Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2005 DS Review

With its first Christmas season come and gone, I couldn't help but notice that many developed titles for the Nintendo DS seemed more focused on taking advantage of the touch-screen feature rather than offering substantial gameplay to keep it going as an enjoyable portable device. There were some exceptions to the rule, such as Super Mario DS and Feel the Magic XX/XY, but others, like Spider-Man 2 and Madden NFL 2005, seemed to fall too often into segments that required touch control instead of something a bit more basic. Well, chalk up another victim, as Tiger Woods PGA Tour Golf tries to innovate but fails in so many areas.

Unlike previous games in the series before it, Tiger Woods utilizes a touch screen feature to help you literally draw up your golf swing. A meter comes into play that lets you start on your back swing at a particular power point, and then, after coming back with your club, drawing in a line from downward to upward to complete the swing. This screen also comes into play with club selection and other small items to make sure you're getting the most efficiency from your golf game, but it comes up short.

The fact that you have to draw out your golf swing each time gets tiring, and it's not even entirely accurate, as sometimes you find yourself whiffing a 120-yard shot instead of nailing a 300-plus yarder that Tiger is usually known for. There's some adjusting you can do to get into it, but overall, it becomes frustrating. And even the ability to draw into a backspin makes you put in more effort than it's worth, literally drawing it out.

The putting works a bit better, as it relies more on manual aiming instead of using the touch screen, which works in conjunction with the top screen to give you a layout of where you're at on each hole of your selected course. But putting alone does not a game make, unless, of course, you have some sort of miniature golf product with Tiger Woods slapped on the box.

The general gameplay just fails to come together that smoothly, as it lacks the great analog handling that other versions possess. It's sort of like being given an Atari 2600 controller to handle the car in Gran Turismo instead of the Logitech steering wheel that was built specifically for the game.

The graphics are another thing that probably could have used some help. The menu screens are stoic and rather boring, even if they do clearly point you in the right direction of what modes to select. The animation is okay but the game has a somewhat muddy look, with graphics that fail to innovate or show a smoothed-over approach. The courses manage to vary, and some of the 3-D details are interesting, but the game could have gone a lot better in terms of looks.

The sound fares no better either. The collection of sound samples are generic at best, with small crowd noises (like the groan they make after you miss a simple putt) and the occasional "thwack" you make when striking the ball breaking up the silence. There's some mild music here and there, but it's too bland for its own good, not really packing the kind of variety that made the console versions grandeur. And I miss the commentary.

The game does feature a wide assortment of modes, including a helpful training mode where you can establish your game, and you can create your own golfer to give the game a personal touch. You can also challenge some friends to a round of eighteen, if you're up for it. In the end, however, the whole effort seems to fall flat, lacking any kind of ambition and yet acting rather stubbornly on the little inventiveness it does have. Golf sim fans may want to give Tiger Woods PGA Tour Golf a rent out of curiosity, but those eager for a better game of links might want to pop Mario Golf into their systems instead.

What's Hot: Create-a-golfer allows a personal touch, and there are a variety of modes.

What's Not: It's no Mario Golf.