nailing maximum power is harder than it should be.
Forty bones would’ve been too much to pay for an update to last year’s game; it’s nearly insulting to ask that for a hollow shell of past Tigers. While the golf is undeniably fun, you’re much better off snapping up a copy from Tiger’s PS2 heyday a couple of years back – unlike baseball or football, these games tend to age well. Apparently it’s time for Mr. Woods to gracefully exit the PS2 stage in favor of greener pastures.
Sep 10, 2008