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Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2003
Golf-simulation games were popular when Tiger Woods was no taller than a Steelhead X-14 Iron. They offer you the chance to play the world's best courses, with - or as - some of the world’s best players - in the case of Tiger Woods PGA 2003, a selection of those who swing brassies, mashies and niblicks on the American PGA tour.
Of course, the main man is Tiger Woods - or Eldrick Woods to use his real name. Colin Mongomerie’s PGA Tour just wouldn’t have looked as good on the shelves. However, 3D-generated Tiger can scarily look completely unlike his real self. At times he looks like a cross between Public Enemy’s Chuck D and Roland Gift from the Fine Young Cannibals. Other golfers don't fare much better - Mongomerie has an arse the size of the 18th green at St Andrews.
That aside, the actual gameplay is great fun, and can be as simple or complicated as you want it. There are plenty of clubs (Stiff shaft, anyone?) or balls (Wound Balata or Solid Core, Mr Singh?) to choose from, and a seemingly endless number of ways of connecting them.
The greatest thing about this game is the innovative TrueSwing method of play, which makes using the mouse as close to actually using a club as desktop computing can get. You have to imagine that the mouse is the club. To swing you simply pull the mouse straight back in a smooth motion for the backswing, and then push it forwards through the point at which you began the swing. Pulling the mouse further back increases the backswing and adds power to the stroke. Depending on your mouse movement you can hook or slice or add fade and draw.
The TrueSwing Analyzer shows you your power percentage, how close you came to hitting the ball's sweet-spot at impact, the path of the ball and club swing, and your swing tempo.
There are 18 games modes, from the driving range to a full Career mode where you begin as a rookie with just enough cash for a set of clubs and a bunch of lessons. The eight pro courses include Scotland's majestic St Andrews, the Pebble Beach Golf Links, and Sawgrass for the 132-yard thriller that is the water-plopping 17th hole.
Creating your own golfer is fun - with a fine choice of crazy-check trousers and clashing shirts. Most golfers these days look like businessmen relaxing on a management course. Even more clown leisurewear would have been a bonus. Women golfers get a pretty picture, but sadly their golfer retains a man's face and body.
Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2003 is the Masters of Mac, and indeed PC, games. The choice of courses, clubs and players is impressive. Its genre-altering TrueSwing method makes game-play fluid and intuitive, and the ability to be given lessons and shoot a bucket of balls at the driving range make learning the game easier than most. And the Career mode is a hole-in-one for serious computer golfers. Install it, and you may never make it to the 19th hole ever again.