Tiger Woods PGA Tour 08 Review

Generally when I get a new video game, I play it for a little while, then put it away for a few weeks, then eventually put it in again and beat it (and wow, in the wrong context, that sentence reads pretty sexually).

But Tiger Woods 08 is a different story. I bought it last Tuesday, and brought it home at 11 p.m. I planned on just playing for a couple hours, but I didn’t stop until 7 a.m. (that’s right, I went to sleep about 90 minutes after the sun came up).

First off, I have to discuss the Game Face feature. EA had this for some of their PC games awhile back, but it sucked. Seriously, it barely worked at all, and your “game face” character ended up looking so different from anything else in the game. But my character in Tiger Woods 08 looks so much like me its incredible. I had to take a front picture and profile shot, and the process on the PS3 is much more complicated than it needs to be, but if you put in the half-hour of work, you won’t be disappointed.

OK, now I have to be honest, I made the mistake of taking my character and jumping right into a PGA TOUR career. But with my basic character, I was basically hitting 250 off the tee, and usually in the rough. So I had to find a way to get my character better.

That’s where the Tiger Challenge comes in. It’s a series of mini-events that focus on specific areas of your game, and allow you to earn money, improve your skills, and have fun doing it. Seriously, these little mini events were WAY more fun than actual tournaments. Plus, I feel like once I complete the Tiger Challenge -- which consists of 8 hexagons of events surrounding a boss, that leads into a hexagon of next-level bosses surrounding Tiger Woods himself -- I should actually have a PGA TOUR caliber player.

As for the actual gameplay, there are 2 swing types, but 3 methods of controlling them. You can use Total Swing Control, which uses the analog sticks to swing, and choose either the left stick or right stick as your swing stick (and the opposite stick controls club loft). I tried this for awhile and couldn’t get into it, so I switched back to the 3-click method, which some people complain doesn’t give you enough control over your swing, but I still prefer it (mostly because it was the only swing method back when I started playing the Tiger Woods series).

The graphics are stunning as always. The courses look incredible. I played the 17th at Sawgrass (the famous island green) and couldn’t believe how realistic it looked. Pebble Beach has never looked better. The sound effects are pretty damn good too, though the default volume level has the background sounds pumped up way too high. And I feel like in the game, every course must be near some kind of army base, since I keep hearing helicopter sound effects. What’s the deal with that?

Overall, I’m very impressed with this game, so much so that I’ve yet to play NHL 08, which I bought on the same day.