A few of days ago we posted our first impressions of Tiger Woods PGA Tour [App Store] from Electronic Arts.  Since then, we've spent more time putting around this latest installment in EA's 11 year old golf franchise and can provide further reactions.

img_0016As mentioned in our previous post, Tiger Woods PGA Tour is a golf game of the realistic, simulation sort as opposed to the more casual golf titles, such as one can readily find on the Nintendo Wii platform.  If realism, as opposed to bouncy music, rainbow colors, and enlarged heads is your thing, then you're in EA's target audience on this one.  (And that's not to say that the more festive variety of golf titles are to be discounted -- we love Gameloft's Let's Golf, for instance.)

Tiger Woods PGA Tour lets you create your own players and customize them through attributes such as sex, skin color, and color and style of attire.  The game tracks deep performance statistics and course records for each player, which can be browsed in the Options area.  In the game's Play Now mode, you can choose to take the role of any of your own characters, or to choose from the on-board big names: Tiger Woods (surprise!), Vijay Singh, Retief Goosen, or Annika Sorenstam.  In this mode, up to four players (you and three AI opponents) compete for top spot on the leaderboard.  There is also a PGA Tour mode where your character strives to emerge the best of the best.

tiger woods screen

Gameplay takes place across seven of the most famous PGA courses in the world -- 120 holes in all: Pebble Beach, St. Andrews, TPC Sawgrass, The K Club, Doral, Fancourt, and TPC Boston.  The various courses, naturally, each have their own, distinct layout and also feature a variety of weather settings, as indicated by the nice looking, animated cloud systems in the sky.

While the courses, as rendered, well convey a "large" feel to the simulated golf experience, the polygon count and texture quality of the various flora, as well as the character models, are rather low.  This was clearly a decision made in order to allow for the impressive framerate and smooth animation (as tested on an iPhone 3G and 2G iPod touch) that adds so greatly to the game's realistic feel.  The end result is a game with nice looking visuals and a quality of motion that is suggestive of a sports TV network rather than a typical mobile golf game, even if the most intricate 3D rendering ever seen on the iPhone is not to be found here.

3488415657_a8b9f77469jpgAnother positive aspect of the game is the audio.  The whole presentation here shines with big studio polish.  The ambient "course sounds" (wind, realistic ball thud, etc.) convey a nice sense of being out on the fairway.  Adding to this, and again bringing to mind a TV sports network, is the voiceover commentary from former pro golfer Sam Torrance and The Golf Channel's Kelly Tilghman.  The interplay and appropriate placement of the many quips from both commentators is well done and adds quite nicely to the game.  It's worth noting that in-game commentary can be harsh and, frankly, annoying when you are just learning the game, however, now that I've hit my stride, I feel that Kelly, Sam, and I are becoming close friends."  If it's too much to bare, the commentary can be optionally disabled.

img_0010One of the most notable features of the game is its swing system.  Golf games on the iPhone, like any other platform, offer widely varying methods of simulating the act of swinging a club to drive the ball down the course.  Getting it "right" is a tall order.  I consider TW's innovative swing system to be the best I've seen on any golf game.  The game presents an onscreen swing meter that's graded with an ascending, marked distance scale.  To swing, the player drags the golf ball at the top of the swing meter downwards to the desired distance marker (the backswing), and then slides it back up through the top of the meter to deliver the swing.  Keeping the golf ball centered on the swing meter during the sliding process delivers a straight and true swing, while adding a bit of curve to the left or right while sliding lends a degree of fade or draw to the ball.  It gives a much more "involved" feeling to the swing process than the standard multi-tap/click scenario and is the most satisfying arrangement I've encountered.  (And, while PC versions of the Tiger Woods franchise offer similar, mouse-based controls, swiping the screen directly takes the mechanic to, really, another level.)  Once the ball is in the air, a ball icon appears at the bottom of the screen.  Swiping the icon repeatedly in any direction adds English to the ball to affect its behavior upon landing.

Well executed actions on the course result in a cash prize accumulation.  The money can be used to take part in PGA events and to enhance various aspects of your player's game in the Equipment section. The prize cash can be used to enhance Power, Power Boost, Drive Control, Impact, Approach, Putting, Recovery, and Spin.

See our extended gameplay video (taken since our "first impressions" post):


[ Full HD version | Low Bandwidth version ]

I am not, in real life, a golf player.  As such, I'm pretty open as far as what makes for a fun game of golf on a computer.  And so, I enjoy playing a few rounds of most any quality golf game.  My favorite of late has been Gameloft's Let's Golf.  How does Tiger Woods PGA Tour compare on my list?  It's, in my opinion, a pretty close call, with a slight lean towards Tiger Woods PGA Tour because of its uncommonly solid swing system.  It would seem that any true golf fan who spends actual time on a fairway will find the realistic Tiger Woods PGA Tour to be a most satisfying mobile golf game, worth the price of admission.

