Tiger Woods 07 360 impressions

You’d think after all my EA vitriol in the past week I’d be spitting on the EA name, but my love of the Tiger Woods games is too great… so I picked this up.

Seeing how I can no longer just grab all the courses through entering a unlock code, I started chugging away at it to get some more courses to play in multiplayer.

And, what a fantastic game it is. It’s by far the best Tiger Woods game I’ve played. The graphics are much better than the inital 360 version from last year, with full 3D people, great looking trees, and much improved looking roughs.

The courses themselves have way better sampling resolution, moreso than in any golf game I’ve ever played. This makes for little hills and valleys on the course all over the place that really add to the realistic feel.

But, the best aspect of this years iteration is that it’s actually hard. Really hard so far. They’ve taken out the “pinpoint” aiming system, and replaced it with a circular area where the ball can potentially land. This area gets smaller as your golfer’s accuracy skill improves. The new area landing system makes risky shots acutally risky. Couple that with what seems like a much more sensitive stick swing mechanism, and it actually feels like you’re the one making the shots. (EDIT: you can still dumb the game down pretty far if you’re not familiar with the game. On previous years’ versions, however, once you got the feel for it you could pretty much nail birdies and eagles no problem on every hole even on the hardest difficulty setting).

As far as skill increases go, it seems so far that your skills actually improve as you play. Hit an accurate long drive, and your accuracy and power stats slightly increase. You can also play “training challenges” to up your skills, which are golf minigames on a practice range that differ for each skill you’re trying to improve. No more just earning money and arbitrarily dumping it into skills.

Another pleasant surprise is that the ad-monster hasn’t tainted the very core of the product like it has in Fight Night. I played about 3 18 hole PGA tour days, and haven’t seen one ad or heard an announcer mention a product yet. The only product placement I’ve seen is for something called the “Fed Ex Tournament” which is selectable from the main menu… although I have no idea what it is.

While I’m still royally pissed off about being charged to unlock courses (which I definately won’t be paying for), the rest of the game gets a big thumbs up from me.

I have been eagerly anticipating this so I’m happy to hear some positive impressions. My copy is in the mail, can’t get to get into it. If anyone wants to play online, I will be well up for it.

Putting is really hard in this game. I’m starting to understand the system, but I’m nailing double bogeys left and right.

One of the neat little features I just saw was I sliced a drive pretty badly. The ball flew into the crowd and everyone covered their heads. It hit some woman and she fell over. I’m pretty sure she ragdolled as well. They’ve also been yelling “BOO!” at me when I’m at the tee.

There is a cool new multiplayer mode called oneball. You basically play it with 2-4 people, and everyone hits the same ball one after another. Whoever makes the ball in first gets the most points. The catch is, you have to hit the ball inside certain defined “trust zones” on the way to the hole, otherwise you’re penalized. So you have to balance between making it into the trust zone and screwing over the next guy’s shot. It could be really fun.

Also, EA’s lack of a manual really hurts certain aspects of this game. Especially one where nuance means as much as it does in golf.

I’d like to know exactly what is disabled and made harder in the higher difficulty levels. Last years’ game actually explained exactly what it was you were changing. In this one, it gives vague hints (your drives are going to be tough on this one!)

Also, for putting, I’d like to know exactly how many feet are between each grid line. It would be really helpful for setting up shots.

I smell a great place for a microtransaction!

I actually preferred Tiger when it was a bit easier (04 and 05 were my favorites), but I’m sure I can get used to the less forgiving model. I got frustrated quickly with 06 but that was partly because the whole thing felt like a bit of a half-assed port.

I’m pretty sure you can make the game as easy as the 04 and 05 editions. The only part you can’t change is the new drive/stroke aiming mechanic.

And, for the record, I despised the 06 360 version. Luckily I heard so many bad things about it that I only rented it to check it out.

FedEx actually sponsors the PGA Tour in real life.

I just learned that if you drive a ball and it hits a spectator square in the nuts it counts as out of bounds. Even if it landed in light rough after the schrotal contact.

I’m currently a low 41 over par in my current competition. The spectators constantly boo me. The last 3 rounds I completed the commentator said something to the effect that this is the worst round he’s ever seen. They really hate me out there.

