It has always baffled me that Tiger Woods titles are always released just as the golfing tour draws to a close. Then my inner cynic reminds me that Christmas is on its way and the timing makes sense. Lo and behold, Christmas is now drawing close hence we have the latest update in the series, Tiger Woods: PGA Tour 2006.
TW2006 features returning gameplay modes from TW2005 such as the PGA Tour, single player and arcade golfing options. The main addition to your options this time around is the incorporation of the "Rivals Mode" that allows you to challenge golfing legends from the past and present. You can now tear up the green against the likes of Arnold Palmer & Jack Nicklaus.
It is still possible to take on the current golfing elite as yourself in Career mode. Using EA's GameFace editing, depending on the amount of patience you have and how accurate your self image is, you can create a replica of your self in an extended addition to GameFace that now includes extra features animations. Once you are happy with your likeness you are ready to take on the tour in a career mode that encompasses the entire yearly PGA tour in full. The longevity of this has also been extended with players being allowed 30 seasons to the world's number 1. As you start competing in tournaments your goal is to win money and attract sponsorship in order to improve your attributes.
There are 21 golfers to choose from and the selection now incudes the wonderfully trousered Ian Poulter. There are also 14 courses to choose from, 11 of which are based on real-life. The main drawback here is that whilst new courses have been added, old favourites have been taken away. Why not just build up the stock of courses so that you have a wide variety of excellent real courses? I don't know the answer, but I do get the feeling that these courses will be revamped and added as "new" in future Tiger Woods releases.
The main addition to TW2006 in terms of game-play revolves around dual analog control. When striking the ball down the fairway, the object of the dual analog control is to control where you impact with the ball when striking it. The left analog stick controls your swing as always, whilst using the right to determine where you hit the ball controls fade, draw & spin. This addition gives the user the choice of how to control their golfer. However these controls were always incorporated in the past by your swing and the option remains to put spin on the ball whilst it is airbourne, which begs the question why the dual analog system exists for the fairway. The dual analog system also transfers across to the putting green. Here, left analog still controls swing, whilst right analog controls both trajectory and the strength of the putt. Gone are the days of caddy tips in favour of a more accurate grid to illustrate the gradients of the green and a virtual "ideal putt" line.
The graphics as always are excellent, but I believe that you wouldn't be able to tell them apart from TW2005. Crowd animations are still lacklustre and the game could still do with some further random animations in the background to give it more of a realistic feel, like a round of golf on a Sunday morning. The sound quality has not improved from TW2005 and suffers from the same monotony that most repeat title commentaries fall in to, with the exception of the Happy Gilmore style "go home…" commentary.
This is still the best Golf simulation on the market, but I don't really feel that this is the point anymore. The real question is whether the latest Tiger Woods offering is worth upgrading to from the last. The answer is probably not. The game has been tweaked rather than evolutionized. I always get the feeling that EA will market the game based on a gimmick such as TW2005's "Tigervision" or FIFA 2005's "First touch" based on a tweak rather than evolving the game to the next level. It is still a great game and if it is your first experience of the Tiger Woods golf simulations, then it is well worth having. If you already have TW2004 or TW2005…..
7 out of 10