Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2003
First Impressions - Tom is teed off with Tiger’s latest
With Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2002 barely four months old, EA is already prepping the sequel's release across all formats later this year, and Eurogamer was lucky enough to get our hands on a final cut of the PS2 version ahead of its November 22nd release date.
Those of you still rightly enamoured with the 2002 edition will be pleased to learn that Tiger Woods 2003 features more than a handful of new courses, including Torrey Pines (no relation to the country singer, we imagine), Poppy Hills, Spyglass Hill and TPC at Scottsdale, along with several new fantasy courses like Highlander and Rain Forest. In addition, players can head back through each of 2002's courses including Pebble Beach Links, Royal Birkdale and the TPC at Sawgrass. Tiger's Dream 18 also returns, although we're not sure if this is a new course yet or the same as the old one.
Beyond that though, changes are a little thin on the ground. Tiger Woods 2003 is the four-disc DVD edition of Lord of the Rings to 2002's two-disc variant, with subtle changes and a few hours worth of extras. You can import your characters from 2002, players are dressed differently and stats tweaked (Tiger can drive a few yards further, for example), the graphics engine has been handed a few extra polygons and you can now compete for more trophies and trophy balls, but EA has exercised a degree of wisdom in leaving the excellent analogue-stick based control mechanism untouched.
Chip and Run
Sadly, camerawork hasn't improved. The game places a heavy emphasis on spinning the ball in the air to gain extra yards and potentially avoid pitfalls, but as with Tiger Woods 2002, the camera angle on the aerial ball is often less than optimal, and now interspersed with close-ups of the player looking hopefully in the direction of the green. We had hoped that EA might sacrifice the cinematography in favour of something practical.
That said, you can now adjust the camera angle from where your ball lies, looking straight along the ground, over the player's shoulder and high above them, and you can still zoom to the point on the ground where you plan to land the ball in order to gauge the distance and obstacles in your path.
However, this zooming process coupled with the depth-of-field blur effects drew our attention to the awkward new interface. The screen clutter in 2002 was perfectly bearable, but 2003's interface is unkempt, with disagreeable, jagged curved boxes around all the text.
Other background changes to the visual side of things include branches - nay, trees - which sway in the wind in a rather unlikely fashion, and other distractions like hang-gliders and unmoving spectators. We haven't seen our friends the gofers trawling their path through the courses yet, but we're sure they're in there. Elsewhere, there's more greenery surrounding the courses, but it looks out of place against the rendered backgrounds.
The players are where most of the game's graphical grunt has gone this time, with higher polygon counts and much more detail. Faces are now much more realistic, instead of fairly representative as before, and player models are nicely textured and animated.
Apart from that, this is very much the Tiger Woods PGA Tour we remember from earlier this year, and those of you who have only just purchased that will feel a bit ripped off by this marginal update. The new courses are nice and there's probably a bit more depth to it, but unless you've completely vanquished the 2002 edition and have a physical need for more courses, there's little reason to buy this that we can see.
As fans of this year's other edition, we'll bring you a full rundown on what's new and whether we'd still buy it closer to the game's November 22nd release. In the meantime, hold onto your credit cards.