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Jeremy Jastrzab
13 Apr, 2011

Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12: The Masters Review

360 Review | Just like Greg Norman's major tournament results...
The annual EA sports cycle starts early this year, with the released of Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12: The Masters coming out almost three months before its usual appearance. The waning popularity of the once immortal titular sportsman and the lack of advancement in golf games have nothing to do with it; it’s released to coincide with the most famous major championship of the sport – The Masters, which is held at the Augusta National Golf Club annually in the first week of April. There are enough improvements to justify this latest edition, but there are few uncomfortable deficits as well.

The focus on The Masters tournament is actually a very suitable setting for the career mode, and is probably the franchise’s best effort at a creating one. The overriding objective of your custom golfer is to gain experience by playing through lowly tournaments and slowly earn experience points, which are then used them to upgrade your golfer so that he or she is more competitive. Strangely, EA has yet to allow Kinect to be able to put yourself in the game. This is bound to happen sooner rather than later though, and the customisation options are plentiful, if a little too stereotypically sensible.

The overall aim of the career mode is to become good enough to compete at The Masters, which will be done so by working your way into a virtual top 100 during your career and passing all the Masters Moments. These are scenarios that recreate famous moments from the tournament, including a recent ‘Great Escape’ by Phil Mickelson from the tournament 2010 and even moments from as far back as the 1930s. All you need to do is pass by getting close, though great rewards lie if you actually recreate them. You’ll find though that these are amongst the wickedest of gaming challenges out there. Still, once you’ve won that prestigious Green Jacket, you’re still allowed to continue playing and defending your title almost as long as you please.

Tiger's back early this year.

Tiger's back early this year.
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Playing well, so scoring birdies, hitting green and fairways in regulation will all earn you experience points. The career mode allows you to take sponsors that will issue you challenges (such as winning a PGA Tour event) in order to unlock their equipment and you also take on AI players one-on-one in a variety of formats, such as Stableford, Matchplay and Skins. However, just like all previous Tiger Woods career modes, even though they will happily occupy you for easily over a dozen hours they can be a massive grind before your golfer is good enough to compete at a reasonable level. The occasional AI that you’ll come across can be highly erratic too; as they’ll hit a tee shot into deep rough, only to follow up by landing right next to the pin. It will often take a lot of earned luck and skill to beat some of them.

Otherwise, you have a whole stable of standard modes and options that you would naturally expect from a golf game – both on and offline. Aside from the two dozen or so current professionals, if it was in a previous game, it’s here now. You’ve also got the President’s Cup, instead of last year’s Ryder Cup, and you’re able to play recreate (or better) The Masters victories by Tiger Woods himself. Menu navigation can be a little tricky though, as the interface is more concerned with showing off the titular theme than providing information and total functionality. It’s not bad, just fiddly.

The gameplay itself is more or less the same as previous Tiger Woods titles. Some may notice though that the mechanics have been fiddled with a little bit, as you’re never 100% comfortable with the accuracy of your strokes. Putting seems to have been affected the most. Aside from some minor tweaks, the biggest gameplay addition is the Caddie. Basically, the caddie will give you suggestions for what is an appropriate shot for the situation and will adjust spin, choke, fade and so forth to match. The suggestions though, are just that – you may choose a better shot and though the caddie can be good, the suggestions are occasionally off. While this encourages the player to be on their toes, it would be good if the caddie gave some more indication over what went into each shot, to help the player learn.

So, hit it down the middle? Thanks caddie! That was a tough one to figure out...

So, hit it down the middle? Thanks caddie! That was a tough one to figure out...
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For those with multiple console options, it comes down to what features you want. If you are Move enabled, the PlayStation 3 version offers immaculately accurate motion controls that make it easier to gauge the strength of your shot than the analogue stick. The Wii version has 25 courses over the 16 in the HD versions and fun diversions such as Disc Golf and Mini-Golf. The PS3 version would have definitely benefitted from the latter two additions.

As a golf sim, Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12: The Masters has very few areas that it can tangibly improve on. The Masters adds a wonderful incentive in the career mode, and is refreshing change instead of just playing to earn money. However, the overall performance of the game really should be much sharper, especially for a game that hasn’t ‘advanced’ that much. There are too many stupid little issues getting in the way. For example, the load times are annoyingly long after each hole, sometimes your swing cursor movement won’t animate even though it’s working and there are a heap of minor presentation issues such as you golfer walking through a ball on the green or obtrusive camera angles. For the amount of resource pumped into the game, this isn’t a great look.

