Tiger Woods PGA Tour 14 Review
Be the ball.
Tiger Woods PGA Tour 14 marks the start of the yearly EA Sports releases and the start of you deciding whether or not they’re worth spending another $60 on. I enjoy golfing in real life, I’ll watch it on TV here and there and I’ve been playing the Tiger Woods games since they started back in 1999, but unlike EA NHL, I don’t need to buy it each and every year. Tiger Woods 13 included some big changes, like Total Swing Control and Kinect support, so it would be easy to think that Tiger 14 would just be a slightly updated version of that and wait for the next-gen Tiger to come out next year. I think casual fans may want to do that, but long time fans of the game are going to want to check out what EA Sports have come up with this year.
In some areas, Tiger Woods PGA Tour 14 is just an updated version of Tiger 13, as most of the actual gameplay and mechanics are the same, with a few tweaks here and there. That’s not a bad thing though as I really liked what they did last year and they’ve only made it better this time around. Small, but noticeable changes include Shot Shaping now forcing you to move the Left stick diagonally when hitting Draw or Fade shots, being able to now move the Strike Meter to the left and right of the ball, depending on where it lies, Total Swing Control accuracy and tempo have been adjusted to cause less random miss-hits and the Ask a Caddie option is now Ask A Pro and only available in Practice rounds. I found the Ask A Caddie option made things a little too easy at times and Tiger Woods 14 is better off without it. If you want a real challenge, you can try the new Simulation difficulty, which changes the Swing Difficulty to expert, removes the Swing Meter, Ball Spin, Putt Preview, Green Grid, Wind Display and forces you to have to hold the Strike Meter in place while taking your shot. Taking away all of those little helpers showed just how bad of a video game golfer I could be.
In the Career mode, you’ll create your golfer, which now includes customizing your Swing Style by choosing a swing type, swing shape, trajectory and handedness, and enter either the US or British Amateur Championship and then through the Web.com Tour as you work your way to the PGA Tour. New to this year’s career mode is the option to create a female character and play through a full career, from the Amateurs to the big leagues, in the LPGA as well. It’s nice to finally see the ladies getting their place in the game. Also new to the Career Mode are all four Major Championships: The Masters, The U.S Open, The Open Championship and the PGA Championship. Never before have all four Majors been included in a Tiger Woods game, so this is our first chance at a Grand Slam. After each event, you’ll earn XP, Status, Coins and new clothing and equipment to upgrade your golfer, very similar to previous entries. One thing to be aware of is that you will still earn XP, but you won’t earn Coins if you’re playing offline, so you have to be connected to collect those. It’s not as bad as EA’s new SimCity, but it’s something to keep in mind if you plan on playing Tiger 14 on a console that’s not connected to the internet all of the time. Career Mode is where you’ll spend the majority of your solo time and you won’t have a hard time getting lost in it.
New to the series is Legends of the Majors, a new challenge mode that lets you relive historic moments from past Major Championships, all the way back to 1873 for the first Open Championship at St Andrews and up to last year’s Majors. In some of the challenges you’ll play as the actual golfer in the real life scenario and some will have you playing as other golfers recreating the moment in PGA history. Older challenges are presented in Sepia tones, with authentic clothing and equipment from that time period, making Legends of the Majors a nice distraction for golf history buffs.
It’s obvious that the game will look better each year, but Tiger 14 seems to really push the graphics and environments forward, with much smoother character movements and detailed courses that look great. I went back and played a little bit of Tiger 13 and it looked really old compared to this year, much more than just a one year difference. From the Sepia Tones in Legends of the Majors to the way golfer’s pants and hair blow in the wind, EA Sports did a great job of closing out the series in this current-gen. I can’t wait to see what they can do with the next-gen systems. The environments look and feel great, but my favorite parts are the new Live Weather and Live Time Of Day options. If it’s raining with strong winds at 10pm in Pebble Beach in real-life, then it will be in your game as well. Having to adjust to these dynamic elements can add a whole new layer to the round, especially if you’re playing on the higher difficulties.
Tiger Woods PGA Tour 14 still supports Kinect, and it’s still a pain in the ass to navigate the menus, even with the new vertical menu system. You have to move your right hand up and down to change the menu item and then swipe across to select it, but it’s not very responsive and it rarely picked what I actually wanted. Playing with Kinect in-game wasn’t much better either. I always wanted a good golf game for Kinect and Tiger Woods PGA Tour should be the perfect game, but I just don’t like playing it with Kinect, at all. Aiming your shot is too sensitive and frustrating and my golfer would frequently complete his swing, while I was still in my back swing. Try it for yourself, but I think you’ll agree that using the controller is the way to go. Using Kinect is optional, and they don’t force it down your throat, so it’s not the end of the world that it doesn’t work very good, but I think it’s time to move on and stop worrying about the handful of gamers that still like Kinect. It was a good attempt, but it’s over guys. Spend that time on something else.
As far as content goes, there are a ton of modes to play in Tiger Woods PGA Tour 14 and you shouldn’t ever run out of things to do. There are 32 licensed golfers to pick from, 9 Legends, 20 Pro’s (15 Male, 5 Female) and even three celebrity golfers. The game ships with 20 courses on-disc (25 in the Historic Edition), so there’s plenty of courses to pick from, and another 22 that you can purchase as DLC separately. You can also buy more Coins if you want, but it’s completely optional and there are plenty of other ways to earn Coins without having to spend any real money. I can already hear the complaints, but don’t be mad, grab some friends, it’s time to play some golf.
Tiger Woods PGA Tour 14 offers a wide range of online and offline cooperative and competitive multiplayer modes, including the new 24 player Connected Tournaments. You can play offline with up to four friends in Stroke or Match Play, Skins, Stableford, Best Ball and more, or you can take things online and battle it out in Public and Private, Ranked and Unranked matches of all your favorite modes. Country Clubs are back this year and now support up to 100 players, to either play with or against in different online modes. Regardless of what mode you are in, the game will update you on how your Country Club ranks in different stats and how you rank against other members of your Club as well, always keeping you connected to your Club.
As I said, the newest multiplayer mode is called Connected Tournaments, and it lets up to 24 players compete in the same tournament, at the same time. The way it works is that each tournament is open to an unlimited amount of players, but you will see the shot arcs of up to 23 others players that are on the same hole as you, in real-time. I really like how they did this, as you don’t have to wait for other players to take their turn, so it’s the best of playing by yourself and against others at the same time. Some tournaments you can only enter once, but others you can replay over and over to try to beat your previous score, until it expires. Lastly, you can use your created golfer in the online modes, and earn additional XP, Status and Coins there as well, creating a cross-mode progression system with the career mode. I love when games do that.
EA Sports rarely disappoints when it comes to co-op and multiplayer modes and Tiger Woods PGA Tour 14 is no exception.
I’ve been having a lot of fun with Tiger Woods PGA Tour 14, and I don’t see that stopping any time soon. The minor updates to the core mechanics and Career Mode, the new dynamic weather and time of day features and the new Connected Multiplayer Tournaments are enough to win me over this year. It may not be enough to make everyone fork over another $60 this year, and I’m sure there are plenty of people who are happy to wait for the next-gen Tiger to arrive, but they’ll be missing out on EA Sports best golf game yet. If you do decide to give Tiger 14 a shot, do yourself a favor and disconnect Kinect first.
Available On: Xbox 360, Playstation 3