Tiger Woods PGA Tour is one of EA Sports’ dedicated yearly outings. It’s also a franchise that has its own host of yearly followers. While certainly not as popular as the Madden series, Tiger Woods manages to pull in ton of purchases from golfers and couch-duffers, alike.
This year’s edition offers up new online modes, new gameplay systems, Kinect functionality and a whole slew of boosters. It’s a game that’s been built with a lot of replay value in mind, and, despite its snags, it delivers a worthy entry into the long running series.
There’s a brand new swing mechanic present in Tiger 13. When I first fired up the game and took to the opening tee box, I’ll admit that I found myself shaking my head in disgust. Gone are the standard meters, adjustments and visual displays. What’s worse, at first glance, the golfer’s body obscures too much of the meter to accurately swing.
Four holes later, it clicked. The swing meter is a visual representation of the club’s swing distance. You can change perspective on it with the press of a button should the environment get in the way of your read. The longer you play and the more used to the swing system you get, it winds up being one of the least obtrusive and most stylistically done swings in virtual golf.
It has its problems, of course. Putting under the new mechanic can be obnoxious as the subtleties of your swing at long distances seem almost ignored. Judging club speed and restraining the desire to overswing during fairway shots is also tough. These problems erode over time, but they don’t completely go away.
The simplicity of the system, however, makes it a winner. It would be nice to choose between a number of swing mechanics, like in Hot Shots Golf for the PS Vita, but the main standard in Tiger 13 works.
When it comes to presentation and atmosphere, Tiger 13 is a mixed bag. Courses are mostly gorgeous, except for the long distance stills of foliage. You’ll love it when the crowd wells up and screams when you take the lead on day four of your shot at the Masters, but you’ll be snapped back to reality as the camera shows the fake supporters in all their cut-out glory.
You know it’s painfully obvious when my wife (not a gamer) walks by the TV and says, “ew, that crowd looks ridiculous.” That’s when I piped up with, “how do you mean?”
“They’re…synchronized,” she offered.
She’s right. The crowd does look terrible. No matter how excited they sound when you perform well on the course, every time you catch a glimpse of their unified sways, awkward jagginess and lame haircuts, you’ll sigh.
We suppose that’s okay. This problem isn’t new, after all. Crowds have been bringing sports games back to virtual reality for years now. It’s just that in a property that does so well to provide a sense of realism, the crowds are such a major fault that they can’t go without at least a mention.
I encountered a ton of audio bugs while playing this game. For the sake of information, I played it on the Xbox 360 without the game installed to my hard drive. The glitches I ran into included random overlapping of course commentary, commentary running with skips and jumps, crowd applause that cuts off without notice and the constant stopping and starting of in-game music once enabled.
As for Kinect functionality, well, this system needs work. This is the first time EA has tried its hand at offering Kinect play in a golf game. That fact is overwhelmingly evident. Voice controls work fine, but grabbing and adjusting distance and stance is an incredible pain. Once everything’s all set, it doesn’t get much better.
First of all, you face the TV directly when swinging. You do not line up and address the ball in the same way the golfer does on screen.
Any novice golfer will explain that the subtleties of one’s swing dictate the impact, distance and precision of a shot. In golf, a small raise of the head, dip of the elbows or twist of the wrist can send a ball soaring into some poor bird’s nest on any given shot. The Kinect, unlike the Wii or PlayStation Move, does not even come close to this level of precision.
For instance, I habitually open my wrists while swinging a club. That means that the face of the club opens up as well, and that usually results in me pushing my shots well off to the right of where I intend. With the Kinect in play here, this fact isn’t measured. With Wii MotionPlus (in earlier releases as there is no Tiger for the Wii this year) or the PlayStation Move, it is.
If it’s traditional, controller-based play you favor, this game is just fine. Moreover, Tiger 13 offers a ton of content to explore both online and off. You’ll play through Tiger’s career (even as a toddler), join a Country Club with friends and build your own name, earn coins and unlock pins.
Ah, the pin system. This one I wasn’t much for. You unlock coins in gameplay. You use the coins to buy pins. You apply pins to your bag clips before play and enjoy boosts. It’s a money making scheme, point blank. When you run out of coins, you can either earn them slowly, or buy them directly with real money. It feels like you’re being worked almost immediately.
Tiger Woods PGA Tour 13 comes down to this: if you’re buying it to make it the sole golf game you enjoy all year, it should live up to your needs. You’ll feel like you’re being conned from time to time as it prods you for coins in order to buy tee times at extra courses; but, if it’s the only game you’re playing, you likely won’t mind as coins will be available. It’s also nice that you can download courses with in-game money instead of spending actual scratch.
If, however, you’re looking for a package that gives you everything in one go straight from the start, you might want to look elsewhere. The learning curve, the boosts and the almost con-artist level coin system make this game hard to love in the short term.
Confused by our rating system? A 7.0 is a commendable score according to the TechnoBuffalo scale. Average games start at 5.0 and slide up or down depending on their quality. Still confused? Read up on our review system here.
We bought Tiger Woods PGA Tour 13 for the Xbox 360 with company funds. We played the game for roughly 10 hours across all modes before starting our review. We did not put in as much time online as we would have liked; our friends, what little we have, haven’t purchased the game yet. *Single Tear*