Review: Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12: The Masters (PS3)

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Title: Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12: The Masters
Format: Blu-ray Disc / PlayStation Network Download (5.4 GB)
Release Date: March 29, 2011
Publisher: Electronic Arts, Inc.
Developer: Tiburon
Price: $59.99 / $69.99 (Collector’s Edition)
ESRB: E
Extras: PlayStation Move Compatible

Gameplay:
Another year, another Tiger Woods. The underlying gameplay is relatively unchanged from last year but there are some differences worth noting. First and foremost is the inclusion of The Augusta National Golf Club and along with it the prestigious Masters Tournament.

When you first start the game, you’re greeted with a stirring video presentation to give you an understanding of the reverence placed on The Masters throughout the world of golf. You’ll jump right in as Tiger on the 18th tee, on the last day of the Tournament, tied for the lead. For better or worse, it doesn’t matter what you do here when swinging the club, Tiger will take three strokes and win the Tournament every time. Pretty exciting stuff, but it’s time to start your own career.

You’ll be asked to create a golfer and this is where the game takes a turn from years past. The biggest downside of the PGA Tour games in the past was creating a new golfer each year and getting dropped right into the PGA Tour with very low attributes. You could slog your way through practice rounds and such, but it was always a chore to get your golfer to the point where they could compete with the pros. This time out, the Career Mode has been revamped to give players a much smoother and more realistic experience.

You’ll start out at a Qualifying Event which you’ll need to pass to be invited onto The Nationwide Tour. There you’ll be competing against other amateurs, building up your attributes and attempting to win tournaments all to get you to the next level. Next, you’ll be invited to Q-School, a qualifying tournament for the PGA Tour. At this point you’ve done pretty much the same as in past games, but when you reach the PGA Tour, you should be ready to compete on much more equal footing. Win or place high enough in a number of PGA Tour events and you’ll be invited to The Masters. It’s really a refreshing change and one that’s been long overdue in the PGA Tour series.

The Caddie is the other big addition this year. Basically, a glorified cheat system, the caddie will give you one or two options for every shot you take, one conservative and one aggressive. If you decide to go with one of his recommendations, your club, stance, grip and amount of fade or draw put on the ball is all pre-determined leaving you to just swing the club.

You can however ignore the caddie and set up your own shot just like previous versions of the game. Why would you want to do that you ask? Well, your caddie isn’t perfect. In fact, your caddie has to go through several rounds on a course with you to learn the course and get better at selecting shots.

If you’ve played the game in the past you should be able to determine whether the shots make sense depending on your lie, distance to the cup and wind. If not, you might want to stay with the conservative shots until you gain a better understanding of how it all works.

Putting in this year’s game seems to have taken a step back unfortunately. It may be a side effect of the new career system and the need for your caddie to learn courses with you, but it seems to be much more frustrating than it should be.

Yes, putting can be one of the most difficult parts of golf, but this is a video game. There are times when your caddie will line you up for a simple shot and it’ll sail 20 feet past the hole. You can’t even trust the line you’re given at times. Pressing L1 will give you a look at where your shot will go. Unfortunately, even that will show you going right into the cup but at times when you hit it, you’ll end up two feet to the right or left. I kept hoping this would get better as my golfer progressed but I haven’t seen much improvement even with all the points I’ve poured into my putting skills.

PlayStation Move controls have been built into the game in a much tighter manner than last year’s patch. I actually found it much easier to nail approach shots as I could judge shorter swings (40%, 65%, etc.) much better with a virtual 7 iron in my hands. Putting, however, is again an exercise in frustration.

Your wrists need to be kept perfectly straight when taking your shot. ANY deviation (rolling your wrists slightly) will result in a shot several feet wide of the cup. Perhaps that’s just part of the realism. Putting requires concentration but in my living room, I’m just trying to make a shot and quickly move on. It’s definitely a huge improvement from last year and I can see myself playing through entire rounds with Move alone if I can just get a handle on the putting.

Along with your standard Quick Play and its dizzying array of options, other modes rounding out the game include Masters Moments which will put you into some of the most famous situations in Masters history. Tiger At The Masters which gives you video of Tiger talking about each of his wins and what he went though.

It then allows you to play as Tiger Woods in each of the years he won with the goal of beating his score for each round. Doing so will unlock more videos where Tiger will walk the course and show you what he did for specific shots and such. It’s really an awesome addition. There’s also Inside Augusta National where you can learn about each hole on the course and then go right out and play them and finally The President’s Cup which is an International tournament that’s been in previous versions as well.

