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Tiger Woods PGA Tour 09

For: Mobile   Also on: PSP

Solid as oak

Product: Tiger Woods PGA Tour 09 | Developer: Babaroga | Publisher: EA Mobile | Format: Mobile | Genre: Sports | Players: 1 | Format: J2ME | File size: 649KB | Version: Europe
Tiger Woods PGA Tour 09 Mobile, thumbnail 1
I'm not being modest when I say that I don't have the genes for golf. My father brought a local golf club to a standstill when I was a kid, attempting to show me the basics of the sport. He instead managed to clear the 15-foot high netting that surrounded the opening drive, with the ball smacking down on the ever-lengthening queue of people waiting their turn.

Claims Direct could have had a field day.

Like father, like son, I too have a pretty awful swing, and am known amongst my friends for taking Crazy Golf's name just that little bit too literally.

Luckily, you don't need any real golfing skill to have a good time in the latest Tiger Woods release from EA. Just as in all the recent outings in the franchise, the 09 edition has a more relaxed take on the sport, with an emphasis placed on strategy rather than your ability when it comes to actually thwacking the ball.

In fact, it's a testament to EA's achievements that Tiger's 2009 mobile tour will feel instantly familiar to anyone who has sampled his home console exploits in recent years. Although just two courses make the initial line-up (Bay Hill in Orlando, plus Surrey's Wentworth), this year's release retains the series' 3D visual flair, with play offering nothing more than a slight refinement on controls rather than any kind of major shake-up. It's the old 'if it ain't broke' mentality, but one that's entirely justified here.

Unlike some of its more studious rivals, Tiger Woods PGA Tour 09 is the kind of golf sim anyone can have a swing at within minutes. With each hole neatly mapped out on the right hand side and the clubs picked for you, your options are limited to the route you want to take (handled either with the D-pad, or the '4' and '8' keys to swing your aim left or right) and the strength of your shots, which is a case of holding down the '5' key, the phone vibrating when you reach the optimum level.

It's this decision to keep it simple that gives Tiger Woods its vast appeal. There's certainly not much of a learning curve, and as such the game has a limited shelf-life, but this straightforward approach makes success solely a question of picking the right path.

Should you risk trying to clear the lake with just one shot, for instance, or would skirting the edge with one or extra two swings be the safer option? Essentially, there's no right or wrong answer, the courses reflecting every player's desire to have their own distinct style.

Nonetheless, with four other golfers also making their way around each of the 18 holes (their record shown after each successful putt), the pressure is always on to find a quicker, smarter route, using the wind direction to your advantage to get to the green well under par.

When on the green, Tiger Woods changes tack somewhat, laying a grid over the grass to show every lump and bump in your way, as well as handily predicting the ball's path (both these aids can be switched off for those who fancy a stiffer test), albeit without the interference of the wind. It's what you do here that often makes of breaks the hole, the balance between over or underplaying a shot never more crucial and potentially costly.

On anything other than 'Amateur' setting, clearing each hole under par is a necessity rather than a bonus, Tiger himself usually leading the way with a score that makes one duff hole the difference between hero and zero.

That said, once you've mastered the courses, it's questionable just how long you'll fancy sparring off against the same competitors time and again. Aside from stripping the game down, essentially flying with the aids switch off, it's difficult to see how anyone with an aptitude for golf could stretch EA's latest out for too long. Keeping things palatable definitely sacrifices real longevity.

Regardless, this is golf for the masses and, like Tiger Woods himself, it appeals to a far wider audience than those who know every club and every stroke known to man. If nothing else, Tiger Woods PGA Tour 09 is the perfect example of how a mobile title can still capture the essence of its more expansive console cousin, without highlighting the relative weakness of its format.

As far as EA's Tiger Woods titles are concerned, such professionalism is pretty much par for the course.
Tiger Woods PGA Tour 09
Reviewer photo
Keith Andrew | 9 April 2009
Though perhaps not as sophisticated as many would like, Tiger Woods manages to retain its universal appeal in this yearly update, delivering a polished and playful experience
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