Masters Tiger Woods PGA Tour 13 – Sunday at the Masters 
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Guest Writer
April 11, 2012 at 3:30 pm

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By Grant Nicol

Sunday at Augusta National the biggest day in the world’s most famous golf tournament, a day when even the most casual of golf followers is drawn to the screen to watch the drama unfold on the perfect canvas that Augusta National provides. Tiger Woods is a huge part of Masters history, so the coming together of the Tiger Woods PGA tour and The Masters Brand last year was a master stroke, not only had Tiger become less marketable but the franchise had become slightly stale.

This year not only has EA continued to Partner with The Masters they have overhauled the game, packed it with a new game mechanic, new game modes –  and let’s not forget full motion control functionality.

Any good EA Sports overhaul begins with the game mechanic and the control scheme because even with all the shiny touches EA puts into their presentation, a bad or old game mechanic will destroy a sports game. The new Swing mechanic is by far the best new feature in the game, instead of just concentrating on making sure you swing straight through the ball you now have to think about your speed and tempo just as you would have to with a real golf swing. When you first start playing the game the new mechanic might feel a bit shallow being basically pull back and push straight forward with the analogue stick. Once you have spent some time using the new mechanic you will realize there is far more than just flicking the stick.

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The new “tempo” swing really shines in the shorter game, because when you drive the ball you are always going to try and launch it into orbit. Success or failure is determined by the arc of the swing. Once you have lined up your shot the swing arc will give you an indication of how much power needs to go into the shot, but you will still need to control your tempo. You may get your power correct but if you are swing to slowly none of it will be transferred to the ball and you will come up short, swing too fast and you will have far less control off spin and touch when the ball lands, also the faster you swing the more you will be punished for a bad swing.

Another big part of your swing is your stance and how you line up with the ball. You are able to open or close your stance in order to try and draw or fade your shot, as well as deciding where the ball is in your stance. Moving the ball forward will result in extra height if you want to use the wind or need to get over trees moving it back will result in a lower shot if you need to get under tree’s or avoid the wind.

Once you have decided on your shot set and address the ball you can choose how you would like to impact the ball, you simply use the right analogue stick to move the target on the golf ball displayed in the bottom right corner, strike near the top if you want to ball to kick on or near the bottom if you would like to use some spin. The ball impact plays a very important role when you are in the 2nd cut or in a bunker, forget to adjust the impact when in the rough and your club will get snagged resulting in a duffed shot.

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We also finally see the franchise adding Kinect support. When you think about it the sport is almost tailor made for motion controls, but as most experienced Kinect players will know there always seems to be some ghost in the system. When using Kinect you get to bark orders at your caddie just like a professional golfer. The voice controls allow you to ask for clubs or reluctantly ask for advice, you then crouch to set up your shot just like a real golfer would, you can shield your eyes to survey the course, and crouch once again to read the green.

When swinging for big booming drives the Kinect works really well and seems to be rather forgiving; the principle being the same as using the controller, it’s all about the tempo. While the above mention features and the long strokes are well implemented sadly it’s the putting that doesn’t work to well, and as the saying goes drive for show, put for dough, no matter how well you drive and hit your irons, you will never be able to win anything without being able to put properly. The Kinect sensor just doesn’t pick up the subtle actions required for proper putting. One way around the issue is to use the controller just for putting but that kind of takes away from the fun.

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Apart from the usual games modes and career the biggest addition is Tiger Legacy Challenge. In Tiger Legacy Challenge, you follow Tiger from ankle biter to Adulthood replaying some of his greatest moments and also creating new moments that Tiger would like to see happen in the future. The presentation of the game mode is top notch but sadly the game play quickly gets old and the goals for each challenge can be slightly ambiguous, particularly when there is more than one part to the challenge.

Another big addition to the game is the Country Club feature, the Country Club feature is basically just an online community where you are able to join already existing Country Clubs or you can create your own. Once you are a member of a club you will be given a series of objectives to complete online and offline, when you complete the objectives you are awarded coins. You will also be able to take on other Clubs in challenges or full on tournaments, the more challenges and tournaments you win the higher you club status becomes, the higher your status the more coins you will receive when completing club objectives. Everything you do and complete in the game will earn you coins. Coins are used to play to play rounds on extra courses that are online instead of on the disc, unfortunately the rounds are rather expensive and playing enough rounds on an online course to earn gold course mastery so you can play for free is virtually impossible. Thankfully the best courses are already on the disc.

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Tiger Woods PGA tour 13 has once again proved why it is the most enjoyable golf simulation on the market, offering everything that a fan of the sport could ask for – as well as providing pick up and play fun. Sadly the Kinect controls do not really work in the short game and the unique approach to course DLC doesn’t quite work- but for every step backwards the game takes, it makes up for it with an improvement here and tweak there.

The new swing mechanic is superb and really gives you that golfing feel. The career mode is really enjoyable and proves to be incredibly deep, which is an improvement on previous titles; the club house feature makes online play incredibly fun and competitive. Even if Tiger isn’t number 1 anymore, Tiger Woods PGA tour remains at the summit of the video gaming golf rankings.

Scoring

 

Gameplay: 9/10

EA are masters at deciding when their games need new engines, the new swing mechanic is brilliantly done, and it breathes new life into the franchise, if you are a scratch golfer you will be able to spend time master the finer shots in the game, if you are a bit of a hacker you will still be able to just pick the control up and play.

If you were looking at it from the Kinect point of view I guess the score would be lower due to the fact the short game is really buggy, but I did the majority of the review with my controller.

Design and Presentation: 8/10

EA has always put tons of effort into making their game look good not only on the field but in the menu’s as well and Tiger Woods PGA tour 13 is no different the menus flow nicely and on the course the game is truly stunning.

If you picked up The Masters Collector’s Edition (I haven’t even seen a standalone copy in stores) you will find the presentation on The Masters features expertly done from the Practice Facility to the Authentic Green Jacket award ceremony. The presentation of Augusta National itself is on a higher level to the other courses but I don’t think anyone will complain about that as it’s the closest most of us will ever get to playing there.

Value: 7/10

The career mode has been slightly revamped to be deeper than previous titles; the flexibility of the career mode also makes it more enjoyable you can play 1 round tournaments or full 4 round tournaments. The Online is extremely enjoyable because of the addition of the Country Clubs; the ability to play extra courses is a big plus even though it has been done a bit cynically.

In the end it is a golf simulation and it doesn’t really change much, depending on your passion for golf you might be able to spend hours on end playing it or just pick it up for an occasional round.

Overall: 8/10

The new swing mechanic is superb and really gives you that golfing feel. The career mode is really enjoyable and proves to be incredibly deep, which is an improvement on previous titles; the club house feature makes online play incredibly fun and competitive. Even if Tiger isn’t number 1 anymore, Tiger Woods PGA tour remains at the summit of the video gaming golf rankings.

Conclusion

8.0

Tiger Woods PGA Tour 13 was reviewed by Guest Writer