Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12: The Masters Review
If you’re a fan of golf games, the one thing you’ve never been able to do is play an official version of Augusta National. EA Sports scored a huge coup this year, bringing the home of The Masters to virtual golfers everywhere in Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12: The Masters.
It’s obvious that the bulk of EA’s time went into recreating Augusta National down to the last blade of grass, and it shows. If you’ve ever seen the Masters on TV, that’s what you can expect to see in the game. It’s that accurate. Once they finished modeling the course, they went about integrating it into the game.
Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12: The Masters (PS3 [Reviewed], PC, XBox360)
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Release Date: February 15, 2011
The integration of the Masters into the game is total, as even the career mode revolves around it. Renamed ‘Road to the Masters,’ the career mode tasks your golfer with starting out as an amatuer and working his way through the Nationwide Tour, Q School, the PGA Tour, and once you’ve qualified, The Masters itself.
There are a number of tournaments to participate in, and each one features a pre-tournament head-to-head match, as well as a sponsor challenge. Completing the sponsor challenge unlocks new equipment for your golfer to use. All in all, the career mode is very enjoyable and very solid, with one caveat. The DLC integration is atrocious.
The XBox 360 version we played included 16 courses on the disc, with an additional 20 available as DLC. On a positive note, the career mode finally uses the courses you pick up as DLC. THe downside is how clunky the integration is. If you select an event that you don’t own the course for, the game kicks you to the store to purchase it. While that sounds OK, in practice it feels very cheap. A better solution would be to have those events unavailable to players who haven’t purchased the courses, or have them placed in a separate category. As it is, it has the feel of a money grab.
Outside of the career mode, you can still see the influence that The Masters has on this title. A ‘Masters Moments’ mode has you attempting to recreate famous shots from past Masters tournaments, and another mode has you trying to match Tiger Woods’ scores round for round in each of his Masters wins.
All of this Masters content is topped off by adding the voice of The Masters himself, JIm Nantz. Having Nantz’s commentary in the background is a huge part of the game, as anyone who’s watched the Masters immediately associates his voice with the tournament. He’s joined by the sarcastic David Feherty. As usual, the commentary gets repetitive after you’ve played for a while, but it’s not as bad as it could be.
My biggest complaint with the whole Masters package is how underwhelming it is to actually win the Masters. Considering the focus the game places on the tournament, making the winning putt elicits only a standard “Nice par!” from the commentators. It just seems anticlimatic.
Mechanically, not much has changed from last year’s iteration. Gameplay feels very similar with one major exception: the addition of a personal caddie. Each shot you take will have your caddie examining your options. In some cases, he’ll leave setting up the shot to you, but most of the time he’ll offer up a safe shot and a more risky option. His options will align your golfer, take into account wind, elevation, and other factors, and tell you how hard to hit the shot. He doesn’t always offer up the perfect shot, but if you can make the swings he suggests, you’ll manage a pretty decent round of golf.
The caddie serves as a well-integrated help system, and it works fairly well. It won’t exactly help you learn how to play the game better, since there’s no explanation of what the caddie has done to set up the shots, but it does make the game easier to get into for new players.
Outside of these changes, the game remains very similar to last year’s outing. You’ll still need to spend a lot of time in singleplayer if you want to be competitive online, as the experience system hasn’t really changed a bit. The daily challenges return, as does the golfer creation system, which is still insanely detailed.
Unfortunately, we didn’t get a chance to play the PS3 version of the game, which means we didn’t get to test the supposedly improved Move control system.
All in all, Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12: The Masters is basically a polished up version of last year’s that adds Augusta National, a new career mode, and a caddie. That’s not a bad thing, as anyone who played last year’s model knows that the game’s execution was pretty darn good. If you’re a fan of the Tiger Woods games, there’s really no excuse not to pick this one up. After all, you need to play The Masters, especially this weekend, right?
- Augusta National is finally in a golf game, and it’s well done
- Caddie system is very useful
- Gameplay systems that worked well haven’t been toyed with
- Lots of integration of Masters content into numerous game modes
- Offensive DLC integration
- Commentary gets repetitive
- Winning the Masters is a ho-hum event