It's safe to say that EA hasn't done itself any favours with the Xbox 360 launch line-up; at least not with the people that can spot half-baked ports. Just like FIFA, Madden and NBA Live, Tiger Woods PGA Tour 06 on the Xbox 360 simply can't be recommended to current-gen console or PC owners. A lack of courses, missing game modes and a hefty price tag, all combine to make the game an enjoyable, but disappointing next-gen debut. Considering that this could have been the best Tiger game yet, it's very disappointing indeed.
If you've played the latest Tiger game on consoles you'll know what to expect here. The new dual-stick mechanism gives you more control over your shots and freshens up the gameplay slightly for the first time in years. Putting has also been changed, doing away with the all too easy system from previous years, and adopting a system that requires you to make some attempt at reading the green. It's not perfect, but it's a step in the right direction. Sadly, the Gamebreaker that appeared in the current-gen versions of the game has made it to the 360, and it's just as out of place here. Its use often ruins genuine contents between friends, letting you play shots that would otherwise be impossible.
While you can instantly pick up the controls of this 360 version if you've played the game on a console in the past, the game definitely seems trickier. Hitting long, straight shots on the Xbox or PlayStation 2 game was more or less second nature, but here some real concentration is needed, with slight weaknesses in your left stick movement resulting in horribly wayward shots. It's certainly possible to play consistently well, but it's just not a given this time around.
Sadly, the Rivals mode that pitted the player against other players through the ages has been dropped, leaving a fairly simple, but challenging career mode. On starting a game you can create your own player, with enhanced character modelling being used to good effect. There's probably more that could be done to give the player even more customisation options, but this is still one of the best implementations seen in a console video game. From here you'll have to earn your PGA Tour card by taking part in challenges in a four-day event (trickier than it sounds) and then it's time to earn some money in the proper tour, taking part in weekly events.
'This lack of game modes wouldn't be a huge problem if there were plenty of courses in the game, but that's not the case.'
This lack of game modes wouldn't be a huge problem if there were plenty of courses in the game, but that's not the case. Tiger 06 on the Xbox 360 only includes six (Riviera Country Club, Pinehurst No. 2, TPC at Sawgrass, Carnoustie, Turnberry's Alisa Course, and Pebble Beach), with all but one locked from the start. When you compare this with the fourteen that can be found in the other console versions, value for money clearly wasn't a priority for EA. Paying next-gen prices for a game lacking in current-gen features (let alone anything new) simply isn't good enough.
On the upside, all the courses present a hefty challenge and look great. Shadows look particularly good, enhancing the sense of realism when on the tee, fairway or green. Whether as a direct result of the improved lighting or not, the courses appear to undulate more than in previous games, with perceivably more depth than any game in the series' past. There's the odd glitch with the lighting, detail in the environment often pops in late, characters do tend to look a little plastic and the frame rate stutters now and again, but it's still a solid looking next-gen debut for Tiger. While many of the improvements in texture quality really need an HD display to be seen, the improved lighting should be obvious no matter what your TV type.
Adding to the sense of being on the links, plenty of spectators can be seen around the course. Hit a great shot from the tee and they'll start hollering (with the obligatory shout from one man in the crowd being heard above the rest), but hit a shot into them and they'll react, often in bizarre ways. The commentary from Gary McCord and David Feherty still isn't quite up to par with the quality seen in other EA Sports titles, but they do a decent job. The EA Trax on offer are fairly inoffensive, but you've always got the option to listen to your own tunes if you prefer.
Tiger 06 supports online play for up to four players, but it's sadly missing some features that would have made for a more entertaining experience. You've got the usual stroke, match, skins, best ball and four ball game types, plus alternate shot and three-hole mini-games. Your online stats are tracked by the game and you can view leaderboards for a number of game types. The biggest draw to online play is the tournaments, with the game highlighting the golfers of the week, leading money earners and tournament winners. Sadly, the option to play your shot when you're ready, which was found in the PC game, is absent here, meaning that you'll have to wait for others to play their shot first. It's the same in real golf, but this isn't real golf, and this option would have sped up online games quite considerably. I encountered the odd bit of lag here and there, but the game never became unplayable.
Tiger Woods PGA Tour 06 on the Xbox 360 could have been the definitive version of the game. Its increased difficulty, combined with all the features and courses of the previous, games would have made for a great launch title. With only six courses on offer though, and some missing features, it's hard not to feel a little short-changed. If you want to play golf on your 360, Tiger still plays a great game, but don't expect to find a game bursting with content.