Golf and the Wii's motion-sensing capabilities seem like a match made in heaven. Wii Sports Golf was shallow, but the potential for a fun game was there. Super Swing Golf was plenty deep, but the controls and pacing left something to be desired. Now EA Sports has stepped up to the tee to take a shot at becoming golf's first hole in one on the Wii. Tiger Woods PGA Tour 07 doesn't score an ace, but its accessible controls, large number of courses, and plethora of game modes put it squarely on the green.
The new controls are surprisingly easy to learn.
For the most part, the Wii version of Tiger Woods 07 is a lot like the PlayStation 2 version, though it has a whole-new swing mechanic that replicates a real golf swing and lacks some game modes. Swinging your "club" is very simple. You hold the Wii Remote with both hands and press and hold the B button when you're ready to swing. The power of your swing is determined by how far back your backswing goes, as well as how hard you swing. You can boost your shot's power (up to 10 percent more) by swinging harder. As it is in real golf, your follow-through is very important. Twisting your wrists to the left or right will add a slice or a fade. You'll find that if you have a propensity toward one or the other in real life, you'll probably have it here as well. If you're struggling to keep your shot on the course, an easier difficulty setting lets you hit the ball straight every time. Adding spin to your shot after you've hit the ball is as easy as pressing a direction on the D pad and wiggling the Wii Remote back and forth.
The controls work really well, with a few caveats. Putting is sometimes problematic because you need to perform a practice swing to judge the power level you need and then try and replicate that with your actual swing. It's tough to be consistent, and the motion sensing is rather finicky when putting. There are some issues off the green, too, where sometimes the ball just doesn't go as far as it should, and a shot that reads 100 percent will travel just a fraction of the distance it was supposed to. But these problems are the exception, and for the most part, the game takes the occasionally imprecise controls into account and is very forgiving. Even little things like viewing your landing area and changing clubs can be done with ease while facing the TV or as you prepare to address the ball. If you aren't a fan of the motion-sensing controls, or you just get tired of standing, you can select an alternative control scheme where you swing by pressing down and then up on the Nunchuk's analog stick (which isn't used at all in the default scheme). This works just fine, except that there doesn't appear to be any way to add power to your shot.
The "true aiming" system from the other versions of 07 has been implemented here, and it makes shot selection a less by-the-books affair by replacing the cursor that essentially pinpointed where your shot would land with a large circle that covers a much wider area. If you hit your shot just right, the ball should land somewhere in that circle. Should you miss, however, you're likely to end up in serious trouble. When using golfers with higher levels of skill, the circle doesn't come into play too often, but anyone playing with a new golfer will frequently find themselves questioning if the extra 10 yards of distance on a club is worth the increased size of the landing zone. You can still take huge risks--you're just more likely to pay for them now.
There's certainly no shortage of ways to occupy yourself with Tiger Woods PGA Tour 07. You can select from a number of different match and scoring modes, including stroke play, match play, skins, and alternate shot. New to the series are bloodsome and greensome matches, both of which are team-based best-ball events. After you and your teammate hit your shots in greensome, you get to pick which ball you're going to play; in bloodsome, your opponent will choose which lie you'll use. One-ball is another new game, where you and your opponent share the same ball and alternate shots. The strategy in one-ball lies in trying to set your opponent up with difficult shots so that you're the one left with a makeable putt. This play mode is great for learning how to recover from bad shots, but it can be frustrating to play against the tenacious CPU and is best played against another person. Most of the new events this year are featured in the Tiger Challenge, where you'll travel the world, taking on fictitious golfers and PGA professionals in a series of matches. But if your interests lie in more traditional golf, the PGA Tour season offers plenty of challenge in its 29 multiday events.