The second links title for the PS2, Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2001 aims for a more realistic, bare-bones approach to the sport than the flashier Swing-Away Golf. While the game coasts mainly on the star power of its spokesman, it does offer the makings of one of the better console interfaces in years. Once you get the handle of the basic swing functions, Tiger 2001 is little more than your standard tournament-skins-exhibition golf sim, showing a hint of depth despite its lack of flash.
I Can’t Believe It’s Not Putter
The graphics of Tiger 2001 are a mixed bag of visual tricks and treats. While green itself cuts a beautiful swath, while the trees look like they’ve been Photoshopped in at the last minute. The horizons are pretty, if obscured by liberal amounts of fog that obscure a lack of texture mapping. Despite some adequate motion capture animation, Tiger doesn’t look like his usual self, as if he’s been spending more time at his local Krispey Kreme donuts than the driving range. Even worse, the framerate tends to dip at random moments, even down to a rickety 30 fps.
The audio portion of the game features some commentary by Tiger, usually limited to such exclamations as “draw” and “hang on”. If you’re a novice, Woods’ whining might turn you off, especially when your balls land in the rough. Making par or even a birdie elicits a very self-congratulatory remark. In effect, it’s not a particularly flattering performance for the star. The ambient noise, with crashing waves and chirping birds, is much more pleasant.
Man of Iron (and Woods)
Control is the one area where Tiger 2001 has the chance to shine, and for the most part the new schematic is a fine blend of finesse and speed. Your swing motions are all dictated by using an analog stick, either right or left. You can also shank the ball in mid-air or apply spin using the D-pad. Though it’s basically a variation on the old start-stop power meter standard to the genre, the new configuration allows for excellent ball control. Putting is simply an extension of your basic driving motion. The short game is about as quick and painless as it gets. Viewing the green is a breeze, once you get used to the slightly unorthodox layout of the button set-up. Everything from adjusting your stance to changing your shot selection is performed in seconds. The speed at which you can complete a round is a small but significant step in golf game design.
As for players, the field of competitors is small, with only a handful of pros to choose from. Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2001 differentiates itself from other EA Sports titles in that it lacks marquee match-ups. Besides Tiger there are no “name” golfers in the talent pool; gamers looking to play as or against other heavyweights such as David Duval and Sergio Garcia are in for a letdown. There are only three courses to play on, which also limits the replay value for PGA Tour fans.
Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2001 should benefit from EA’s customary annual facelift and roster change. It’s the leader in PS2 golf if you’re looking for a more sim-oriented game, but in comparison to the genre’s peers barely putts under par for course.