Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2005 review

Annual update? This one's called 2005 because that's how many hours you'll take to finish it, exclaims NGC

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Last year we complained that Tiger Woods 2004 was basically just 2003 on steroids. This year it's so big, most players with full-time jobs and social lives will never see more than half of it. You almost need a map to find your way through the menu options.

But the game has made some impressive developments in aspects other than mere size. Expert players will find they have more control over the ball, while there are playing aids and simpler game modes for novices. And the amount of customisation you can do means there are actually some good reasons for owners of the previous versions to consider making the update.

If you can shoot your way around the 2003/2004 courses in under 50 strokes, the new Tiger-proofing mode lets you narrow the fairways, deepen the bunkers and roughen the, erm, rough. It makes things a lot less forgiving. You can put together a super course of your favourite 18 holes, all Tiger-proofed to the max, and as your reputation grows in the new, much harder PGA Tour mode, revered golfers such as Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Greg Norman will turn up to challenge you to a round.

Create your own player, complete with custom-designed swing and a face modelled via screen after screen of sliders, and you can compete in events ranging from basic tournaments to challenges based on the playing styles of some of the biggest names in golf. Or, if you prefer, you can spend 10 minutes hitting balls off the top of a skyscraper. There are 14 courses in total, two of which are locked from the start, and only three repeated from last year's edition.

Using the analogue stick to swing the club adds an arcade-style feel that's enhanced by the inclusion of the mystical Tiger Vision putting aid and a range of over-the-top celebration animations - all of which can be turned off or toned down if you prefer a more serious game.

We're still not convinced by the putting, which tells you where to place a cursor rather than trusting the traditional 3D grid and your instincts. And the way the camera view blurs up and zooms out, when all you want is a quick look around the course, is as irritating as ever. But as a whole, this is the new benchmark in golf sims.

Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2005 is out on 24 September

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