This is the hardest review I have ever written, and I have written literally hundreds of reviews for various publications. However, early in my iPhone reviewing life I wrote a review that would come to haunt me for all the days of my life. At the time I loved the game, and I honestly thought a game on the iPhone could not get better. I’m not going to call out the game by name, I will just say it is the same sport as Tiger Woods, which is the game I am about to review here and now. I am writing this preface to say flat out, regardless of the score I give Tiger Woods, it is better then the other game, however, expectations for iPhone games have increased ten fold since that fateful day when I wrote that other review. Now back to regularly scheduled Tiger Woods review.
Tiger Woods is a golf game, in case you were not able to guess, or maybe you live under a rock and have never heard of the golfer the name associates with. In terms of console golf games, Tiger Woods is second to none, and it’s very good to see that it’s being brought over to our beloved iPhone.
Even more fortunate then the fact that the game exists is the fact that didn’t go with some horribly implemented swing control method, rather they went with possibly the most intuitive control method I have seen on the iPhone. I have written a couple previews about the swing mechanic, and after playing the game for short bursts at various events I was impressed, but after really digging in the game for an extended period of time I could truly see how much play testing and thought went into the controls. Basically there is a meter on the screen with a little golf ball on top of it, you drag the meter down to the desired amount of power and swipe forward to take the shot. Where it gets interesting is in the subtle mechanics, like slicing the ball if you move your finger back and go forward to left or right, rather then straight forward. If you draw your finger back past the end of the meter you and hold it for a couple of seconds, you can put some boost on the shot to get that little extra something.
Once the shot is in the air your work is not done. Oh no, now is the time to put spin on the ball, you can do this by swiping the screen in the direction you want the ball to spin. Putting some fast spin on the ball has saved me from ending up in a hazard on numerous occasions.
So, you’ve driven beautifully, made a clean approach and now you have arrived at the hardest part of golf, putting. Putting in Tiger Woods, is not overly hard though, you have a grid on the green that shows you how it breaks, and the caddy even tells you how many feet or inches you need to adjust your shot. I personally think that would be enough assistance, but they also let you preview the shot with a nice white line that tells you exactly the path that the ball will travel. I can say honestly, that in my time playing the game, I almost never missed a putt because there is so much assistance from the AI.
Tiger Woods essentially only has 2 modes, but that’s really all it needs. There is the basic play now mode, where you choose a course and go to town, and then there’s the PGA Tour mode, where you start a PGA tour and play through all the different events that a golf pro would go through. This is the bread and butter of the game. I hope you are in for a time commitment, because to play a lot of the PGA Tour mode is going to take some time. Just like real pro golf, you play each course four times to complete the event, unless of course you don’t make the cut to move onto the next day, in which case the event ends for you and move on to the next one.
There are a total of 7 real life courses in Tiger Woods, so if variety is your thing, you’ll find plenty of it. There are also a few other pro golfers to play as, or against. These include Tiger Woods and Retief Goosen as well as others. I personally preferred to play with my own custom golfer, and even though to choices are limited in the game, it’s still cool to be able to make your own guy. That was a long description of the game, but there’s a lot of game to describe, anyway, without further ado, let’s get into….
The logical starting point is the controls, because they the best implemented controls I have seen in an iPhone game. It’s one of those things that are kind of hard to describe, but it’s just a certain feel that I get from manipulating the controls in Tiger Woods that no other game on the iPhone has been able to deliver.
The amount of courses is another incredibly solid aspect of the game. There are 7 real life courses in the game, and although I’m no golf expert, the courses look just like they do on TV. I would imagine that anyone who has ever played golf on these courses would be more then happy with attention to detail that EA has put into them.
The sound is incredible. Most iPhone game I can do without the sound at all, but the commentating is so good in Tiger that I actually enjoy listening to them. The sound effects are also really good. When you pull a perfect 100% percent boost and time slows down, the sound of the club slamming the ball is so very satisfying.
The PGA tour mode is also great. It offers a ton of gameplay. If you want a game that is going to get your moneys worth, look no farther then Tiger Woods, because it will offer hours and hours of gameplay.
The visuals really let me down here. When I saw the game in preview it looked good but it seemed to need a little more polish. It seems as if that needed polish was just not done. I don’t know if they just ran out of time in the development cycle and needed to get the game out the door, but I wish they took a little more time to really smooth things out. If the visuals were as good as the rest of the game, I would have no problem giving this game a perfect score.
I also had a couple occasions where the game would crash on me. It wasn’t common place, but there were 3 or 4 occasions where it would lock up and quit. Specifically on the 18th hole of St. Andrews. Almost every time I drove on this hole it would crash while the ball was in mid air. Fortunately the game has a great auto save, so I wouldn’t lose my progress, but it was annoying none the less.
The Final Verdict
Tiger Woods iPhone is hands down the best golf game on any mobile platform, including the DS and PSP. It is in fact, one of the best games I have played on the iPhone to date. It has a couple flaws that keep it from being completely perfect, but it’s still an amazing game, and one I can easily recommend.