EA Mobile continues to port its ultra-popular sports franchises to cellphones with the release Tiger Woods PGA Tour 07. Utilizing a strong PGA license, Tiger 07 features real life golfers and courses, from Pebble Beach to Torrey Pines. But getting the people and places right is only a fraction of the equation in mobile golf. To deliver the sense of realism EA strives for in its console editions of Tiger Woods, the mobile game features a major change for the series that stands to either thrill or annoy.
Tiger 07 has no swing meters. In a desire to mach up with the new-gen editions of the game that rely on analog control rather than clicking marks, EA Mobile removed swing meters. You must now learn to watch the golfer to get an idea of when to release the swing. Hold too briefly and your shot is underpowered. Hold too long and the invisible power percentage will be off. After some time, you'll discern the sweet spot for the clubs and just know when to release to get the shot you want. If you get a good swing, the phone vibrates with approval.
You still get a full map of the hole, wind bearings, and a shot line to help you determine your swing, but the decision to go without meters is daring. We've relied on those meters for years now to decide swing strength and shot accuracy, and now we're nothing more than a babe in the, ahem, woods. At first, I confess that I hated it. Trying to find the sweet spot for a bag full of clubs seemed like asking way too much for the casual mobile gamer. But, after a few courses (not holes -- courses), I got the hang of it. I was driving and putting with a solid degree of accuracy, getting that vibration a good 80-percent of the time. (Wedging out of a sand trap, though, remains a hair-puller.) I'm curious to know who else will enjoy trying to "feel" the swing that doesn't have a paycheck waiting for them at the end of the week.
The rest of the controls, such as draw, fade, and spin, are assigned to number keys. Club selection is assigned to up and down on the d-pad. Before taking your swing, use the mini-map assigned to zero to check out the fairway. When putting, you can toggle the green grid on and off to peek at the contours. At no point did I have any trouble using any of these features.
Other than shaking the swing meters, Tiger 07 delivers what you would expect from mobile golf. As mentioned, the game stars multiple golf personalities from the real circuit, including Tiger Woods and Vijay Singh. Whether you play a three-hole quick game or enter a full tournament, you can take to the expertly recreated courses. (Just out of curiosity, I compared one Pebble Beach hole to the real deal -- matched.) The game comes with Pebble Beach pre-loaded. To get the other courses, you can download them from EA at no extra charge, save for network time. After the monster downloads of the first 3D Madden and Need for Speed that forced me to clear out other games, this move to course downloads is welcome.
Between holes, the game shows you stats of your game thus far, such as your shot count for each hole and overall. I often used this to decide when I might as well just bail and restart a course.
I tested the 3D game on an LG VX8300. The courses look great in al their brilliant greens, browns, and blues. The golfer models are well sized, making it easy to watch the swing animation for shot judgments. After taking a swing, the camera follows the ball in-flight. It's always satisfying to watch a perfect drive soar over the fairway en route to the green.
Calling Tiger Woods PGA Tour 07 wasn't easy -- not in the least. I suspect there will be no middle ground regarding the choice not to use a swing meter, you will either like it or hate it. As I mentioned, I started out hating it profusely. Swing meters aren't broken -- so why fix them? But I slowly came around to EA's thinking behind this. Golfers in the real world don't get swing meters either -- they just have to feel the course and work from there. If you're willing to put in the practice (and Tiger 07 does have a practice mode), you may agree with my almost begrudging appreciation of the new system.