We've come a long way since Mean 18...

Game Details
Name: Tiger Woods PGA Tour (v1.0.0) Price: $9.99 [Buy]
Developer: Electronic Arts
Size: 160 MB
Device: Tested on iPhone 3G, 2G iPod touch
Tiger Woods PGA Tour is that latest installment in an 11-year old franchise and shines with big-studio fit and finish.  Golf fans looking for a simulation-style golf game can't go wrong with what is currently the most realistic golf game in the App Store.

TouchArcade Rating

  • http://www.silentrocco.com Rocco

    Haha, who is he greeting all the time? :) Nobody there besides him :) (in the Video) But looks very polished. Thanks for the review. Although Golf isn't my thing at all.

  • http://www.silentrocco.com Rocco

    Haha, who is he greeting all the time? :) Nobody there besides him :) (in the Video) But looks very polished. Thanks for the review. Although Golf isn't my thing at all.

  • LBG

    looks good, but golf isn't my thing either. Maybe I would buy it if it had a golf cart rally mini game, lol :D

  • LBG

    looks good, but golf isn't my thing either. Maybe I would buy it if it had a golf cart rally mini game, lol :D

  • Dom

    I like Gl Golf deluxe: 23 courses-realistic-score for best rounds kept for each course-Only problem is golf club suspended in air without golfer attached. Also swing feature on TW Golf seems better.

  • Dom

    I like Gl Golf deluxe: 23 courses-realistic-score for best rounds kept for each course-Only problem is golf club suspended in air without golfer attached. Also swing feature on TW Golf seems better.

  • rob

    Sorry if my spelling isn't that great, im Dutch.
    Golf is allso not my game in real life, but Dammmm, this is the mother of all golf games! I can only hope EA will making lots, this kind of (sports)games for Iphone in the future. Thanks EA.

  • rob

    Sorry if my spelling isn't that great, im Dutch.
    Golf is allso not my game in real life, but Dammmm, this is the mother of all golf games! I can only hope EA will making lots, this kind of (sports)games for Iphone in the future. Thanks EA.

  • Reason21

    Great game. I just hope Madden 10 is made with this high of production quality.

  • Reason21

    Great game. I just hope Madden 10 is made with this high of production quality.

  • http://www.2advanced.com Zandog - TA Developers Group C

    Tiger Woods vs. Let's Golf: In brief, I've had a chance to extensively play both EA's Tiger Woods PGA Tour & Let's Golf and in all but two categories does Let's Golf beat out Tiger Woods Golf. In my opinion, Let's Golf has sharper graphics overall, with more detailed textures, higher poly counts and more graphic content per hole than TWG. The game physics win out hands with more accurate, arch, drop and role ball physics and the responds more accordingly the the terrain, where Tiger Woods does not. The courses are more varied in LG with a huge difference in elevations, obstacles and weather conditions, where TWG is fairly flat terrain and doesn't give much in the way for interesting courses. The money counts and winning items in LG also get the nod from me. Although your not being rewarded with specific equipment aside balls, the way the outfits you do win balance out the attributes of your player is intuitive. The only things tat I don't enjoy about LG compared to TWG is the sound and music. LG sounds like it's meant to be a kids game, which doesn't make sense since the touch platforms are catered to adults. Game mechanics I think is dead even, where LG has a more structured swing and aim system, TWG allows for a little bit more tweaking in it's drive and put mechanics, but certainly not enough to give one game the tip of balance.

    LG > TWG 5-1 GG

    • Greg

      Do I sense some bias?
      Having played a fair amount of golf myself, mostly on the world renowned Bandon Dunes (featured in Tiger Woods 07) and Pacific Dunes I think I'm fair to gauge what is real and what isn't.

      Lets golf has somewhat better graphics but not much attempt on reality. It has repetitive audio (way more so than Tiger) and Tiger Woods puts more emphasis on spin and such which allows for a bit of physics that Lets Golf lacks portraying as accuracy. The swing mechanic services a swing motion better. The courses in Let's Golf are unrealistic at best.

