EA have put a lot of support behind the Nintendo DS, with a number of games available for the system at launch and others in development. Their Tiger Woods series of golf games has become the No.1 golf franchise on consoles, so, it is no surprise that the DS has received a version of the game. Can the use of the stylus as your club make this a much own launch title?
Before you start playing, you'll probably want to create your golfer, giving him a customised appearance. If you are accustomed to the player creation tools that are on offer in home console versions of the game, you may well be disappointed with the fairly limited options available to you in this DS version. Unless you are a rather deformed freak, you're unlikely to recreate your real appearance in the game.
On the course the game differentiates itself from the competition by using the console's Touch Screen. The Touch screen is used to display an overhead view of the hole you are playing - moving your stylus around this screen adjusts your aim. Once ready, selecting the Touch Swing icon will bring up the Touch Swing controls. The Touch Screen will change to show a rather strange looking arc. This is how you will play all your strokes - when not on the green - and is what will determine if you enjoy the game or not.
'moving your stylus in a continuous motion around the arc... you simulate your golfer's swing'
By moving your stylus in a continuous motion around the arc, from right to left, you simulate your golfer's swing. The starting position of the stylus determines the shot strength, and the final follow-through decides how true you will strike the ball. Initially, this seems like a novel and enjoyable way to play the game, making good use of the Touch Screen, but problems soon start to materialise. Performing a solid powerful swing is exceedingly hard, especially when not resting the DS on something. Mistakes are all too easy to make, are shot strength is difficult to judge, making this a very frustrating handheld experience.
Putting is a much more straight-forward affair, with you aiming according to what your caddy tells you. A grid is used to help you judge distances, but this is nothing compared to the skills required to judge puts in more sophisticated golf games; even PGA Tour Golf on the MegaDrive had a more advanced - and more enjoyable - putting system. Had the game adopted a more traditional three-click control method, this would have been a much more enjoyable game.
The main game mode is the Legends Tour. Here you will take your player through a series of challenges comprised of Match, Stroke, Skins and Tournament play, over eight courses and with eight tour pros. Once you have proved yourself as a promising rookie you will open the Pro and then the Legend tour. Each challenge will provide you with money, which you can spend to increase your player's attributes. The more money you win, the better your player will become, and this is essential to progress to the harder tours. If you don't fancy taking part in one of the tours you can play a standalone round or play with up to three friends wirelessly, but they will each require a copy if the game.
Visually, the game is a bit rough; character models are basic and animations are a tad stiff. The courses themselves lack any complicated scenery, are pretty basic geometry wise and make use of some fairly simple textures, giving the game a pretty dated look, but not looking out of place when compared to the DS's other 3D titles. This is no Tiger Woods on the PlayStation 2, but it is functional. Sounds are adequate; birds chirp, waves crash and balls are hit, but don't expect anything spectacular, this is a golf game after-all.
With little competition on the DS, Tiger Woods PGA Tour is the only Golf Game available to you if you fancy a round on the move. This isn't such a bad thing, as the game is enjoyable; just don't expect the depth or level of control found in home console or PC versions of the game. Developers are bound to try and use the Touch Screen to give their games a unique selling point, but in this case, the stylus control prevents the game from being something we can recommend to everyone.