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Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2004
Platform: PlayStation 2
Publisher: EA Sports
Developer: EA Pacific
Tiger Woods and the PGA Tour continue their exclusive relationship with EA SPORTS for a sixth game in the best-selling professional golf series. Nineteen courses are available in this version, ten of which are based on authentic venues in Pebble Beach, Sawgrass, the Royal Birkdale Golf Club, Princeville, Torrey Pines, Poppy Hills, Spyglass Hill, St. Andrews, and other official locales. Players will be able to compete as or against 20 PGA Tour athletes, including the additions of John Daly and Adam Scott to go along with Ty Tryon, Charles Howell III, Notah Begay III, Vijay Singh, Jesper Parnevik, Jim Furyk, and more.
In addition to the pros, players can select one of 12 returning characters from Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2003 or, for the first time in the series, create their own golfer. Players can select head shape, eye color, body type, skin tone, and other physical attributes, and they'll be able to unlock additional clothing and accessories for their golfer by performing well. The game once again employs the Total Precision Swing system for analog club movement, but Bill Macatee has been replaced with Gary McCord for commentary duties along with David Feherty. Top performances during a round can earn players Trophy Balls for achieving certain milestones in drives, chip-ins, and putts.
New to this version of the game is the PGA Tour Season Mode, where golfers can embark on a 52-week schedule for up to ten consecutive seasons. Throughout their careers, players can earn corporate sponsorships from actual equipment manufacturers and try to earn more money than the great Tiger Woods. The PlayStation 2 internal clock is used to offer players tournaments corresponding to their real-life counterparts. Other new ways to play include the World Tour where players can unlock golfers, earn money, and win equipment while traveling to different destinations across the globe, and variants such as Long Drive Shootout, Best Ball, Stableford scoring, and Battle Golf, among others.
Golfers who play other EA SPORTS games will be able to access their own personal EA SPORTS bio. Special features open up when the game detects multiple saved games stored on the memory card, and various data for all sports titles can be saved to a separate file. As part of the exclusive deal forged between Electronic Arts and Sony, Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2004 for PlayStation 2 is the only console version of the game to feature online play. Players can compete against anyone around the country and enter special online tournaments that will track money lists, complete statistics, and league leaders. Results can also be posted to www.ea.com for display on the web. ~ Scott Alan Marriott, All Game Guide
Package Contents: 34-page Instruction Manual
Typical EA SPORTS black-and-white manual, which lists and describes each play mode and the available options. An in-game tutorial will get players acclimated to the controls as soon as they turn on the system. ~ Scott Alan Marriott, All Game Guide
The detail shown on the courses and the character animation make this the best-looking golf title on PlayStation 2. The only negative is the look of trees up close, whose leaves are made of flat panels instead of individual polygons. ~ Scott Alan Marriott, All Game Guide
Sometimes it takes an athlete only a few years to reach his or her stride, while some tend to be late bloomers. Others spend their careers honing their craft, making subtle improvements each season but never quite reaching their full potential. Tiger Woods, as an athlete, leaped out of the gates the moment he turned professional, but video games based on his likeness have struggled to reach the same level of excellence. That is finally about to change. For its sixth season, its fourth on PlayStation 2, Tiger Woods PGA Tour finally reaches the level worthy of the name.
Interestingly enough, the game features almost the exact same interface and presentation as Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2003, so the improvements do not lie in a drastically revamped engine. The player models are well animated and show an impressive amount of detail, from tattoos and watches to different lengths of facial hair and shades of makeup. While the shoulders are a little blocky in relation to the body, and the faces at times resemble plastic dolls, Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2004 is easily the most impressive-looking golf game on the market, with Outlaw Golf coming in at a distant second.
The changes to the graphics are subtle but welcome. The courses now show the effects of wind, with trees gently swaying back and forth in the breeze, and your golfer's shirt and pants, assuming he or she is wearing pants and not shorts, flapping as well. There are even brief glimpses of wildlife scampering around some of the courses, and birds flying overhead in the distance. None of these visual flourishes really jump out at you, but they do create atmosphere. The interface also helps maintain a sense of realism, with an uncluttered approach to golf that does away with traditional swing arcs, course maps, and other accoutrements associated with most games based on the sport.
