'Tiger Woods PGA Tour 14' - review

Friday, 12 April 2013 02:22 AM Written by 

(Reviewer’s Note: This review is from the perspective of a golf fan, but newcomer to the EA Sports “Tiger Woods” series)

Going into this review, I knew that the “Tiger Woods” golf franchise was immensely popular in the eyes of golf enthusiast gamers, but I always wondered if it was because of its actual quality or just because it’s the only PGA-licensed golf sim on the market. After spending numerous hours with the game, I discovered that the answer is a combination of both possible reasons. “Tiger Woods PGA Tour 14” is a good golf simulation, but there are a few glaring flaws that hold back the overall experience.


Playing a round in “Tiger 14” totally encapsulates being out on the links on a beautiful summer day. Gorgeous landscapes and chirping birds surround you as you take the first tee, ready to take on the 18 holes ahead of you. The inverse of this is also true, especially after you experience the rage-inducing triple bogey.  Having a total meltdown on a hole, especially one in tournament play, matched the rage levels of my favorite fighting games or FPS. I suppose that’s a testament to the game’s realism. It felt like I was actually playing golf, which for me always includes crippling frustration.


Occasionally, that beautiful environment caused frame rate lag which will ruin a swing without warning. The transition from one stroke to the next seemed to cause stress on my Xbox. It also affected commentator Jim Nantz, whose speech would turn into a garbled mess during the lag.

 


The golf scholar will appreciate “Tiger 14” much more than the casual fan. I imagine that seeing the legendary courses for the first time, and then being able to compete on the virtual recreations, is a real treat for lifelong golf fans. The historian angle goes deeper with the game’s impressive roster, which includes legends like Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, and Gary Player. Each former pro has a skill set that matches their real-life attributes, whether they had a power-focused game or a finesse-based style.


The game’s career mode is the main single player experience, but is one that lacks depth and feels repetitious after a while. You work your way up the amateur ranks until you earn your PGA Tour card. Then it’s time to take on the pros. Once you’re there, there isn’t much to do other than play golf, try to gain entry to The Masters tournament, and try on new clothes that you’ve unlocked. Placing in tournaments earns money, but you don’t actually get any of it to spend on gear, or clubs, or a caddy. The money earned just represents your spot on the money list.


Each season has a list of events at various courses around the world. This brings me to one of my biggest complaints with “Tiger 14”: paid DLC for courses. Upon reaching my career’s second event, I received a message stating that I couldn’t compete in the tournament because I didn’t purchase the course. I had to skip the event entirely and move on to the next one. This occurrence repeated itself in about one out of every four events.

 


I’ve never been one to complain about paid DLC, but not including courses that are a clear part of the career experience surely makes this game feel incomplete. It’s an easy thing to fix, too. For instance, the developers could’ve opted to not include the downloadable courses in the career if the player hasn’t purchased them. Paying $60 for this game should get you a complete career experience that allows you to play every event in a season.


Another gripe with the career mode is its inability to save settings. The default swing setting is set to the left analog stick, but I preferred using the right stick. It wouldn’t save it, and I’d have to change that setting at the start of every round. It may not sound like an annoyance in print, but I was pretty livid after having to change the setting more than a dozen times.


Country Clubs are the main part of online play. You can compete with a group of up to 100 players who all compete on a more manageable leaderboard compared to one of the global variety. EA Tiburon took some notes from “Madden’s” Connected Careers mode and implemented them to “Tiger 14’s” Connected Tournaments. The Connected Tournaments allows members of a country club to compete in a single tournament without forcing everyone to be there at the same time. If other club members played before you, you’ll see a trail of their shot as soon as your shot leaves the tee. This is a really creative way to set up a user-friendly online experience. As in “Madden’s” Connected Careers, my main concern is always in getting a group of people who stick with the game to keep the club active.

 


Legends of the Masters mode is a new addition to the series. Much like “Madden’s” Madden Moments, Legends of the Masters allows you to recreate historical moments throughout golf’s rich history. Again, this is a perk for the golf lovers out there, however if you’re not familiar with golf’s past, it’s unlikely to do much for you. Changing the appearance of the presentation depending on the time period is a nice touch. The screen goes grainy if you’re playing against an old timey opponent, and your golfer’s clothes change too.


Looking back on my experience with “Tiger Woods PGA Tour 14,” I see good ideas that were set into place. But glaring issues like seemingly forced DLC, drops in frame rate, and a stale career experience make me think that the golf sim genre would benefit from some competition. This is an acceptable effort for being the only game of its kind on the market, but PGA golf games could be better.

 

7.25 out of 10

 

Pros:

Spot-on realism

Excellent presentation

 

Cons:

Forced DLC with course packs

Boring career mode

Ocassional frame rate issues

 

 Price   $59.99 
 Platform  Xbox 360 (reviewed), PS3 
 Release Date   3/26/13
 Rating  E for Everyone

 

Join the conversation:

To report inappropriate comments, abuse and/or repeat offenders, please send an email to socialmedia@post-gazette.com and include a link to the article and a copy of the comment. Your report will be reviewed in a timely manner. Thank you.