GOLF IS POSSIBLY THE MOST relaxing game in the world. Although you wouldn't necessarily believe that when watching the pros buckle under the weight of responsibility, trying to win the PGA Tour.
But if you've had a terrible day at work, there's no better way to bust the stress than a couple of rounds on Tiger Woods 07.
Last year's Xbox 360 version was underwhelming, not least because the game had fewer features than the other console versions. The entertaining Rivals mode was arguably the worst omission. Thankfully, this 07 incarnation is on a par with all the other consoles, but with the added bonus of slightly sharper HD graphics. It's still not even approaching the wonderful photorealism of Fight Night Round 3, but the 12 championship courses still look very crisp and appealing.
Still, the series is undoubtedly showing an increasing preference for realism over easy arcade thrills. While there is a scattering of fantasy-style courses, they're not quite as over-the-top as the ones from yesteryear (particularly Tiger Woods 05).
It's not a game that's lost its sense of humour, though. In the new Tiger Challenge mode, you come up against 16 fantasy players, all of which have real character and a sense of fun about them. We particularly like Pops Masterson - a nervous dude who nearly dies of a heart attack after a bad shot!
Once you've defeated the players in Tiger Challenge, you can use them in any game mode, and there are plenty of those too. The new additions to last year's game are the fourplayer one-ball games Greensome and Bloodsome and the Xbox Live mode actually titled 'One Ball' which replaces the old Rivals mode. This is probably the most entertaining of the new additions, where you and the other player share the ball, taking turns until one player holes out. No sniggering at the back!
Game Face has received a welcome makeover and it's now easier than ever to make a convincing (or totally outrageous) looking golfer. Instead of having tons of sliders, there are two or three for each facial feature. The new sliders work simultaneously on the X and Y planes allowing you to make changes quickly and intuitively.
The gameplay itself has changed very little. Improved caddy tips help you to putt with greater accuracy, without taking away the element of skill. Likewise, the Right thumbstick works well as a loft stick, allowing you to fine-tune the shot angle.
Of course, the usual downsides are that it's hardly a massive leap over last year's game, the most notable addition being twice the number of courses. It could almost have been done as an Xbox Live Marketplace download rather than a standalone off-the-shelf title.
In spite of this, Tiger Woods PGA Tour 07 is another reliable entry in the series. It's fun to play, a great stress reliever and includes some very imaginative and well-realised modes. We'd definitely consider picking this up if you missed out on last year's edition. Otherwise hold back for next year's iteration - you could get a few real rounds in by then...
GOOD-LOOKING FUN FOR TIGER WOODS NEWBIES
- Crisp graphics and slick presentation
- Decent new game modes
- Control system is smart and intuitive
- Not a massive graphical leap
- Very similar to last year's game