Tiger Woods PGA Tour 14 - PS3 Review
|28/3/2013||EA Games||EA Games||EA Tiburon||1-4||2-24|
Over the years we haven't reviewed too many Tiger Woods PGA Tour titles but that changed in the last couple of years with resident golf-nut and reviewer Mike Allison pushing to review EA's golfing title. This year though I've taken the reigns, much to Mike's disgust, so this year you're getting a review from a much more "casual" golf fan that knows about the sport, watches it on TV, but doesn't play the game, lay bets on it, or follow it fanatically.
|Tiger Woods PGA Tour 14 is a solid game.|
As one would expect there is no "story" in this game. It is, after all, based on a sport where there is limited opportunity to include this, but there are multiple game modes to keep you entertained including an all-new 'Legends of the Majors' mode which is a highlight and will keep you playing for considerable time as well as a returning career mode which allows you to create your own player and take him through the ranks and online tournaments.
After playing this game for a considerable amount of time we can only say that on a gameplay level, technically, this is a very polished effort. Whether you use the Dual Shock 3 controller, or the PlayStation Move, everything here is as accurate as one would expect. The amount of power is determined by the amount of swing on the club and your movement of the controllers analogue stick determines the accuracy. If we have one gripe it's that, when putting it's a little hard to accurately gauge the power required due to the rather small meter that appears near the putter on the greens surface.
|The swing mechanics are pretty solid.|
As mentioned Tiger Woods PGA Tour 14 also supports the PlayStation Move controller. We're quite a fan of Sony's motion controller - it's accuracy is unrivaled and it is perfectly suited to a golf game. Admittedly though, I'm a lot more comfortable playing games sitting on my rear end, so after a couple of rounds of fun, we returned to the Dual Shock 3 instead. Still, if you love the move controller (and don't have a ceiling fan in the way above you), it can be particularly fun to play with friends over.
When it comes to game modes Tiger Woods PGA Tour 14 drops the (apparently) pretty awesome Tiger Legacy mode from Tiger Woods PGA Tour 13 which is disappointing as we would have liked to play that, but the game has retained the ability to play a Career with your own created player, a Quick Match and online matches.
The most fun we had in this game was the 'Legends of the Majors' mode which sees you taking on a series of challenges from the very earliest Major tournaments at the turn of the 20th Century, right up to the modern day (although not so Modern it includes Adam Scott's famous victory a couple of weeks ago). This mode will see you taking on a series of challenges in the four majors including the Masters Tournament, the U.S. Open, the Open Championship and the PGA Championship.
|Jack Nicklaus playing in 1970.|
Challenges may be as simple as dropping a long put, or completing a number of holes without landing in a bunker, or finishing several holes with a certain score. It's fantastic fun and with dozens of events to enter will take some time to complete. In a very cool touch the visuals for each era change - the early 1900s sees the visuals have a sepia tone, while the modern era has a crispness we associate with modern viewing.
With a total of 20 courses, including five brand new ones for Tiger Woods PGA Tour 14 such as Muirfield Village and Oak Hill Country Club, there is no doubt that this is a pretty good valued proposition. It's possible to expand this course list, including Royal Melbourne, at around $7 per additional course via DLC. We didn't do a full count but by our reckoning there's another couple of dozen courses available to download. Also impressive is that the game is filled with legendary players besides Tiger Woods with Bobby Jones, Gary Player, Arnold Palmer, Seve Ballesteros and Jack Nicklaus just a few to make an appearance in this game.
|Legends of the Majors mode is superb.|
Tiger Woods 14 really does burst to life when you get online however with a swag of new options and gameplay available including clubhouses and the ability to play with up to 24 other players in tournaments. As you play the round of golf you will see the ball arcs from all the other players so you can compare your performance to theirs.
We do have a couple of little niggles with the game. The first is that, while it's nice to have no install, the game has enough loading between holes and delays when saving to becoming somewhat annoying, and a small, even optional, install would have alleviated this. Also it would have been nice to have a caddy in the game - at least someone different could have broken up the mundane commentary (more on that soon). Finally while the LPGA is finally included in the game for the Career mode, unless you play that mode, you will hardly notice the LPGA is in the game. Perhaps, much in real life, there isn't as big a focus on the female tournament, but it would have been nice to see EA push this feature in the game a little more.
As a gamer you would expect that this generation of games are maxing out the power of the systems visually, and indeed many titles do, however we can't say that's the case for Tiger Woods PGA Tour 14. Sure the courses look accurate to their real-life counterparts, but they are hardly photo-realistic, and even with next to no "action" on the screen things like the crowds look rather pathetic still while the frame rate can, at times, still be a little choppy. On the flipside the characters, including your own creations, look fantastic while their animations, for the swings, look great too. Menus are slick and the effects such as aging the screen in the "Legends of the Majors" mode is fantastic.
|The legendary Bobby Jones plays a classic match in Tiger Woods PGA Tour 14.|
Perhaps I sound a little too negative on the visuals in this game - they certainly aren't a disaster, but I never really saw that "wow" that I expected from such a long-running and highly commended franchise.
Certainly the biggest area of disappointment revolves around the audio in this game. Admittedly I generally enjoy playing golf games with little background noise and only the ambient background sounds, or even the cheers of the crowds in larger tournaments, but even here that seems somewhat muted. The music is just your generic pedestrian "nice" golf composition you hear on TV, and it's something you'll look to turn off sooner rather than later. Disappointingly, EA don't give you the option to play music directly from your own PS3 Hard Drive. A round of golf to The Prodigy or Daft Punk - I'd be up for that!
Commentary, which is again provided by Jim Nantz and David Feherty, is pretty hit and miss with a lack of excitement, lack of accuracy and lack of flow to what is being said. Some of the comments are simply stupid and just don't match the on course action. This is another area that the development team really need to focus on in future.
|Tiger Woods getting his form back.|
It's not that PGA Tour 14 is a bad game, it's certainly not, but even as someone that hasn't played a golf game for a couple of years this really doesn't stand out as a brilliant game overall. Still, if it's been a couple of years since your last golf outing, and you're not planning to jump to next-generation in the coming months (Assuming there is a Tiger Woods PGA Tour 15 as rumours are growing of a year off for the franchise - and perhaps deservedly so), then you may want to check this game out. Solid, but not essential.
Review By: Dave Warner
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|GRAPHICS||Tiger woods PGA Tour 14 is a good, occasionally great, but never exceptional looking golf game.||76%|
|SOUND||Pretty boring audio, dull commentary and limited music with no option to use your own. Dull.||60%|
|GAMEPLAY||As a golf game it gets the job done, although putting is a bit hit and miss, online adds plenty to the game.||83%|
|VALUE||Quite a few courses, but not the best game modes (eg we wanted Tiger's career). Still, it's decent value.||83%|
|OVERALL||It seems EA are struggling to keep the Tiger Woods franchise fresh although the Legends of the Majors is fantastic. Technically though I expected more from this sports game.||80%|