Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2006 goes clubbing

Next-gen Tiger shows his stripes in swinging new screens. PLUS! Interview with the game's product manager at EA

Now that he's finally coming out of his well-publicised 'slump', Tiger Woods looks like a changed golfer. He's got a new swing, a new attitude, and he's rediscovered that killer Tiger touch that he seemed to lose after ruling the game for years on end.

Similarly, EA's Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2006 is bringing a whole new raft of features and improvements to its game - including a next-gen Xbox 360 version that will compliment the PS2, Xbox, GameCube, PC, PSP and mobile versions and launch alongside the console in November.

A new dual analogue stick system lets you control you shots better than ever, the GameBreaker system lets you pull off extraordinary shots if you've got the cuts and you can earn extra money by 'calling your shot' before you hit it.

PS2 Screen

On top of that there's all the usual improvements we expect from EA's sports franchises, like the latest stars, the hottest courses and the most accurate professional tournaments. The PC, PS2 and Xbox versions will all offer online play, too.

The Xbox 360 version will feature ridiculously detailed courses and motion capture as well as mo-capping Tiger's facial movements for the first time.

We've got freshly-cut screens of the PS2, Xbox and Xbox 360 versions for you to putt your eyeballs into and we recently had the opportunity to grab an interview with Amy Bartlett, Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2006's product manager at EA Redwood.

A new year, a new Tiger. What's the main addition for 2006?

Amy Bartlett: This is the first look for everybody because we didn't show it at E3 this year. So we're not showing all our new features, but we're showing a couple of new things and those should help give you an idea of where we're heading.

The first new thing concerns the swing. Any Tiger fans will know that we pioneered the analogue stick swing, so pulling back straight and pushing forward straight will get you a pretty good swing and strike of the ball. That's still the same, but this year we've tweaked the spin mechanic by letting you adjust where you strike the ball with the right analogue stick.

If you pull back on the right analogue stick at the point of impact you'll cut under the ball, forcing a higher trajectory and putting some backspin on there. And if we push up on the right analogue stick you'll top the ball, giving a lower trajectory and putting some top spin on there. The same applies for sidespin - drawing and fading the shot. This gives you much more freedom and power to shape your shot for every circumstance, and lets you nail your approach shots down onto the green with lots of spin.

PS2 Screen

What does this add to the swing system?

Amy Bartlett: It's much more like real golf because you have to fine-tune and perfect where you're striking the ball to get the best results. That gives us extra depth and something the player has to learn. And if you've never played Tiger before you'll still be able to play a solid round without messing with your impact marker - just like a real golfer.

It's very different to the old spin system where you added spin after you had impacted the ball.

Amy Bartlett: Well, we still have that. Depending on your abilities you'll be able to put even more spin on the ball after impact, but what we're doing with the impact marker is giving the player more control over how they shape their shot off the club.

So rather than changing the whole system you're actually adding an extra dimension...

Amy Bartlett: Exactly. People who have played Tiger for the past few years have really mastered the system and got almost ridiculously good, so rather than completely revamp it we wanted to add a new level of challenge for people who are already experts.

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