Although the year is only a quarter done, 2013 is shaping up to be the year of the tiger. Tiger Woods has a new gold medal girlfriend and has recaptured his spot as the number one ranked golfer in the world. It’s a good place to be for a guy who completely fell from his perch on top of the world a few short years ago.
Like Tiger himself, Tiger Woods PGA Tour 14 is looking to reclaim its spot as a top performer in the sports industry. Aside from the addition of The Masters, the franchise has remained stagnant in recent years. Developer EA Tiburon decided that would not be the case this year. With Tiger now atop the golf rankings again, Tiger Woods PGA Tour 14 adds a host of new features to match the superior talent of its namesake.
There are many ways to play Tiger Woods 14 and the experience can be different each time the game is turned on. From a simple quick match to a virtual history lesson, players have a wealth of options. Most notable, all four Majors are included for the first time in the history of the franchise. While The Masters was already added in Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12: The Masters, the latest installment adds the Open Championship, the U.S. Open and the PGA Championship.
As is par for the course, Tiger Woods 14 includes an extremely rewarding career mode. Gamers create their own custom golfer–who can also be used in all other game modes–and work their way from amateur to PGA Tour legend. Along the way, players earn new equipment and gear to improve both their swing and swag. While this is nothing new for the series, it remains a staple that will keep players teeing off again and again.
New to the golfing sim is the Legends of the Majors mode, which builds on the Legacy Challenge mode introduced last year. The history of professional golf is outlined in the surprisingly extensive mode, which features moments like Jack Nicklaus’ famous putt, Tiger Woods’ infamous fist-pump and everything in between. The mode comes to life in challenges that reflect the time of the event. Every aspect is accurately recreated, from the clubs used to the attire worn. Even members of the gallery are era-specific.
It is fascinating to see how golf has changed through the mode, specifically how players evolved from wearing full suits to sponsor-heavy modern clothing. Unfortunately, licensing issues required select challenges to recreate actions of golf legends using modern golfers. However, the Legends of the Majors mode features enough meat to make the game worth purchasing for any fan of golf.
EA Tiburon took a long, hard look at the swing system for this year’s installment of the franchise. Swinging has undergone some enhancements to give players more control while still providing the simplicity of pick-up-and-play gameplay. Players use the left stick when executing a shot, with things like the power and hook all being adjusted by the tempo of the swing. It sounds easy enough but does have some complexity for the hardcore golfing gamer. Each golfer also has their own swing style, ensuring they are more in tune with their real-life counterparts.
Despite the improved controls, the practice of swinging is mostly a repetitive experience. Swing styles vary with each playable character and it can be difficult to completely master swinging. However, when it comes down to it, swinging merely involves a couple flicks of the left stick. As this is the most used element of the game, players can be lulled into simply flicking the stick and moving on to the next shot.
Putting is kept simple in execution but difficult to get results. Players with a solid understanding of golf should be able to recognize the breaks and hills on the green. However, putting could benefit from the same refined treatment the development team gave the swinging system.
PresentationLegends of the Majors is the premiere mode in Tiger Woods 14 and it has thus been treated so. With events in the game mode taking place from 1873 all the way to modern times, it would not make sense for all the challenges to look the same. Everything from fashions to courses has changed and the mode accurately reflects that. The older game modes get a sepia tone to make it appear like old-time footage. Golfers use both gear and equipment from the specific period of time. Commentary also can be absent in the earlier times.
Speaking of commentary, it is extremely dissatisfying in Tiger Woods 14. The team of Jim Nantz and David Feherty rarely chime in on the action. When they do, it is to make obvious statements even someone unfamiliar with the sport could point out. Despite the fact the team is calling the not-so-intense action of golf, it is understandable to make keep analysis to a minimum. However, one would hope the play-by-play duo would add something to the game.
Overall, Tiger Woods PGA Tour 14 is a rewarding experience that golf fans should be excited for. The extensive Legends of the Majors mode provides a completely new experience with difficult challenges. Combine the new swing system with the addition of legendary courses, players and moments in professional golf history and EA Sports has found a recipe for success. Tiger Woods can add an entertaining video game to his list of accomplishments this year.
A copy of the game was provided to Gaming Illustrated for the purpose of this review.