November 29, 2001
Overall score:  84 PGA Tour 98 (PSX)
by EA Sports  Reviewed by: Mark Skorupa

ScreenshotYou would think that with the overwhelming popularity of golf titles on the PC, the Playstation would have tons of companies scrambling to get a share of the console pie. Oddly enough, golf has been very under-represented. In fact, we golf fans will make plenty of concessions simply because there are just no other choices for the Playstation platform. The one company that has cornered the golf market is EA Sports with their PGA Tour franchise. This is the second release of the series on the PSX and it still remains virtually unchallenged.

Even though this game has no competition to speak of, the developers did not sit back and make a rehash of last year's title. This game has been beefed up to where it can almost stand up against the big boys on the PC side. The improvements include 5 playable courses, 8 different gameplay modes and good old Ernie Johnson Jr. (of TNT fame) doing the commentary. All in all, this is one packed golf game.

PGA Tour 98 takes home the award for golf title of the year. Sure, it is really the only golf title that was released this year but it was definitely the best. I am really impressed with the development team for not throwing in the towel and settling for something less because they knew they would be virtually uncontested. So, let me save you a lot of time. If you want a golf game, go buy PGA Tour 98. It is that simple.

Let's just pretend for a moment that there are a number of other golf games available for you to choose from. PGA Tour 98's main selling point is the number of different games you can play. Realistically, you could play this game for 2 days straight before trying all of the different modes: practice, stroke play, shoot-out, skins game, foursomes match, four-ball match, skills challenge, and tournament. I personally spent the majority of my time playing the stroke play and the tournament. These are the traditional golf games that aim for getting lowest score. The other games are better when playing against a human opponent because as we all know, the computer is not nearly as fun to taunt as an actually person.

Screenshot Another big selling point of this game is the number of courses available. You have the choice of 5 big time courses to shoot it out on. You can play Pebble Beach, TPC at Sawgrass, Colonial Country Club, Bay Hill Club, or TPC of Scottsdale. I have no idea if these courses have been accurately represented since I have never been to any of the courses. It really does not matter to me personally if they are accurate or not because I just liked the variety on the courses. It gets real tiring playing the same 18 holes on other golf games (mainly PC). The addition of the extra courses adds many hours on to the life of this game.

One of the cries from PC golfers was that the games were too restrictive. You were stuck with a lot of different things that you could not change. Not the case here. If you can think of it, it is most likely available to change or customize. You can set this game up to match your personal preferences and then these preferences will be saved to a memory card. Every time you load the game, your settings will be restored. Changing clubs, views, and shot attributes are all very easy to accomplish and it should take no time at all to get used to the hitting the ball.

Since this game is called PGA Tour, it is endorsed by the Professional Golfers Association. This means that you can play as real golfers. There are a bunch to choose from and the top names are all here, except for Tiger Woods. That means you can step into the shoes of Tom Kite and play 18 holes at Pebble Beach or play the back 9 at Bay Hill as Davis Love III. If you don't care for any of the golfers available, you can create your own player and test your skill as yourself.

ScreenshotThere are a few nagging little problems with this game. None are too serious but I still feel the need mention them. The first problem is the load times. They have been improved from last year's version, but you still are frequently waiting several minutes. Between each hole, you will find yourself waiting for the next hole to load. I guess golf is a game of patiences, but I don't want to practice this in my video game.

The other thing that really annoyed me was that your golfers animation did not follow the swing meter. I really like watching my golfer pull back the club and swing while I am controlling the swing meter. Instead, what happened was you would go through the swing process, wait a second, and then the golfer would animate his swing. What is up with that? I want a real-time swing! Unfortunately, one of the only things that you were not able to customize was this. Sure, it is nit-picky, but since this is the only golf game around, I have to pick on it some.

The best way to describe the graphics for this game is acceptable. They will not knock you off your feet nor will they make you think you're purchased a sub-par game. They just go out and get the job done. The pro golfers do bear a striking resemblance to their real life counter parts in appearance, size, and stature. Other than, there is really nothing extrordinary.

Bottom Line:
Like I have said before, this is the golf game of the year for PSX. If there were some competition, it would still be a good game that golf fans should enjoy. For some reason, I find golf sims very addicting and this game was no exception. Even beginners should not have any problems getting the feel for swinging the club although it does take some practice and quick reflexes to master the game. All in all, this is a good game that, once it loads, you should enjoy.

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