Review: Tiger Woods PGA Tour ’07 (Wii)

Tiger Woods PGA Tour ’07 for Wii (also on 360, PS3, others) is the tenth iteration of EA’s current yearly golf game. But other than minor changes like analog thumstick swinging, the series’ controls have largely remained the same until now. So does the Wii version live up to its motion-sensing ambitions? EA’s “How does it feel?” living room commercial is clearly positioning the game for broader audience, but does the title ultimately encourage golfing non-gamers to buy the game? Or, better yet (for Nintendo), buy a Wii? Continue reading for our thoughts, review, and analysis.

The Game

Tiger Woods ’07 on Wii supports quick play, campaign mode, build-a-character, a plethora of mini games, tutorials, and a healthy number of courses. Before I jump on the pros, let’s cover the apparent cons. The menu interface is a bit clunky and counter-intuitive which will make it hard for non-gamers to navigate. The presentation (i.e. ambient graphics outside of character animations) are sub par at best, but the courses do their job making you feel like you’re hitting the links.

Where the game really shines, however, is in the gameplay. Note: I’ve never been a huge fan of simulation golf games like Tiger, though I have played them. But after hitting my first drive, I was sold. Tiger Woods on Wii plays like it should; you simply swing away and are largely convinced that it is you sinking and missing shots. Wii technology senses your power, trajectory, and your natural hook/slice tendencies (if any). Granted, the title has received mixed reviews, citing inconsistent swing glitches as a major problem (perhaps the reviewers don’t have a natural knack for golf?). But I’ve found if you swing in a natural, life-like fashion, you will encounter virtually no errors. Most memorable gamplay moment: Hitting my first long-distant eagle. Tiger does an awesome job in building anticipation as you attempt long shots, puts, eagles, birdies, and the rare hole-in-one experiences. I’ve even found myself shouting aloud and fist pumping when sinking long shots. It makes for a very fun experience.

Sales Factors

Despite it’s being a good game in my book, Tiger Woods on Wii might sell off differentiation alone. While not a perfect game, EA has me convinced that motion-controls should be the de facto way to play a golf games when compared to their traditional gamepad counterparts. With time, EA will likely only enhance the already working and enjoyable controls. This could be the best selling version of Tiger Woods ’07 based on penetration percentages as it offers a fresher experience to an already successful franchise. Unless an individual runs into significant control issues, I don’t see any reason NOT to play Wii-style.

Tiger ’07 isn’t (and won’t) initially fly off shelves, but I suspect this game will continue to sell well in the coming months. Positive reviews, unsatisfying Wii Sports Golf sessions, curiosity, and word-of mouth should help this game sell well until ’08 comes out. So while the game in and of itself won’t turn the golf game equation on its head or move a lot of Wii units in the process, it has the potential to. The game also shows that EA is taking the Wii very seriously. The new experience, that seems all to unfamiliar in recent EA sequelitis history, has raised the price of EA currency as an innovative publisher.

The Scores

Sales Potential: 8
Notes: Tiger Woods on Wii will likely sell off curiosity and differentiation alone, however mixed its reviews.

Franchise Factor: 9
Notes: Tiger ’07 for Wii show’s a lot of potential on future Wii iterations. I don’t know the last time I was this excited for a yearly EA game.

Word of Mouth(Buzz): 7
Notes: Mixed reviews could keep this one low on the radar.

Multiplayer Appeal: 6
Notes: Playing a round of 18 with friends only adds to the experience as you root one another on and secretly hope for their demise. Sadly, the game doesn’t support online play as Nintendo has yet to unveil their network plans.

Killer App: 7 Notes: A killer-app this is not, but it may be a niche golf game killer-app. As stated above, this gamer could care less if he couldn’t go back to playing golf games the way their were (and still are on other platforms). Digital swings are just as fun, if not more, than the real thing. Keep an eye on this franchise moving forward. Criticisms aside, I could see big golf game enthusiasts buying a Wii just for this game in the coming months.

True Value(out of $49.99): $49.95
Notes: This is a category to describe the games actual value as compared to its sale price. On freshness alone, this game is well worth the $50 purchase price. It’s addictiveness has already hooked me.

OVERALL: 8.5 (Potential alone: 9)

Final Thoughts

Tiger Woods PGA Tour ’07 is a very solid golf experience. It’s imperfections keep it from being “a great” game, but it is arguably a must-have for fans of the golf genre or anyone looking for a some added gaming cachet. That said, Tiger Woods for Wii is a gamer’s game, and not one that lends itself well to Nintendo’s “non-gamer” target audience. The complicated menus and controller nuances keep it from being a pick up and play game. But the bottom line is that after playing, Tiger’s gaming future (at least on Wii) seems bright.