TIGER WOODS PGA TOUR 06, Electronic Arts
The latest iteration of this benchmark golf franchise has made the game more realistic -- but that's not necessarily a good thing.
Previous versions made the putting game too easy, a flaw that has been addressed in this version. But could the fix be too much?
Players are required to read the green themselves, a process facilitated by a new view that includes a grid over the putting surface. The grid is color-coded depending on the green's slope, and beads run along it to demonstrate the break that the ball might take. Players also must calibrate how hard to hit the ball.
If it sounds complicated and tough, it is.
Other additions include the use of the right joystick, the "shape stick," which now allows the players to determine where exactly the club should strike the ball. For example, aiming at the left side of the ball produces a right-to-left hook.
As a practical matter, however, the shape stick sees little use.
The game also rejiggers the "gamebreaker" concept as a measure of your golfer's mental condition. Hitting several good shots in a row builds momentum you can use to hit an extraordinarily long or accurate shot. The superb "game face" tool, which allows you to create yourself as a cyber-golfer, is mostly unchanged, with the exception of a new voice customization tool -- a fine idea that still needs work.
Still, much of what makes the series great remains intact: the ability to build your golfer's skills, customize his wardrobe and equipment, and play against some of the best golfers on a host of real and imagined courses, including one in New York's Central Park. -- Robert Schlesinger
Win, PlayStation 2, Xbox, GameCube, $49.95
One of the best things about owning one of Apple's Mac computers is the freedom the viral assault on Windows users.
So why would you want to download and use ClamXav, a free virus checker developed for Mac OS X? Primarily so you don't pass along bugs to friends or co-workers.
But you have to be a really good friend and colleague -- and pretty savvy -- to use ClamXav, which assumes a level of expertise more common among systems administrators than average home users.
The interface is simple enough: Just tell it where to scan, and it does.
But many people have no idea where their e-mail program or Internet browsers store the files that could carry viruses. A full hard-drive scan can take hours. And the ClamXav help file offers no suggestions.
In fact, its tone is pretty snippy.
However, a close read is mandatory. ClamXav won't remove infected files unless you designate a quarantine folder. (Cleaning them is not an option.) But the automatic-removal option can also cause trouble.
An infected e-mail can cause ClamXav to move your entire local inbox into quarantine, rendering it inoperable. (Remember: Data backup is always the path to wisdom.) Moving it back, especially if you use Apple's mail client, can cause a severe headache.
The FAQ list warns that the better plan is to delete infected e-mails yourself.
ClamXav lets you schedule virus profile updates and scans of the folders you designate. It also scans removable media upon insertion. On my machine, it found a couple of dozen Trojan spies and e-mail worms that affect only Windows machines. But they were nasty little bugs designed to steal log-in information for prominent banking sites and a worm that evades normal anti-virus scanning. With no known Mac viruses in existence, this program may never save your machine from disaster.
But with it, you can do your part to save civilization. -- Bob Massey
Download from www.clamxav.com; free but donations are accepted.