      I will say the putting is a little uneven in each game, the ball doesn't glide or travel in Tiger like one would expect on tour as the stimpmeter feels like about 5 feet or so as opposed what one would expect for tour greens to be cut to 8-9 feet. Tiger's putt mechanic allows you to gauge putts more nicely as every game seems to grapple with how to putt. Reading breaks is hard on a screen and without physically being able to approach and gauge from multiple angles easily, Tiger gives you the once use travel that lets you gauge how a ball will move with Caddy suggestions. Its less a crap shoot as you can really master putting. I will say the animation should reflect how hard you hit the ball as the animation is the same if you put 20 yards or 20 inches.

      Now to clarify, I not a Tiger Woods golf fan. I've never owned Tiger Woods previous this version and only rented 07 to play a course that I played prior to opening.

      Notably Tiger woods has more courses, a much much much better tour mode and more modes as well. It is however lacking multiplayer. I'd say the cards fall a lot more towards Tiger for its superior controls, better dynamics, more content and more playback.

  • http://www.2advanced.com Zandog - TA Developers Group CO

    Tiger Woods vs. Let's Golf: In brief, I've had a chance to extensively play both EA's Tiger Woods PGA Tour & Let's Golf and in all but two categories does Let's Golf beat out Tiger Woods Golf. In my opinion, Let's Golf has sharper graphics overall, with more detailed textures, higher poly counts and more graphic content per hole than TWG. The game physics win out hands with more accurate, arch, drop and role ball physics and the responds more accordingly the the terrain, where Tiger Woods does not. The courses are more varied in LG with a huge difference in elevations, obstacles and weather conditions, where TWG is fairly flat terrain and doesn't give much in the way for interesting courses. The money counts and winning items in LG also get the nod from me. Although your not being rewarded with specific equipment aside balls, the way the outfits you do win balance out the attributes of your player is intuitive. The only things tat I don't enjoy about LG compared to TWG is the sound and music. LG sounds like it's meant to be a kids game, which doesn't make sense since the touch platforms are catered to adults. Game mechanics I think is dead even, where LG has a more structured swing and aim system, TWG allows for a little bit more tweaking in it's drive and put mechanics, but certainly not enough to give one game the tip of balance.

    LG > TWG 5-1 GG

    • Greg

      Do I sense some bias?
      Having played a fair amount of golf myself, mostly on the world renowned Bandon Dunes (featured in Tiger Woods 07) and Pacific Dunes I think I'm fair to gauge what is real and what isn't.

      Lets golf has somewhat better graphics but not much attempt on reality. It has repetitive audio (way more so than Tiger) and Tiger Woods puts more emphasis on spin and such which allows for a bit of physics that Lets Golf lacks portraying as accuracy. The swing mechanic services a swing motion better. The courses in Let's Golf are unrealistic at best.

      I will say the putting is a little uneven in each game, the ball doesn't glide or travel in Tiger like one would expect on tour as the stimpmeter feels like about 5 feet or so as opposed what one would expect for tour greens to be cut to 8-9 feet. Tiger's putt mechanic allows you to gauge putts more nicely as every game seems to grapple with how to putt. Reading breaks is hard on a screen and without physically being able to approach and gauge from multiple angles easily, Tiger gives you the once use travel that lets you gauge how a ball will move with Caddy suggestions. Its less a crap shoot as you can really master putting. I will say the animation should reflect how hard you hit the ball as the animation is the same if you put 20 yards or 20 inches.

      Now to clarify, I not a Tiger Woods golf fan. I've never owned Tiger Woods previous this version and only rented 07 to play a course that I played prior to opening.

      Notably Tiger woods has more courses, a much much much better tour mode and more modes as well. It is however lacking multiplayer. I'd say the cards fall a lot more towards Tiger for its superior controls, better dynamics, more content and more playback.

  • http://www.karenandjay.com Jay

    Does this release include the rumored bonus of a disc golf game along with ball golf?

  • http://www.karenandjay.com Jay

    Does this release include the rumored bonus of a disc golf game along with ball golf?

  • wegmans

    the graphics on this game were a huge let down... I just hope the gameplay makes up for it

    • http://www.blakespot.com Blake Patterson

      The low-polygon of the player graphics are more impactful than that of the trees. The tree graphics had to stay low for the animation sequences to be so smooth - and they don't really look to bad. But I am surprised that the player graphics aren't a bit more refined, given that players aren't part of the ball-follow animations after a swing.

      The game looks decent though, visually, to me. Let's Golf is prettier, overall, though. And Let's Golf has the 2nd best swing mechanism of any golf game in the App Store. Golf junkies should own both, really. I do enjoy both.

  • wegmans

    the graphics on this game were a huge let down... I just hope the gameplay makes up for it

    • http://www.blakespot.com Blake Patterson

      The low-polygon of the player graphics are more impactful than that of the trees. The tree graphics had to stay low for the animation sequences to be so smooth - and they don't really look to bad. But I am surprised that the player graphics aren't a bit more refined, given that players aren't part of the ball-follow animations after a swing.

