The results are surprisingly good, particularly with a little work on the hair and facial structure, even if I seemed unable to transform my neck from a weird olive-green colour to the pasty flesh-tone it actually is. The oddest thing about the whole thing is that you can then watch yourself performing the various angry tantrums and smug celebrations in-game, accompanied by an annoying American voice that only makes the whole experience more eerie.
Still, while the new Tiger doesn’t look vastly different from the old one, quite a lot of work has been done on the structure and – more importantly – the controls. The tutorial-led approach of 07 has disappeared, and the game now hits you straight up with the Play Now option and a bewildering list of game-modes, including the basic career mode, the various play modes, arcade and mini-game options and the new online features (which we’ll come back to later). The career mode is, of course, where most of us will be spending most of our time. Once again the idea is to train a novice golfer, ready to take part in PGA tournaments around the world.
The main issue most players are going to find here is that, starting off, you’re simply not good enough to compete on any kind of level pegging. This isn’t just a lack of skill on your part; until you have practiced and worked on your player attributes – shot power, accuracy, putting and the rest – your on-screen self is roughly as much use as my real self would be on a Pro course. You won’t be able to hit the ball as reliably and accurately, or with as much distance, as you will need to keep up with the Pros. You can steadily beef up your skills by trailing behind for a few tournaments in an ignominious fashion, but it’s less depressing to give up on the cups until you’re ready and start playing the Tiger Challenge mode instead.
This has undergone major changes from last time. In Tiger 07, you just played a simple matchplay ladder against a selection of Pros until you were ready to face the Tiger himself. In Tiger 08, the challenges are arranged in a honeycomb of connected events. For the most part, these events offer short one to four hole missions designed to test you in a range of skills. One minute you may be striving to whack the biggest drive, the next you’re engaged in a series of quick chip-and-putt challenges that push your short game that bit farther. You can even take a few holes from Wayne Rooney, moonlighting here with a half-decent long-game and a nasty habit of miraculous recoveries.
This is a big improvement. The quickfire approach and a choice of routes through the grid mean you’re never stuck doing any one thing for too long, and as a result the Tiger Challenge offers an accessible and engaging way into the game. This is good news, because if any game was in need of an accessible way in, Tiger 08 is it.