It all sounds pretty good, right? Well there’s a downside this year and it’s a pretty big one. Aside from putting frustrations, the career mode will bring you face to face with one of the most obnoxious developer money grabs since Horse Armor. To understand what goes on here, let me explain that you’ll get 16 courses included on the disc (21 if you buy the Collector’s Edition) and there are currently 18 courses available as DLC.For comparison, the Wii version ships with 25 on the disc and no DLC.

This shouldn’t be a big deal since it’s just DLC and it’s just there if you want it, right? Not quite. When you hit the PGA Tour, after you put in all the time to build up your golfer, you find that within the first few Tournaments you’ll come across a course that you don’t own. You can either buy it immediately or skip it. According to the developers, skipping won’t penalize you in any way, but I disagree. You’ll quickly fall behind on the leaderboards as the virtual golfers you’re competing against will play that course and gain more points in the standings depending on where they finish.

This could have been worked into the coding so that ownership of a course includes it in the Tour while non-ownership will ignore it. That’s not how it’s done here and if you want to add all the DLC you’ll be paying a total of $50 (if you buy them in the cheaper bundles) which nearly doubles the cost of the game. More than a little annoying.

Visuals:
The courses look better than ever with all the nuances of their real life counterparts. Lighting is solid with changing weather patterns giving each course a completely different feel as they go from sunny to overcast.

The caddie fits well in the game coming into the right side of the screen to give you advice before disappearing when you prepare to take your shot. He even changes outfits depending on the tournament or course you’re on and he’s always got your last name across his back just like a caddie would in real life. It’s a nice touch.

The crowds are a bit better than in previous games but there’s still way too much repetition in the models as groups move in unison breaking the illusion. Hitting someone in the crowd with your shot can bring about some different (and funny) animations, but it would be nice if people would try to move out of the way like in real life instead of standing there, feet glued to the ground.

Augusta National really shines though as extra attention was obviously put into the course. Each of the fairways, trees, bunkers lakes and all look beautiful and well worth the upgrade from 11.

Audio:
The audio tends to be solid, but nothing that really stands out. The inclusion of Jim Nantz this year is a welcome addition alongside David Faherty but there tends to be a lot of repetition and it gets tired pretty quick.

The sounds on the course are all as good as ever, with the striking of the ball, hitting out of the sand, birds chirping and such. The only real problem I have here is that crowds can always be heard even when there’s nobody around, especially on challenges and amateur tours.

There’s not much in the way of music, just light, instrumental stuff in the menus and no option for custom soundtracks.

Online/Multiplayer:
Unfortunately, the PlayStation Network has been spotty and then down completely since I’ve been playing the game but I don’t expect any major deviations from years past. When the PSN is back up, I’ll play and update here if necessary.

Conclusion:
Overall, Tiger Woods 12 is a really solid game and well worth the upgrade, more so this year than in any other. The inclusion of The Masters alone makes it all worthwhile. Add in the best career mode in a PGA game yet and you’ve got a real winner on your hands. Unfortunately, the problems with putting and the obnoxious push of the DLC put a real dent in the career mode and knock the score down considerably.

Score:
7.5

Written by Josh Langford

Josh Langford

Josh has been gaming since 1977 starting with the Atari 2600.
He currently owns 25 different consoles and 6 different handhelds (all hooked up and in working condition) including all consoles from the current generation – minus the Switch.

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  • The putting does get better as you and your caddy get course mastery, but the issue I have is that no matter how good your stats in putting are, if you’re on a new course, he still makes the same stupid recommendations that make your puts go way past or way short of the hole. That why I basically ignore his suggestions until I have at least bronze mastery of a course and I putt the way I always used to, by eye and the green grid. Also, even after you’ve mastered a course, the caddy still tends on longer putts to suggest laying up rather than sinking the putt, and I tend to be a more aggressive putter and pick a less curvy line for a straighter, more powerful putt, so I ignore him altogether sometimes.

    • Yeah, I’m at Silver on some courses and he still seems to give me terrible reads at times. It’s definitely something that needs tweaking in next year’s version. If I pick up the DLC though (which I probably will since my brother already did) I’ll probably be skipping next year.

  • Sure is striking to look at judging from the pics in this review!!

  • Anonymous

    I was really hoping to grab a copy as I am in the process of getting rid of my TW 2011 for the Wii through Goozex. This whole DLC thing is upsetting.