Tiger Woods PGA Tour Online

Game review by
Chad Sapieha, Common Sense Media
Tiger Woods PGA Tour Online Game Poster Image
Free golf sim offers upgrades, improved access via payments.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

This game promotes the idea of earning abilities, though it does provide players with a loophole by allowing them to buy upgrades. It also encourages friendly multiplayer play and a sense of community.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The game’s role models, if they can be called such, are other people playing online who post text messages in a side window. Since they are real people with real foibles, their influence may range from kind and supportive words to mean-spirited taunts -- though it’s worth adding we encountered very little in the way of rude or obnoxious behavior.

Ease of Play

Both the three-click and true-swing systems are fairly simple to learn and master. Getting better simply becomes a matter of players investing their virtual money to buy swing upgrades and the strategy they bring to the course.

Violence
Sex
Language
Consumerism

This is a “velvet rope” game. You can play for free, but access to many courses, tournaments, and upgrades come with a real world cost in the form of micropayments (green fees, clothes and equipment, and tournament fees ranged from 50 cents to $1.50 at the time of this writing). Monthly and annual memberships provide unlimited access to courses and tournaments. Also, popular golf brands, including Nike and Taylor Made, appear in the pro shop.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Tiger Woods PGA Tour Online is free to play, but that people willing to shell out micropayments for access to extra courses, tournaments, and performance-enhancing equipment may have a more fulfilling experience. Payments are inexpensive -- typically between 50 cents and $1.50 -- but they can add up in a hurry. Parents should also take note that the game facilitates open live chat between all players on a given course. A filter keeps most offensive words at bay, but players could still share personal information with one another. Common Sense Media does not recommend open online play for children under the age of twelve.

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What's it about?

TIGER WOODS PGA TOUR ONLINE, a free web-based golf simulator, looks and feels vaguely like the online modes of boxed Tiger Woods games available for consoles and computers. Players start by creating an avatar, then head online to play a variety of courses and tournaments. Along the way they’ll complete challenges for each course (such as sinking a putt of a certain length) and earn both virtual cash and experience points. The former can be used in the swing trainer to improve your character’s power, touch, and recovery abilities, while the latter affects your online rank. At the time of this writing, one course was free to play each day, with others costing between $1.00 and $1.50 to play. Similarly, some of the tournaments were free and some required paid entry. Clothing and equipment upgrades in the pro shop, some of which offer limited time performance enhancements, could be purchased with virtual cash won through playing or real cash. Monthly and annual memberships that provide unlimited access to tournaments and courses exist as well.

Is it any good?

As free online golf games go, Tiger Woods PGA Tour Online isn’t too shabby. It uses a 3D graphics engine to create beautiful golf environments complete with dynamic cameras and visual aids that show the ball paths of other players. It also offers a surprisingly deep, role-playing game-like system for upgrading your golfer, and provides a wealth of courses to play and daily and weekly tournaments to enter.

What’s more, it’s conceivable that many players could be satisfied with the free experience. You can build up a powerful golfer simply by earning virtual cash while playing and then spending it in the swing trainer. It’s possible to purchase equipment upgrades that provide a shortcut to performance improvements, but they are by no means mandatory to score well. The only thing that might leech away a few of your dollars is the urge to play courses or tournaments other than those that are free each day. However, the free course changes regularly. Assuming you don’t feel the need to play a dozen rounds a day, it ought not to become too repetitive.

Online interaction: Players can chat in a text window with other players and see their balls flying and rolling around the course. The chat system is open to the public. A filtering system is in place to weed out offensive words, but it won’t stop the sharing of personal information. Common Sense Media does not recommend open online play for children under 12 years of age.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about whether the so-called “velvet rope” system in place in this game makes it worthwhile to spend money (the game offers you a velvet rope = free play, but then pulls you into spending by offering tempting upgrades that cost real money). Are the enhancements, which typically last only a set number of rounds, worth it? Did you feel the need to play courses and tournaments to which you didn’t have free access?

  • Families can also discuss whether there is any meaningful difference between open text and open voice chat. Do you feel that one is safer than the other? Is one easier to monitor and/or moderate?

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