The use of the PlayStation analog joystick is a welcome addition to console golf gameplay. When the stick is pulled back, a number flashes onscreen. If the player times his movement carefully, he can hit the ball at percentages above 110% (Tiger gives his all). Once a power level is set, the swing direction is determined by the direction the analog stick points. If it's straight forward, the shot will go forward; if it's a little off, the ball will slice.
The problem with the swing meter is that it isn't really a meter. If the developer had included some gauge that would enable players to gauge their swing using a simple power bar, the game would be more intuitive. As it stands, the player is forced to guess at swing power quite often.
Despite this little design flaw, the game is extremely playable with the analog meter. The action is also quite fast, which makes the game more enjoyable. Little time is wasted between shots, which dramatically reduces the time it takes to play a full 18-hole course.
While the gameplay is great (and that's why this game's a hit), the graphics are essentially the same as last year. The 3D courses are a little bland, the framerate a touch slow, and the players feel disconnected from the game environment. However, the graphics don't slow the action down, and they don't detract from the experience much at all.
The sound is dramatically improved over last year even though little has been added. It's what was removed that's so important. Gone are the silly guitar riffs and 'extreme' sounds (thank goodness). They've simply been replaced with less. There's less noise, less music, less everything ... and it works!
Add to all these details a wide variety of gameplay modes (nothing really innovative except for the shootout mode that takes four players through a quick three-hole tourney and drops the highest scorer each round), solid ball physics and overall strong presentation. The end result is a golf title that doesn't reach its full potential but is still a fun game to play.