Tiger Woods 13 Reviewed
Tiger Woods had a rough time both in real life and digitally the past few years. Despite this though, his long running game series continues with Tiger Woods PGA Tour ’13. Although considered a spring clean to the game mechanics, it’s starting to prove evident that we don’t need an annualised golf game.
EA Tiburon has taken the core swing mechanics of past games and gutted it, giving us “Total Swing Control”. Clearly the most drastic addition to the franchise we’ve ever seen, the L-stick now controls everything to how a shot behaves based on your actions. Instead of selecting the type of shot and filing up bars on the HUD, everything from tempo to direction dictates your swing, power, draw and fade.
Having each swing behave exactly how your thumb reacts makes for a much more authentic experience for the armchair golfer. No longer are you just hitting it straight and as powerful as possible, it takes proper concentration and skill to hit shots exactly how you want. An arch surrounds your golfer and highlights the appropriate form for your backswing. Pulling back shows real time feedback on your swing, allowing you to learn from your mistakes and straighten up.
The system is complex yet rewarding. The problem is that Tiger Woods ’13 does a terrible job explaining how the systems have changed. In previous games, there would be training exercises and advice on how to master each command but now there’s nothing of the sort. For amateur players, pressing “Y” triggers the caddie who can either suggest or automate recommended shots, though it doesn’t teach you how to naturally progress your abilities. This can make the game frustrating for new comers who want to master the focus and skill required in golf.
Like last year, the career mode returns with The Masters tournament. Earning XP in accordance to your performance and difficulty settings remains rewarding and enjoyable as we’ve come to expect but the new coins and pins system will provide incentive to keep playing.
Equipping pins before each match gives players a boost such as stronger swings or an XP multiplier. Needing to earn coin to buy pins along with only being allowed three equipped at once keeps it from being exploitive, but the decision to include these perks is hard to understand. There’s nothing inherently wrong with the concept, but it seems trivial when you want to develop your created golfer into a legend with determination and effort.
For fans of Tiger, the new Tiger Legacy Challenge takes you through the career of the greatest player in the sport from the age of two, right into the future. Although the attention to detail of playing in Dad’s backyard and the interviews are interesting for the enthusiast, the mode is nothing more than a glorified challenge mode. It can be enjoyable at times, but chipping balls into your mother’s handbag feels no difference to winning your first PGA championship.
Failing some of the more difficult challenges requires restarts that are bogged down with long load times, making it a chore to slog through. What’s worse is that the game does nothing to indicate what might be wrong with your shot in a certain course; you’re just left to your own knowledge. What could have been an enjoyable tribute to the legend instead becomes a mundane mode that highlights that golf can be boring to those not deeply in love with the sport. NBA 2K’s homage to Michael Jordan is an example of a tribute done right, this is how to do it wrong.
Downloadable content returns but with a new price system to attract players to downloadable courses. Earned coins can be spent on gaining access to a new course, meaning you can play DLC without spending real money. Completing challenges unlocks the courses permanently, but it will require a lot of coin to get this good. Renting one round on a downloadable course costs 6000 coin but this amount can take hours to grind up. For players that don’t have the patience, you can pay real money for fake coins, allowing you to quickly rent the courses, that or pay to buy the course out right. The fact that many courses available in the menus are DLC rather than on the disc gives the impression that EA is trying to make their Season Pass promotion the best way to play the game, but it feels like exploitation in the era of online passes and on-disc DLC.
Online Country Clubs are available for online players, allowing you to essentially create golfing clans. Having more people join your club allows for more coin to be generated, as you all collaborate improving your club’s rank by playing consistently. The top players are invited to official EA tournaments to represent their clubs and earn grand prizes, giving incentive for the hardcore fans to get the most out of their experience. Online performance was solid on the EA servers, allowing a quick round on the links with a buddy should be a smooth experience.
Kinect makes its debut in Tiger Woods ’13 but it’s not a smooth control scheme. Navigating on screen menus and setting up shots through gestures is a mess, though the inclusion of voice commands is welcomed to help soften the blow. There’s never a sense of feeling connected to the golfer on screen which makes Kinect a jarring experience. Animations don’t represent what you’re puppeteering and despite trying to purposely screw up some shots, the game seemed to cheat and give you great swings. It’s confusing why a game going for authentic realism would gimmick the mode with the greatest potential but its awkward gimmick.
Tiger Woods ’13 is quite the mixed bag (of golf clubs). The excellent Total Swing Control is the single best improvement to the franchise, accompanied with the Online Country Clubs it provides a great experience for the dedicated golfer. However the game struggles to keep the rest of the game relevant compared to its previous games leaving the whole game to feel like an unnecessary experience. Throw in last generation presentation and an offensive downloadable content strategy; it gives no reason to return to the PGA tour.