Review: Tiger Woods PGA Tour 14 (PS3)
Title: Tiger Woods PGA Tour 14
Format: Blu-ray Disc / PlayStation Network Download (5.8 GB)
Release Date: March 26, 2013
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Developer: EA Tiburon
Price: $59.99 / $69.99 (Masters Historic Edition)
ESRB Rating: E
Tiger Woods PGA Tour 14 is also available on Xbox 360.
The PS3 version of the Tiger Woods PGA Tour 14 Masters Historic Edition was used for this review.
The audio review for this game is available on Episode 313 of the podcast.
If you’ve owned a Tiger Woods game in the past few years, expect more of the same out of the gameplay itself… for the most part anyway. While the game maintains the status quo in a number of areas (and not in a good way), there are some key additions that make this year’s version of the game stand out.
The physics have been upgraded and you’re given a number of options when creating a golfer including the choice of a Power or Control player. The choices you make will affect how the game plays to a certain extent and the new Advanced Shot Shaping mechanic makes using the Draw and Fade an experience to be mastered all over again. The Move controls have also been refined and really are a viable option this time around.
With twenty courses available on the standard edition disc and an additional five added to the Masters Historic Edition, you’ve certainly got plenty to choose from. Of course, this won’t be enough if you plan on playing through a career on the PGA Tour. The specter of seemingly unnecessary DLC rears its ugly head again in this year’s edition asking you to buy an additional nine+ courses to have the complete Tour experience. It’s actually nine courses for a total of $37 if you own the Historic Edition and about twelve for around $50 if you only have the standard edition. These would be the bare minimum to complete every course on the PGA Tour. However, there are still a number of courses available over and above those which could easily double the cost of the game if you want everything.
It’s a shame to see the practice continue but if people didn’t keep buying them, EA would have no reason to keep charging for them. This year marks the first legitimate reason to ante up for these extra courses as this is the first time you’ll be able to play all four major championships which include The Masters, The PGA Championship, The US Open and the Open Championship. This is also the first time you’ll be able to enter and compete in the LPGA Tour. You’ve been given the opportunity to create female golfers for years, but now you’ll actually be able to have them compete in their own career path against other women golfers.
Coins are back, like them or not. They can be used to level up your created golfer and also to purchase Pin Packs. The pins can be added to your bag tag at the beginning of each round to give a stat boost to your golfer. You’ll have a handful of pins when you start the game (first taste is free, kid), but after that you’ll need to purchase Pin Packs. If you can earn them another way I haven’t found it yet at about twenty hours in. You’ll slowly earn coins as you play rounds of golf, a little too slowly, which is designed to encourage you to join a Country Club. When you’re in a Country Club with many members playing you’ll earn coins at a quicker rate. Of course, you can always buy coin packs for real money in the built in Pro Shop (connected to the PlayStation Store), but where’s the fun in that?
A really cool addition to the game is the “Legends of the Majors”. In this mode, you’ll be able to play through 62 different historic situations across six major eras of golf. The historical accuracy extends down to the names of the clubs and the power available to you as a player. You’ll be using your Baffing Spoon, Jigger, Brassie and more while competing as Bobby Jones, Arnold Palmer, Sam Sneed and others from 1873 to today. It’s a great idea that’s pretty well executed, giving fans of the sport a treat and newcomers a pretty decent historical overview of the greats of the game.
The “Time of Day” feature and the lighting are easily the biggest upgrades here. You can tee off in the morning, Noon, afternoon, late afternoon or night. The cool thing about this is that the sun will move through the sky as you play based on the time of day giving much more variety to the feel of the courses. Weather and wind can also be factored in, as in previous incarnations of the game and both will affect the way each of the courses looks and plays.
Playing through the Legends section of the game, the early matches of the 1800′s and early 1900′s are given a sweet, old timey, sepia tone. The cutaways with the EA Sports logo also becomes period appropriate, making it look like a silent movie in the early eras. It’s really nice to see that some genuine thought was put into all of this.
The player animations look better and each has their own unique style but, of course, a number of things were ignored again. While there appears to be more variety in the crowds, you’ll still see too many of them acting out the same perfectly synchronized animation, detracting from the realism on the course. The trees also have a number of issues where they’ll actually change completely as your ball flies past them. Your player will stare off into the distance when lining up a two foot putt and once again walk directly forward, waving to the crowd after a tee shot, oblivious to what’s actually in front of them (sometimes a lake or a deep valley). Of course, the camera always cuts away before anything embarrassing happens, but it’s another small fail point that takes away from the realism of the game.
The audio is pretty much standard fare for a Tiger Woods game with the sounds of the golf course faithfully recreated but not really changing from previous years. They did at least give different sounds to the clubs in the earlier eras which was a nice touch.
You’ll still be… treated? to the to the same light jazz and easy going music as in all the recent versions of the game. Unfortunately, the commentary is sorely lacking as it feels like very little work has been done here. Obviously, new dialogue was recorded to cover the new courses and events, but the general commentary from hole to hole gets repetitive and unfunny really quick.
The standard online modes are all here, allowing you to join a quick match or set up your own game, allowing up to three other players to join. The biggest problem I ran into here was in picking the course to play on. When setting up your game, your given more than twenty options including, obviously, the course. Every single course available for the game is listed with no differentiation for courses you own and those you don’t. You won’t even know until you finish picking your options and try to start the game. Only then will you be told that you don’t own the course and you’ll be sent back to the lobby, having to start all over again from scratch. I don’t know if this is just poorly designed or a well thought out procedure designed to frustrate you to the point that you’ll just buy all the courses so you don’t have to deal with the hassle anymore.
Country Clubs are back, allowing you to gather a group of players under one banner to compete with each other and with other Country Clubs for bragging rights and coins. The member limit has been increased to one hundred players per club which is very helpful for communities looking to play together. You also now have specialized Club Chat, allowing you to carry on a private chat with up to eleven club members.
Connected Tournaments are another addition that could be a lot of fun. Essentially allowing up to twenty-four players to play through a course simultaneously. Like the standard online modes, you won’t be waiting for everyone to shoot one by one. Everyone takes their tee shots at the same time and moves from hole to hole as a group. You’ll see white arcs representing each players shot which is wild but can get crazy really quick.
Tiger Woods PGA Tour 14 has definitely taken some good steps forward for the franchise with the addition of the LPGA, the four major golf championships, Legends of the Majors and more. Sadly, it’s all tempered a bit by the repetitive commentary, crowd issues and oppressive DLC model the game is built around.
Having played every single game in this series starting with PGA Tour Golf on the Sega Genesis back in 1991, I can easily say that this is by far the best version of the Tiger Woods/PGA Tour franchise that’s ever been made. Unfortunately, those (probably avoidable) nagging issues that have been around for years end up bringing it down a bit.