Thu, Apr 19, 2007 - Page 14 News List

Video-Game Reviews

COX NEWS SERVICE

TIGER WOODS PGA TOUR 07

EA Sports

Wii

Every year Electronic Arts releases a Tiger Woods golf game, each offering variations, tweaks and modest-to-momentous improvements over the previous edition. Always a decent-looking franchise, Tiger Woods PGA Tour 07 now features great-looking, high-definition visuals on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 new-generation consoles, while online play (when enabled) features stats tracking, leaderboards and one-off games with twosomes or foursomes and full-fledged, long-playing cyber tournaments.

It's comprehensive, dazzling stuff — the nicest spoiled walk in the woods you're likely to find this season, scoring a solid four stars out of five when reviewed here late last year.

However, traditional video-game consoles have limits, mainly because you use your thumbs to actuate the swing of a club — movements normally associated with your hands, arms and back. In essence, you must learn a new hand-eye skill to emulate a full-body one.

So it follows that Tiger Woods PGA Tour 07 has come available for the Wii, Nintendo's latest video-game console. While not renowned for its graphical chutzpah — Wii only delivers standard-definition graphics — the new system is righteously acclaimed for its innovative controller. Boasting a form factor more akin to a TV remote control than a conventional game controller, the Wii controller — dubbed the "Wii-mote" — is a multibutton, trigger-laden, motion-sensitive device that translates all motion into in-game action(s). Left, right, up, down, fore, back, pitch, yaw, depth, gyration ... if you can move it, the Wii-mote can sense it — and velocity, too. As such, it's a natural golf-swing sensor, used just so in Tiger 07.

If you're looking for an excuse to pick up a Wii for the kids and then dominate the playtime yourself, Tiger 07 is a pretty good one. In fact, the Wii comes bundled with a free game call Wii Sports, a collection of sports-themed games that are simplistic and shallow, yet fun and accommodating. Golf is one of them, charming and accessible, but not particularly profound.

Tiger 07 golf on the Wii, on the other hand, is much more sophisticated. It uses the Wii-mote to compliment the full-bodied game of golf — essentially the same game available on other platforms, minus the online modes but with a fully integrated, Wii-specific controller configuration; the same thorough golf-simulation experience with the added bonus of stand-up-and-play interfacing.

Still, the Wii-mote is not a golf club. In fact, it only modestly replicates one. It's too small for one thing; not conducive to a proper two-handed grip (using one hand, tennis-racket style, is just as effective), and lacks weight.

The Wii-mote controlling each shot, meanwhile — again in the name of accessibility or perhaps due to programming befuddlement — is a little too forgiving for its own good. That is, if your golf swing resembles that of a hockey player, you'll still manage a solid semblance of grip-it-and-rip-it golf.

Even with user-modified or advanced settings — making for more nuanced control in which it's cognizant of the user's tendency to hook or slice — it's nearly impossible to lightly chop or choke up. There are no bump-and-run taps from the fringe, just an automated backswing and boom!

That seems amiss considering the Wii-mote can track a smooth/rough backswing in Wii Sports, but it doesn't in Tiger 07.

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