      The game looks decent though, visually, to me. Let's Golf is prettier, overall, though. And Let's Golf has the 2nd best swing mechanism of any golf game in the App Store. Golf junkies should own both, really. I do enjoy both.

  • Icepulse

    I have both, and in the past, I've gone in for Mario and Hot Shots over Tiger, but in this case, EA has really outdone itself.

    I was 1 yard from the green and about 9 yards from the pin (in TW). Instead of the recommended pitching wedge, I hit shy with a 6 iron. The announcer cried "the bump and run!" as my ball hopped onto the green, 4 yards from the pin, and rolled the last 4 yards, right up to the lip of the cup. It's exactly how I played it. If that's not fun, I don't know what is! What satisfaction. "Lets Golf!" may look amazing, but it would NOT allow me to use that 6 iron in the same situation.

    More control = more skill payoff = more fun, in my book.

    • NotYou

      You guys are really making it hard for me to not buy this.

  • Icepulse

    I have both, and in the past, I've gone in for Mario and Hot Shots over Tiger, but in this case, EA has really outdone itself.

    I was 1 yard from the green and about 9 yards from the pin (in TW). Instead of the recommended pitching wedge, I hit shy with a 6 iron. The announcer cried "the bump and run!" as my ball hopped onto the green, 4 yards from the pin, and rolled the last 4 yards, right up to the lip of the cup. It's exactly how I played it. If that's not fun, I don't know what is! What satisfaction. "Lets Golf!" may look amazing, but it would NOT allow me to use that 6 iron in the same situation.

    More control = more skill payoff = more fun, in my book.

    • NotYou

      You guys are really making it hard for me to not buy this.

  • frosty

    the way i see it... if you enjoyed Let's Golf, played it to death and unlocked most of the prizes, then this has to be your next purchase... it doesn't have to be one or the other. enjoy both.

  • frosty

    the way i see it... if you enjoyed Let's Golf, played it to death and unlocked most of the prizes, then this has to be your next purchase... it doesn't have to be one or the other. enjoy both.

  • http://toucharcade.com/2009/03/04/upcoming-space-trader-game-based-on-quake-3-engine/#comments alex

    Could someone describe the tour made???
    Is it like on a home system with tournaments and trying to win them for money and better clubs etc.? Also if this is true do you "qualify" for others by winning???

    Thanks,
    Alex

  • http://toucharcade.com/2009/03/04/upcoming-space-trader-game-based-on-quake-3-engine/#comments alex

    Could someone describe the tour made???
    Is it like on a home system with tournaments and trying to win them for money and better clubs etc.? Also if this is true do you "qualify" for others by winning???

    Thanks,
    Alex

  • greenchile505

    Is there a camera setting for "do not follow ball through the air"? When I play real golf I enjoy watching the flight of the ball. I also like the delayed gratification of finding my ball long after it came to a stop. Flying through the air with the ball and watching it roll to a stop is not realistic. Everything else in the game is trying to be realistic so can we have a static camera?

  • greenchile505

    Is there a camera setting for "do not follow ball through the air"? When I play real golf I enjoy watching the flight of the ball. I also like the delayed gratification of finding my ball long after it came to a stop. Flying through the air with the ball and watching it roll to a stop is not realistic. Everything else in the game is trying to be realistic so can we have a static camera?

  • Dave

    Wish they had a demo/lite version. If it was any good, I'd buy it if I had the chance to demo it. As it is I'll wait. TWG for the Wii with Wiimotion Plus is looking pretty sweet tho. that'll I'll likely be buying on day one along with the Grand Slam Tennis.

  • Dave

    Wish they had a demo/lite version. If it was any good, I'd buy it if I had the chance to demo it. As it is I'll wait. TWG for the Wii with Wiimotion Plus is looking pretty sweet tho. that'll I'll likely be buying on day one along with the Grand Slam Tennis.

  • Dave

    Btw, can anyone post some screen of Pebble? Every course looks so bland...are they all this way?

  • Timothy

    Tiger woods 09 for the Wii is very realistic. Try playing it first. It is the most realistic on the market but not the best looking. Too much bias in your review.

  • Dave

    Btw, can anyone post some screen of Pebble? Every course looks so bland...are they all this way?

  • Timothy

    Tiger woods 09 for the Wii is very realistic. Try playing it first. It is the most realistic on the market but not the best looking. Too much bias in your review.