The analog-based swing meter seems largely unchanged, though players can now chip with different clubs for variation in roll and distance. The controls are responsive and yet forgiving at the same time to minimize frustration. There's just something to be said about actually watching your onscreen counterpart move the club back in real-time as you rock back your thumb, and when a shot is performed right, you know it even before the ball is struck. Embellishments, such as the throbbing heartbeat sound for clutch hits, are back, and a wild assortment of fist-pumping animations help punctuate each long putt or chip-in. Sound also is excellent, with atmospheric effects so real you'll swear a plane or helicopter is flying over your house before you realize it's part of the game. Traditional effects -- such as birds, dragonflies, chirping crickets, and so forth -- appear on "real" courses, while other sounds (like faint bongos on the islands) can be heard within fantasy courses.
Where Tiger Woods 2004 sets itself apart is in the area of depth. There are now a staggering 20 different courses to compete on, up from the previous high of 14. Perhaps the biggest complaint from previous games was the lack of customization features for the main character. Well, the developers not only addressed this problem but also created one of the most detailed character editors yet seen in any game, let alone a sports title. Players can customize every part of their golfer's face and body using an assortment of sliders, from skin color and tone (including acne and age-related wrinkles) to the physical structure of the skull and facial features such as noses, lips, and ears. The likenesses you can create are often uncanny.
Once a golfer is created to your satisfaction, he or she can be saved and the real fun begins. Each golfer comes equipped with a basic wardrobe at the start, typically EA SPORTS-related attire, and players can spend their hard-earned cash on outfitting them with hundreds of shoes, shirts, jackets, hats, glasses, watches, clubs, and much, much more. Now earning money has a practical purpose other than to maximize a golfer's abilities in power, approach, and so forth. Players can even purchase additional animations (such as dance moves) and items like hair dye to further customize their character's appearance.
Most of the modes will be familiar to players, but there are several interesting additions. Once again you'll engage in one-on-one battles with pro golfers and fictional characters from previous installments for the right to earn big money and unlock whomever you competed against. New to the game is the PGA Career, which involves following a real-life schedule as players enter four-day tournaments each month and try to make the cut. There are also 30 new scenarios to complete, trophy balls to earn, a two-player battle mode that has the winner of each hole taking a choice of clubs away from the competition, and an assortment of arcade-style competitions for fun. Oh yes, there are also "standard" modes like skins, stroke, and Stableford scoring -- all of which can be wagered on.
If the addition of the career and character editor weren't enough, the developers also crammed in real-time events (that correspond to the dates on the calendar) as well as five different items to purchase each day. While the real-time events aren't as random as one would have hoped for, and it would be nice if future installments recognize a player's birthday or other special dates inputted at the game's start, it is like an extra dollop of whip cream on a particularly satisfying slice of warm apple pie. The only real flaw in the game is that the putting system still isn't as intuitive as other golf titles, namely those in the Hot Shots Golf series. While there is an optional grid that helps indicate slopes, players must still rely on a caddie's recommendation to account for distance. Hopefully the developers of future versions will keep the grid and incorporate the same swing system for putting as used in the other areas of the game.
Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2004 on PlayStation 2 is the only console version to feature online support, and it's a huge plus, since there are special online-only tournaments as well as detailed stat-tracking, leaderboards, and chat features. While there are slightly slower loading times in between holes, the graphics are not significantly different when compared to the Xbox or GameCube versions. The other games look a bit crisper overall, with a higher resolution, but the animation, courses, and player models are otherwise identical. No matter which version is selected, however, the end-result is the same: hands down the most playable, enjoyable golf game released to date. ~ Scott Alan Marriott, All Game Guide
The ability to purchase new equipment, increase stats, and enter various real-time tournaments for the right to earn special prizes means this game won't be gathering dust anytime soon. Online play is icing on the proverbial cake. ~ Scott Alan Marriott, All Game Guide
The commentary offers more of the same sarcastic snippets from David Feherty, but Gary McCord will note things like "for his second birdie attempt" once you are on the green. The atmospheric sound effects are fantastic. ~ Scott Alan Marriott, All Game Guide
A great physics engine, appealing presentation, and an amazing amount of game modes easily make Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2004 the title to beat. ~ Scott Alan Marriott, All Game Guide
the game requires Joystick/Gamepad.