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Review: Tee off with two solid golf offerings

By Marc Saltzman
Gannett News Service
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For you golf fans who can't make it to the course, you can tee off whenever you have a few spare minutes with two new and relatively inexpensive golf video games: "Tiger Woods PGA Tour 07," now available for the Nintendo Wii, and "Infamous 18," a new fantasy golf game for personal computers.

OK, so a virtual round of golf isn't as gratifying as the real deal, but consider that video games grant you access to courses you normally wouldn't have access to, such as Pebble Beach, and give you a chance to play against masters of the game.

The following is a look at each new offering.

'Tiger Woods PGA Tour 07'

Unlike the other console versions of the latest Tiger Woods golf simulation, which debuted in October, the just-launched Nintendo Wii game lets you hold the motion-sensing Wii controller with two hands as if it were a real club.

To drive the ball a few hundred yards, start with the controller pointing toward the ground and then pull away from the television into your backswing before smacking the imaginary ball forward. The effect is seen on-screen in real-time, measuring your power, direction and spin.

While not perfect -- sometimes the in-game golfer swings or putts before the controller has connected with the "ball" -- it feels a lot more like real golf compared with other video games. Want a practice swing? No problem. Anytime throughout the game you can tap the minus "-" button on the Wii controller for a practice shot from that spot on the course. The game also includes an instructional tutorial.

"Tiger Woods PGA Tour 07" includes multiple single and multiplayer game modes. One mode is the globe-trotting "Tiger Challenge" with 18 championship courses.

It also includes an "Arcade" mode with a handful of fun games, such as "Battle Golf," a kind of match play competition for two players, and "T-I-G-E-R," a unique take on the game "H-O-R-S-E," where you make a shot and your friend must match or beat it to avoid collecting letters.

Unfortunately, there is no online mode for two or more players.

"Tiger Woods PGA Tour 07" offers more than 35 pro players and fantasy golfers, or you can create your own golfer from scratch.

'Infamous 18'

Golf fanatics may have one of the Infamous prints hanging in their home or office, a collection of imaginary golf courses created and painted by Loyal H. "Bud" Chapman.

Now these fantasy golf holes -- ranging from mountains with waterfalls to building tops in New York City to lava-spurting volcanoes -- come to life in AboutGolf's "Infamous 18" for the PC.

From the creators of golf hits such as "Microsoft Golf," "World Tours" and "Greg Norman Ultimate Challenge Golf" comes this new and attractive golf adventure. It includes the fictional 18 holes and two additional courses, an "Infamous 18" screen saver and multiple game types including free "World Play" mode for those who want to connect online with friends, as well as smaller challenges, such as a longest-drive contest.

Chapman, who said, "it's just amazing how close this game comes to re-creating my golf holes," also created four characters in the game, including one of himself and another based on his caddy from many years ago.

Graphically, "Infamous 18" looks great, though the interface could use some work. For instance, it can be tough to know how to toggle the swing types, such as going from an arcade-like button that does all the work for you to the classic three-click swing to account for power and direction.

Another issue: While there's an "Advice" tab that offers audio guidance while playing, there's no tutorial mode or comprehensive help area other than some offline HTML text.

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"Tiger Woods PGA Tour 07" offers more than 35 pro players and fantasy golfers, or you can create your own golfer from scratch.

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