Now includes old-timey golf!
I haven’t picked up a real golf club in more than 15 years. Despite actually taking a golf class in high school, I was never very good anyway. Add in the “whole walking through nature for three hours thing,” and my inner couch potato screams to stop.
Additionally, I can’t watch golf on television. I know people who say baseball is boring, but watch the Golf Channel. I just don’t get it.
However, put a controller in my hands, and I’m happy to sit for marathon links sessions, reading greens and pounding the finest golfers on the tour. What can I say? Sports are more interesting to me when I can participate while sitting down.
For the last few years, I’ve really gotten into Tiger Woods PGA Tour. The series’ spot-on controls, variety of courses, and addictive progression sucked away many more hours than I’d like to admit. Tiger Woods PGA Tour 14 continues this tradition with a few excellent additions—and a couple of head-scratching subtractions that keep this year’s installment on par with the last few years.
The addition of the Masters Tournament two years ago was a previous high-water mark for the series. Since then, the developers have struggled to add value and give fans something new. Last year, they tried by adding a mostly forgettable mode where you could play through great moments in Tiger Woods’ career. The mode came off as self-serving and mostly uneventful, and faithful players trudged through it mostly for the coins, XP, and Achievements/Trophies.
This year, that mode’s been replaced with Legends of the Majors. It, too, presents challenges, but this time, they’re specific to significant events going back more than 100 years. This give players a chance to challenge (and play as) some of the biggest names in the history of the sport, including Ben Hogan, Sam Snead, Jack Nicklaus, and Arnold Palmer. The variety of the events, the use of era-specific equipment, and even the camera filters used to frame the scenes in the appropriate time periods all add up to a mode players will really enjoy.
Of course, the meat of the experience is still Career mode. For the first time in any game, all four major tournaments are playable: the PGA Championship, U.S. Open, the Masters, and the Open Championship. Plus, you can choose to play through the LPGA tournament with the inclusion of the Kraft Nabisco Championship, also for the first time. It’s a lot of content to go through, but it’s all well worthwhile.
Other additions to this offering aren’t as substantial, though. The weather system has been upgraded, and it’s now possible to play with real weather and time of day turned on. Fancy a round of night golf? You can do that, too. It’s a small upgrade, but it’s a welcome one nonetheless. Country Clubs have been upgraded to allow up to 100 members, with 10 people able to voice chat at any time while playing in any mode.
There’s also a new Live Golf mode that tracks up to 24 players competing on the course at once. This results in a fireworks-like display of ball tracks bouncing around the screen at any time. I found the result more distracting than anything else, but its inclusion certainly doesn’t detract from the game.
What I do miss, however, are a few of last year’s features.
Last year, EA implemented a method for players to earn course unlocks. It was possible to earn coins, redeem them for play on a DLC course, and then meet certain objectives to unlock that course permanently. It took a lot of effort to unlock courses, but it was possible to do so without dropping cash to buy the DLC.
For some reason, people felt that EA was somehow trying to rip them off. It boggles the mind, but the complaints actually made EA revert back to the tried-and-true pay-for-DLC method. So, while Tiger 14 comes with a record 20 courses (26 in the stellar Masters Historic Edition, including the 1934 Augusta layout), you’ll still have to drop an additional $60 to own them all.
Along with this, courses no longer have objectives to earn bronze, silver, and gold medals. These objectives provided intermittent goals that drove players like me to keep going, and I miss them. Along these same lines, sponsorships are also gone; these allowed players to unlock new equipment and clothing and again gave players intermittent goals to shoot for.
No, losing these two things doesn’t affect the gameplay or even the overall game, but for whatever inexplicable reason, the lack of these goals cut down on my enthusiasm, erasing that “just one more round” feeling.
Tiger Woods PGA Tour 14 offers enough new features to warrant an upgrade, particularly with the golf legends and inclusion of all of the majors. Still, it would be nice if they could’ve made these additions without cannibalizing other features. How about next year EA puts everything together and make Tiger Woods 15 the best golf game ever?
|Developer: EA Tiburon • Publisher: EA Sports • ESRB: E – Everyone • Release Date: 03.26.13|
With a few notable new features—including a first-ever complete set of PGA Tour majors and the inclusion of golf legends like Arnold Palmer and Ben Hogan—Tiger Woods PGA Tour 14 is one of the best incarnations of this long-running series. Unfortunately, the in-game mini-goals, such as earning sponsorships and mastering each course, have been eliminated; while this might not bother some players, those who used these goals as an incentive to keep playing should make note. Overall, this is still a great golf sim.
|The Good||The new Legends of the Majors mode is really fun.|
|The Bad||Where did all of the intermittent goals and sponsorships go?|
|The Ugly||Why am I playing an event in 1922 with 2011 golfers?|
|Tiger Woods PGA Tour 14 is available on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. Primary version reviewed was for Xbox 360.|