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Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2005 PC CD-ROM

Published by EA Sports
Developed by Headgate Studios
Released - Out Now
Price : £29.99

Last year we reviewed Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2004 on the Xbox and we were surprised at just how enjoyable the game was. Taking the game as a whole it was excellent and was equally enjoyable for the golf novice and enthusiast alike. A few months ago I purchased the game on the PC (as EA had made it available on their EA Classics range) and whilst it was a slightly different game it was equally as good. This year we'd thought it would be nice to look at the latest PC version of the game and thanks to the kind people at Electronic Arts that's exactly what we've been able to do. The 2005 versions of the Tiger Woods PGA Tour series have a lot to live up to as there was little to fault with last years games.

Once again the latest in the Tiger Woods PGA Tour comes packed to the brim with features. The game offers a Legend Tour, Scenarios, Lessons, Tournaments, a Dream 18 mode, a Practice mode and a Custom mode that enables you to organise your own competition. Online play has once again been included and again it's very good as it allows you to create your own tournaments (or compete in other people's). Once again the game is a kind of golf based RPG as you create a golfer, play and earn money and with the money buy skill improvements that allow your player to take on the better players in the game and earn more money. This seems a simple process but it's very addictive and will keep you playing for many, many hours. The new option here though is the Legend tour. The Legend Tour allows you to take on some of the golfing greats (incidentally in the game you'll find Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Gary Player) but in order to play them you'll have to beat a host of fantasy, and rather wacky characters. It's an enjoyable mode and like all of the modes in the game it allows you to earn money with which to purchase skill upgrades for your golfer as well as Legend Coins (more on that in a moment).

Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2004 on the PC was a very good golf game and proved to be very successful. As a result of this you couldn't really expect the developers to change that much in this years version and that's exactly the way it's worked out. That's not to say that improvements have not been made mind you. Aside from the Legend Tour which we've just mentioned, one of the major improvements is the golfer design element called Game Face II. Game Face II allows you to have exceptional control over what your golfer looks like. Every aspect of your golfers appearance can be customised and whilst it initially seems complicated you'll soon get used to it and create some great looking golfers. The other major addition is the course modifying Tiger Proofing ability. Tiger Proofing allows you to modify courses to increase their difficulty. To use Tiger Proofing you'll have to purchase a course with Legend Coins. Legend Coins can be earned by completing other game modes. Once you've purchased a course you'll have access to various tools that enable the lengthening of tees, the narrowing of fairways, the size of bunkers and much much more. The editing is a simple process and is carried out by the use of adjusting some slider bars. Once you're done the course can be saved, with a name of your choice and played upon. Be warned though Tiger Proof courses can be very challenging and require very good positional play.

As you might expect the PC version is different from the console versions in that control is assigned to the mouse and not a gamepad. Headgate invented the mouse swing control in their previous PGA games and over the years it's been refined almost to perfection. You have the choice of the traditional mouse swing control, where you take the mouse back and then push forward to simulate the swing, as well as the horizontal mouse swing where you move the mouse right then left to simulate the swing. Don't like the mouse swing technique? Well the classic triple-click method has been included as well as a two-click method. The two-click method isn't the old Links style swing though as it's just a dumbed down swing where you click to start the swing and click to set the power. Personally I prefer the default mouse swing but it's great to see that the gamer can choose a method they are comfortable with. The game also has 4 difficulty levels to choose from. The easiest, novice, basically allows you a simple swing which is very forgiving whereas the most difficult setting, expert, requires you to select your own clubs and perform an accurate swing otherwise the ball is going to go all over the place. The expert difficulty setting will challenge even the PC golf veterans out there but having said this it is, ultimately, the most rewarding difficulty level as you know you're not assisted in any way.

Graphically the game has been improved from last years version. The golfer models are slightly more detailed and their animations are also impressive. The water effects in the game are outstanding and easily the best seen in a golf game (and on a par with those in other games). The courses look impressive and they are easily the best seen in a PC golf game. The 9 official courses in the game, including St. Andrews and Troon North, look impressive but the Emerald Dragon fictional course looks magnificent and has to be the best looking course in any golf game. The camera options in the game are also impressive and the presentation as a whole is excellent. One criticism I do have though is the Tiger Proofing. Yes it's a good feature in that it makes courses more challenging but graphically some courses look a mess because of the changes. You'll find bunkers falling into the water for instance as well as other graphical anomalies, which are disappointing. This is only a small complaint though.

Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2005 is absolutely fine for deaf gamers but having said this deaf gamers will miss out on certain aspects of the game. The game has superb commentary and none of this is subtitled and although this doesn't cause any problems it does mean that you will miss out on the odd piece of advice. The one commentator provides advice, usually when on the green, and this advice is rather useful to beginners. Yes if you know how to read the green you won't need the verbal advice but it would have been good to have had the option for it to be subtitled. In every other respect there's no problems though. The tutorial messages are in text (although there is some speech in addition too but nothing of importance).

Just like last years version Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2005 is a class act. OK it doesn't try to be an out and out simulation in the same vein as the Links series on PC, but it's more accessible and the game play has this wonderful ability to appeal to those who normally can't stand golf. If you don't own last years version then we have no doubts at all in recommending this game to anyone interested in playing a PC golf game. If you do own last years game then the recommendation is a little more difficult to make as whilst it improves upon the 2004 version the improvements are probably not must have features. That said though the increased number of courses and the impressive Game Face II might be just enough to persuade you to pay the asking price. Essentially though It's a great game that offers months of enjoyment as a single player game and then you have the very enjoyable online play. What more could you ask?

Overall Game Rating: 8.6/10
Another top-notch PC golf game from EA Sports and Headgate Studios. It's not a large progression from last year's game but nevertheless it's still recommended for anyone after a PC golf game.

Deaf Gamers comment:
No commentary subtitles and as a result the deaf gamer will miss out on a few hints but overall it's fine for deaf gamers.