I had planned on trying an older demo this week, catching up on some of the demos that came out before I bought my 360, but the Tiger Woods demo dropped earlier this week and I thought that would be more enjoyable. Even though I haven’t been kind to EA lately, I read Tycho’s praise for the demo on Monday and had to give it a try. Tycho groks, as they say, golf.
The download itself comes in just under a gig and presents a pretty sparse demo – you play as Tiger, you’re given a handful of holes and your thrown into the game not needing much else. The last Tiger Woods game I played was TW ’05 on the Xbox, which I loved, but it had too many frilly extras I didn’t care for. Luckily, the basic swing mechanics were the same, so there wasn’t much of a learning curve.
With such a basic demo, what could be gleaned? A lot. Tycho followed up his initial praise with a more substantial post yesterday and it succintly captures the truth — this looks like it is going to be a good game of golf.
EA Sports, surprisingly, is headed in the right direction here. Gone is all the hyper-drama. No more flaming drives. No more shots of your swing from thirty different angles. No more controller-shaking heart beats. Just a simple golf swing, a flying, spinning ball. It starts with the crisp sound of metal on ball and ends with the soft thud of ball landing on green. No dramatic zooms into Tiger’s squinting eyes as he wills the ball into the hole. As far as I can tell, there’s no “doing the worm” after sinking a long putt. Just the golfer, the swing and the landing. Quite beautiful in its simplicity.
I also like the changes to the putting game. It’s different from the 2005 version (not sure how it matches up to the 2006 version). Gone are guessing what “4 feet long, 19 inches left” looks like. Now you see the contours of the green and where they break. Very intuitive and much easier, in my opinion. This change alone makes me very happy.
But not all is perfect. I still don’t like that you can add spin to the ball as its flying through the air. That’s bothered me since TW2003. It just doesn’t fit for me. I also wish they put a big Swoosh watermark on the screen and get it over with. Every shot of Tiger has two or three prominent Nike swooshes on full display. We get it! Tiger and Nike are synonymous any more. We don’t need you to shove it down our throats. It sure would be nice if the game was cheaper, though, with all the eyeballs your advertising to. But that’s a different rant.
Overall, I’m very intrigued by TW07. They’ve distilled previous versions of a decent game into a game that is approaching reality. Based on the demo alone, Tiger Woods 07 may be the first 360 game I actually purchase. It was that good.