And now you know why my mother-in-law hated Tiger.

Wow, it’s that hard?

Yes, and I’m loving the challenge. Keep in mind, this is at the hardest difficulty with every helper turned off. If you play on standard, you’re in for a much easier time. There are many more helpers for putting, and the swing stick isn’t as sensitive.

They finally allowed you to disable almost all the putting helpers (best line, caddy tip, etc) in this version. Couple that with much bumpier greens given the new mesh resolution, and you’ve got some really tough putting. Basicailly, you get an arrow that shows how far the ball will go with full power on the club. You can only move this arrow in five foot increments, or for longer puts 10 foot increments. You then have to judge how much backswing and left to right aiming is needed just by reading the grid. There is one further helper in that it will tell you how many inches above or below you the cup is, to which you compensate a foot of distance to each inch. Tiger Woods never made it this hard for you… which made the game way too easy. It’s only rarely unfair at the harder level, it just requires a ton more skill.

At the easier levels, you still get the caddy tips and best line to hole though. So don’t be concerend.

I’m playing on the Balanced difficulty and find the difficulty to be just right for me. This is my first TW game so I wanted to get used to it as well (played the heck out of Links 2004). But I’m not sure if I’ll go up in difficutly as I really much more of a casual “Golden Tee” player. Overall I’m having a blast with it too.

I think I’ve figured out the swing stick but I just want to verify. To hit a lighter shot (i.e. 90%) with irons and wedges I’ve been pulling all the way back and then pushing forward at an appropriate time before the backswing completes. Is this the best way? I’m still a little frustrated trying to figure it out. Especially on drives as sometimes I’ll just completely flub a shot that feels like it was great.

I also had a headslapping moment in the Tiger Challenge bracket. I thought you had to clear out each level before moving down to the next one. It was a real pain in the ass to beat that 3rd guy on the first bracket. No wonder since his abilities were much higher than mine. Doh!

That is exactly how you do it for irons, wedges and woods. For putting, it’s the same as well, except on the right stick you can control the little arrow next to the ball icon on the bottom left of the screen. Making the arrow shortest removes 3 feet from a max swing, and moving it all the way forward adds 3 feet to the max swing.

So, for instance, if you have a put that is 12 feet away, and your power arrow is set to 10 feet, you can push the little arrow forward about 2/3s of the way and you’ll get a 12 foot put.

If you buy the “maxxed-out stats golfer” on Marketplace, can you use him online?

I have no idea… I haven’t touched the online portion yet. Wouldn’t that be awesome if you could, though? They should have a “consumable” that is if you pay $5, you can win an online match immediately. Better yet, your opponent could then raise you $5, and then he could win.

As EA says, it’s all about giving the player options.

On a better note, I’m still really loving this game. It has so many great little touches. I’m also finally getting a bit better. I came in 8th place in my last PGA tourney.

Does anyone know if there are different times of day on the courses? I could have sworn the last Hawaiian course I played was taking place at a later time in the day…

I only played the demo, but I found the putting really bizarre in that for some reason I frequently nailed near-impossible shots, and yet I would consistently overshoot or miss near puts.

I’m no golf expert (I think the last one I played was Links 386), but I’m enjoying this so far. I’m still trying to get the hang of the swing stick, so I’m often falling short of the target, but that’ll just take practice.

The only odd bit is that the competition in the training sessions often seems completely random. On one driving practice round my best was 5.1 yards from the hole, and the AI shot 4.8. On the next round I completely flubbed all of the shots, but the AI also scored a fairly poor 15 yards. Then I managed to get around 3.3 yards…and the AI shot a 1.05. twitch

It seemed like completing the training was just a matter of pure luck, but maybe that’s because my stats are still so low.

I’ve played about 4 PGA tournaments, and haven’t touched training once. As you play through the PGA, your skills improve with every good shot. My guy is doing just fine progression-wise by just doing this.

Aren’t you limited to a few years, though (I think 4). I didn’t want to start the PGA stuff until I got my stats up just a bit. Can you be competitive right off the bat?