Tiger Woods PGA Tour 13 review
Golf games aren't going to appeal to everyone. Yea, if you love golf and gaming, you're probably going to pick it up, but it's hard to make a golf game appeal to gamers who could care less about it. That's why it is good to introduce new ideas and ways to play, and Tiger Woods PGA Tour 13 does exactly that.
Tiger Woods PGA Tour 13 featured the embattled Tiger in a more prominent role than before. There is a mode called Tiger's Legacy, where you relive Tiger's most memorable golf moments. You even play as Tiger when he's a toddler. The mode has different chapter of his life and career, and in each chapter are levels where you have to complete a certain challenge. The mode has features voice clips of Tiger talking about those certain moments.
The Legacy mode sounds good in theory, but in reality, it misses its mark. Golf has a hard enough time appealing to gamers due to its slow pacing and lack of excitement; adding a mode where I have to hit three balls into a net as a two-year old doesn't help. It also has you play as future Tiger Woods. You play him towards the end of his career when he is breaking and setting records. It is all made up, of course. Unless Tiger actually wins in this fashion, then EA Sports just did some Nostradamus stuff.
If you own an Xbox 360 with a Kinect, EA Sports is using the tagline “Swing like a pro with Kinect.” Using a combination of your voice and hand swipes, you choose your clubs, aim your shots, and get help from your caddy. Then, when it comes time to take the shot, your body is used to control the actual swing and putting motions. Again, it is great in theory, but flawed in execution. Aiming is like an annoying homework assignment. And navigating menus with Kinect controls will test your patience. Also, if you want two players to play using the Kinect, you still need to have that person log in with a controller.
The actual swinging of the club is fine, but after playing hours with it, I'm still not sure how the Kinect is tracking the accuracy of my swing from the angle they have me stand at. Also, with the Kinect, it feels like you have no control over the power of your swing. Voice commands work half the time — except for trying to ask for a putt preview, because that never works. I think some changes and fine-tuning can make Kinect controls really spectacular, but it just isn't there yet. The best part about the Kinect controls is bringing your hand up to your brow to zoom in.
That being said, the difference between the Kinect and using an actual controller are night and day. When using a controller, the gameplay really opens up and shows its depth. Players can adjust their shot in what seems like limitless ways. Your swing is fully handled with the left analog stick. The tempo and motion at which you move your analog stick will determine the quality of your shot. You get a lot of feedback on your shot, so it's good to always keep on eye on that to keep improving. Also, make use of your two caddies. They give great advice on what club to use, where to aim, and the angle at which to hit the ball. Sometimes one is off, so make sure you utilize both.
One things about Tiger Woods PGA Tour 13 that I'm iffy on is the pins system. Using in game currency, players purchase pins that give boosts to your golfer's ratings for a period of time. They also let you buy individual rounds on PDLC courses. Maybe it was the purist in me, but I didn't care for using the pins to upgrade my golfer. With the Course Mastery, you can unlock unlimited play on PDLC courses, or you can unlock it by collecting all of the pins associated with that course.
The big selling point of online play is the ability to create your own Country Club. When I heard of this mode, I was pumped. Then I found out that I wouldn't be creating my own course. Instead, you choose a logo, colors, and name. Country Clubs are kind of like guilds or clans. You invite your friends to join your Country Club, create custom Tournaments for your club members, compete with them for a Club Championship, and all the while gaining quicker access to PDLC courses. Your club gets bigger, you get more rewards from it, and so on. It's nice in the sense that it adds a sense of community, but it wasn't what I expected. Also, the logos are silly — especially when golf takes itself so seriously.
My favorite part of Tiger Woods PGA Tour 13 is the character creation. The amount of detail you can put into your golfer is amazing. I feel like all games should have this kind of character creation system. We messed around and made the creepiest-looking golfer we possible could, and I think we did a good job.
You can play through a career mode with your golfer, where you play for sponsorships, achieve goals set by your sponsors, earn experience points to level up your abilities (like power, accuracy, putting, etc.). Win tournaments, improve, and work your way up the ranks to the number one golfer in the world. This is by far my favorite mode — I'm a career mode/franchise/dynasty kinda guy. EA Sports has this mode down pat. Combined with their amazing golfer creation, it makes for a really solid single-player experience. Not to mention, you can also outfit your golfer in new kilts, knee-high socks, hats, glasses, gloves, clubs, and shirts that you unlock.
The visuals are nothing to scoff at. You can tell who each golfer is by their faces, which is more than I can say for other sports games, and the courses are vibrant and fun. Weather effects add nice changes to the atmosphere (pun intended) and the lighting of the course as you approach the 18th hole after a long day of golf sets the perfect mood. The sound is your typical golf fare, but the crowd will get way too excited over your bad shots. Maybe they just have low expectations, like me at a real golf course.
Tiger Woods PGA Tour 13 tries to do a lot. While some of the features aren't quite where they should be, the game has more birdies than bogeys. Gamers passionate about golf and fans of the Tiger Woods series will be happy with the detail that went into the Total Swing Control. Is Tiger Woods PGA Tour 13 a hole in one? No, it isn't. But the strength of the character creation, career mode, and all the ways to adjust your shot make Tiger Woods a really good golf game with room for improvement.
[Reviewed on Xbox 360]
You can follow Lance Liebl on Twitter @Lance_GZ