Did you know that Electronic Arts is averaging a new Tiger Woods game for the PSP about every eight months? With that sort of frequency, you wouldn't expect the games to be vastly different from one another, and you'd be right. Tiger Woods 08 is a solid game, but it's almost identical to its predecessor.
Very little has changed with regard to how the game plays--it's the Tiger Woods you've come to know and love. The analog swing feels a bit more forgiving and works well, though the ball will sometimes inexplicably travel farther or less than it should. The power meter on the side of the screen moves so fast that it's of no help when hitting a shot with less than 100 percent. Your short game and putting are most affected by this, and while it's a frustrating issue, it doesn't ruin the game even if it can cost you four or five strokes a round. Neither the three-click swing system nor the new putt preview from other versions of the game made it to the PSP version. The new confidence meter that fills or empties based on what kind of shot you just hit is certainly prevalent, popping up after every single shot, but the bonuses it gives don't seem to have much of an effect on how the game plays. But that's a good thing because it's not very consistent in how it gives points. Missing a 60 foot putt by a foot shouldn't hurt your confidence as much as an errant drive. If anything, it should boost your confidence--just like chipping the ball to within a few inches of the hole from 20 feet away.
Tiger Woods 08 lets you wash your balls if your confidence is low. Awesome.
There are now 14 courses (up from 12 in 07) but still just 11 professional golfers--just like last year. In addition to last year's putting and driving minigames, there are new minigames called "mental games." These lame minigames are an absurd addition to the package. They're supposed to pop up in tense moments when you're playing a normal round of golf, but their appearance seems random. If you've just hit a terrible shot or you're getting ready to putt for a win, the game will give you a chance to compose yourself by playing a minigame where you clean your ball, pick up leaves and sticks to clear the area around your ball, tap the X button to lower your heart rate, or hit one ball against another to somehow drown out the crowd noise. Yeah, they're as dumb as they sound. You can still go online for a round--which is a great feature--if there was ever anyone online to play.
Tiger 08's visuals are crisp and clear on the PSP's small screen, just as they were in the previous game. And the one before that. And the one before that too. The golfers look fine, as do the courses. It can be difficult reading the slope of the greens because the dots are so tiny, but that's the only time the graphics affect the gameplay. The commentary is sparse and in need of an upgrade, but you can import your own MP3 files into the game, which is nice.
No matter how much you love Tiger Woods professionally or personally, there's no reason to own four Tiger Woods games for the PSP. Even Tiger's stalkers think that's going overboard. If you've never owned a Tiger Woods game for the PSP or you haven't bought one since the first release, then 08 is worth a purchase. Otherwise, save your money and hope there's a reason to buy Tiger 09.