Just in time for the release of his new game, Tiger Woods ended his drought and won his first PGA Tour Event in 30 months on March 25. The release of Tiger Woods PGA Tour ’13 by Electronic Arts on March 27 doesn’t disappoint either.
Total Swing Control
The biggest and newest feature to the Tiger Woods PGA Tour series is the new swing system. Several different components make up the Total Swing Control system: Swing Tempo, Shot Setup, Strike Meter, and Swing Arc. Swing Tempo is determined by how fast your full motion is. Starting your backspin and following through will determine whether you had an over swing, under swing, or a perfect one. The Shot Setup allows you to place your marker virtually anywhere on the course, depending on what type of shot you want to take, and lets you change your stance and move the ball forwards and backwards, allowing the ball to flop or punch. The all-new Strike Meter allows you to place a marker on the ball which will determine where the club will strike it, and placing the marker on top of or underneath the ball affects the power, spin, and trajectory. Finally, Swing Arc allows you to arc your swing. Using this, you can see how you bring your club back and follow through with it, and if you pull back slightly left or right, it will be off the arc and cause your ball to hook or slice.
Overall, the new Total Swing Control system is designed very well. This is the mode that most serious golfers have been waiting for. However, the game doesn’t explain how to use the new system – it seems as if the developers expected this new control scheme to come naturally to new players. Though the system isn’t difficult to understand, having a tutorial to highlight the changes would have been preferable. Putting can be a little screwy at times, since there is barely any room for error. If you hit it a tad soft or a tad hard, it messes up the break on the ball and can send it off in various directions. Using trial and error to learn a new control scheme isn’t very effective.
In Tiger Woods ’13 a few big-name golfers have been added to last year’s roster, and all the player models have been touched up and look amazing. The new golfers include Ben Crane, Hunter Mahan, Graeme McDowell, Ross Fisher, and Dustin Johnson. Not only can you choose any current pro player, but the option to create a golfer is now available. This can be rewarding in its own right, allowing you to create any look you want. A created player can be used anywhere in the game, including career mode, which is the best use of created players.
The game brought back some classic courses to play on but also added many more – in all, there are 19 new courses. Although some of them are not included in the retail package, many other courses are available as downloadable content. These courses will not disappoint the avid golf fan with their spot-on depictions and graphics. Among the new courses are Crooked Stick Golf Course, The Ocean Course at Kiawah Island, Royal Birkdale, Royal Count Down, Valhalla, and a PGA National Course which is only available in the Collector’s Edition.
Tiger Woods ’13 features many different game modes that will keep golfers in the game for a long time, including the standard Play Now, the new Tiger Legacy Challenge, and a Created Player Challenge.
Clearly, the all-new Tiger Legacy Challenge is the most anticipated mode. Here, as the game states, you “relive Tiger’s most memorable golf accomplishments as he rises from a child prodigy to a golfing legend.” Starting in his toddler years, you play as a little Tiger on the Mike Douglas Show and you have to hit balls into a net and sink a putt. Going through the years, you live out other points in the timeline of Woods’ career. These points include moments when he was a toddler, early years, junior competition, amateur, rookie, and pro years. Also, you relive the Tiger Slam, playing in the 2000 and 2001 championships. At the end of the Tiger’s Legacy Challenge, you pick up as Tiger in the present and continue carving out his career into the future.
This mode is unlike any sports game mode we’ve seen before. It puts you in the shoes of Tiger Woods himself and allows you to experience his life firsthand, making the player realize their true desire and love for the game. Video segments throughout the mode explain how his father, Earl Woods, taught him everything he knew and sometimes snuck Tiger onto the courses he played on. The mode does indeed teach a newcomer how to play the game while giving off a different vibe to most sports games.
As for the Created Player Challenge, it’s what you would expect from a create-a-player mode. You create a player as usual and work your way up the ranks. You start with amateur tours all across the country and then play your way into a sponsorship, gaining experience, equipment, and clothing along the way. On your way to the PGA Tour, you will have to train extensively. Many times, your skills will be matched up against professionals and this part of the game gets very frustrating, since your player doesn’t have enough skill to hang with a pro. Playing perfectly is the key to getting by these “training” sessions.
Tiger Woods ’13 is the first ever sports simulation game to be fully compatible with the Kinect. It tracks every movement you make, making this game the most realistic simulation on any console. With fully integrated motion and voice detection, it feels like you’re actually playing golf (except for all the walking, of course). Before the shots, you can make fine adjustments by holding your hand up to your eyebrow as if you’re looking down the course. This is a nice feature, but if you don’t watch your hands, the sensor will detect that motion and cause the game to act erratically.
The precision of the Kinect is far more sensitive than in the Microsoft Kinect Sports titles, as they mainly judge your golf swing by the speed. Tiger Woods ’13 literally captures even the smallest movements, and this can affect your golf swing. With such a high level of movement detection, players can use this game to analyze their swing. This resource could prove invaluable to golfers looking for professional advice.
Online gameplay can make or break a game, and Tiger Woods ’13 does a nice job with its multiplayer modes. A player can find a match with anyone they wish through the search menu, and the game supports up to 4 players online. While playing a game online, each player can see the path that each player’s ball takes. Things start to get a little hectic when playing with four players, since you will see four different paths on the screen at any given time, and this tends to clutter the screen with information. It’s a small complaint in an otherwise excellent multiplayer experience.
Online Country Clubs are a new feature that lets you create or join a Country Club with other online players. Players can team up with members of their club and play against other clubs in championship matches. This is a nice way to earn coins and downloadable courses quicker while playing with others at the same time.
Boost Pins are added to your bag tag and can be chosen before the start of any match, and these increase the amount of Status Points you earn at the end of the round. A player can choose up to three pins to attach to their tag, and depending on what they are, they will boost an ability. For example, attaching the Accuracy Boost Pin will enhance your accuracy for that round. You only get a certain number of each Boost Pin, but you can purchase more with coins you’ve earned.
Overall, this is has to be the best golfing videogame on the market right now. The new Total Control Swing system is amazing to use once you get the hang of it, and really shows how much goes into the game of golf. Integrating the Kinect is a fun addition and its accuracy is impressive, although it can be temperamental at times, so expect your best play to come from the controller. The graphics are nearly perfect and the character models look amazing. Crowds react to how and where you hit, and the courses look great and match their real-life counterparts. Announcers aren’t engaging, but then neither are the real ones. With the amount of game modes and different areas to play in, this game seems never-ending.
There is room for improvement, such as a stronger putting system and a better tutorial. Putting relies on how well you can control the thumb stick, and leaves little room for mistakes, while explaining game modes and different ways of scoring would be beneficial to newcomers and non-golfers alike. Since a printed manual was not part of the retail offering, users will have to find it in the menu of notifications of the game. Whether you’re a casual or hardcore golfer, this game is a must-own for your collection.
This review is based on a retail copy of the Xbox 360 version of Tiger Woods PGA Tour ’13 by Electronic Arts