  • SteveJ

    The game is fun and probably worth it, but I have to laugh at the articles statement that, "The interplay and appropriate placement of the many quips from both commentators is well done". You're joking, right? 75% of the time what they say seems to have no correlation to what has actually happened. For example, my golfer will shake his head in frustration at a bad shot, and the commentator will say something about how I'm not set up for a money shot. Worse, sometimes both commentators say something and they contradict each other. One person says it's a bad shot, the other says I'm in good position. What? Not to mention that they say the same handful of phrases over and over. The good news is you can turn them off by turning their volume (relative to sound effects) to zero. Unfortunately you're then left with a very sparse presentation. So... while the game is fun (though putting is ludicrously easy), the audio presentation is far from a highlight.

  • SteveJ

    The game is fun and probably worth it, but I have to laugh at the articles statement that, "The interplay and appropriate placement of the many quips from both commentators is well done". You're joking, right? 75% of the time what they say seems to have no correlation to what has actually happened. For example, my golfer will shake his head in frustration at a bad shot, and the commentator will say something about how I'm not set up for a money shot. Worse, sometimes both commentators say something and they contradict each other. One person says it's a bad shot, the other says I'm in good position. What? Not to mention that they say the same handful of phrases over and over. The good news is you can turn them off by turning their volume (relative to sound effects) to zero. Unfortunately you're then left with a very sparse presentation. So... while the game is fun (though putting is ludicrously easy), the audio presentation is far from a highlight.

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  • Asherspapa

    While I give EA' Tiger Woods' PGA Tour for the iPhone high marks for the interface and the playability, there are some serious problems with the game. First and foremost, it's far too easy. Once you accumulate enough money to buy up to the maximum levels in each of the skill attributes (which I did within a day), you can routinely drive over 400 yards (with the power boost) and sink virtually every putt. As a result, I usually score in the 50's...with the lowest record to date a 51 at St. Andrews (with a bogey). Maybe the scorekeeper can't deal with such low scores because in a recent tournament at St. Andrew's, I scored 55 (-17), 51 (-21) and 52 (-20) through three rounds (58 under par), but when I started the fourth, I had 25 strokes added--my score registering as -35. Of course, hitting a 53 (-19) in round four still gave me an "official" 54 under (which should have been 77 under), a 40 stroke margin over the field.

    While scores like that may be good for the ego, they destroy any competitive aspect of the game.

    Good game, but EA needs to toughen it up...reduce the driving distances (I can drive more than half of the St. Andrews Par 4's), and make putting more sensitive.

  • Asherspapa

    While I give EA' Tiger Woods' PGA Tour for the iPhone high marks for the interface and the playability, there are some serious problems with the game. First and foremost, it's far too easy. Once you accumulate enough money to buy up to the maximum levels in each of the skill attributes (which I did within a day), you can routinely drive over 400 yards (with the power boost) and sink virtually every putt. As a result, I usually score in the 50's...with the lowest record to date a 51 at St. Andrews (with a bogey). Maybe the scorekeeper can't deal with such low scores because in a recent tournament at St. Andrew's, I scored 55 (-17), 51 (-21) and 52 (-20) through three rounds (58 under par), but when I started the fourth, I had 25 strokes added--my score registering as -35. Of course, hitting a 53 (-19) in round four still gave me an "official" 54 under (which should have been 77 under), a 40 stroke margin over the field.

    While scores like that may be good for the ego, they destroy any competitive aspect of the game.

    Good game, but EA needs to toughen it up...reduce the driving distances (I can drive more than half of the St. Andrews Par 4's), and make putting more sensitive.

  • Zak

    My biggest problem is that you too quickly max your player so there is nothing left to spend your winnings on.

    I like the game mechanics, but would love to have seen more reasons to keep playing. Phone to phone gaming would have made this a must have.

  • Zak

    My biggest problem is that you too quickly max your player so there is nothing left to spend your winnings on.

    I like the game mechanics, but would love to have seen more reasons to keep playing. Phone to phone gaming would have made this a must have.

  • Mk

    I could not agree more with asherspapa more. The game is fun but way too easy once you get it. My best score for a single round on a tour is 48 at St. Andrews (24 under). Obviously not reallistic at all with driving / putting performance. Would be curious - what are the absolute lowest scores people got?

  • Mk

    I could not agree more with asherspapa more. The game is fun but way too easy once you get it. My best score for a single round on a tour is 48 at St. Andrews (24 under). Obviously not reallistic at all with driving / putting performance. Would be curious - what are the absolute lowest scores people got?

  • http://free-war.ru video

    Graphic arts are very bad as on me, but think it will be better in course of time!

  • http://free-war.ru video

    Graphic arts are very bad as on me, but think it will be better in course of time!