It’s also ridiculous to see the amount of literal revenue streams the game is trying to generate. From day one, there are 20 courses available as DLC, as opposed to the 16 available in game. Furthermore, you can unlock just about everything in the game, for a price. The biggest cop out though, is the implementation of DLC courses in the career mode, where the associated events must be skipped unless you buy the content. Often it feels as if the product you’re buying is unfinished. It would have been nicer to reward players who excel at the game with unlocking some of this extra content, rather than demanding payment.

Augusta is really well recreated.

Augusta is really well recreated.
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As mentioned above, the interface and presentation is occasionally too occupied with being a Masters showcase to be too be overly concerned with acute functionality. The game itself doesn’t really look too much different from its predecessor. It runs and plays pretty much the same. It feels as if it could be better though, for example, as a professional golfer such as Adam Scott was only recognisable by his hair style, rather than facial features. The main presentation difference is the inclusion in the commentary team of Jim Nantz, to accompany David Feherty. Golf aficionados will no doubt be happy to with this addition.

As far as a golf sim goes, Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12: The Masters doesn’t really have much competition. And even though it doesn’t really advance much, it’s actually a great golf game in its own right. The idea of making The Masters the showcase of the career mode was definitely beneficial. However, until the developers can clean up the niggling issues and the game stops masquerading as a honey pot and actually have most of the content available as a reward for playing well, it won’t realise its full potential.
The Score
Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12: The Masters definitely uses the iconic tournament as an advantage and is a great golf game. But it needs more tangible reward and polish, with less fluff and gratuity.
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

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9 Comments
3 years ago
I refuse to buy a full price retail game with only half(if not less) of the product on the Disc. What a rip this EA franchise has become icon_sad.gif
3 years ago
PALGN wrote
The Wii version has 25 courses over the 16 in the HD versions
What odds that those 9 courses are sold as DLC? I bet they're among the 20 already on the store.

PALGN wrote
The biggest cop out though, is the implementation of DLC courses in the career mode, where the associated events must be skipped unless you buy the content
This is unforgivable. Fuck you, EA. The damn mechanics haven't changed since '04. I think I'll stick with '04 and '06.
3 years ago
The TW PGA Tour franchise lost me due to

1) his scandal
2) the game not having evolved a great deal since 2004 (the best game in the franchise, well other than TW 99 and PGA Tour 2 on the Mega Drive). TW 2010 was the final straw for me (08 and 09 were fun to play, but i wanted something more in 10 and didn't get it).
3 years ago
PALGN wrote
The biggest cop out though, is the implementation of DLC courses in the career mode, where the associated events must be skipped unless you buy the content.
That is absolutely disgusting.
3 years ago
PALGN wrote
The biggest cop out though, is the implementation of DLC courses in the career mode, where the associated events must be skipped unless you buy the content. Often it feels as if the product you’re buying is unfinished. It would have been nicer to reward players who excel at the game with unlocking some of this extra content, rather than demanding payment.
This makes me sick. So you can't play through the career mode properly without an internet connection plugged into your box and a credit card !?
I hope this pay for the disk then pay to play it scenario doesn't become common practice.
3 years ago
I wouldn't say that you can't play through the career mode properly, as it's about playing the 'circuit' - picking and choosing events as you play - across several years, rather completing every single event.

While I do not for a second intend to defend the game for this, the overall effect of it is more "oh, that's a shame", than anything else, as you can still unlock everything on the disc and all the achievements and so forth without the DLC. Though if you do buy it, you need to give yourself an uppercut.
3 years ago
was this the game that had all the hoo-ha last year about being able to send pics/challenges to ur freinds, like "look what i did" or "beat this"... anybody know what im talkin about?
3 years ago
Yeah last year's version has the challenges thing you're talking about. You can post your biggest drives and nine hole challenges and closest to the pin challenges etc and others can try and beat them for GamerPoints or some such arbitrary points thingy.

I did a few of them - was a fun diversion for an hour before I realised how much better some of the characters were compared to me because people had purchased all the upgrades that are otherwise nearly impossible to get.

My mate worked it out to be $90 or so to purchase all the upgrades for a character straight away without actually having to play 4,000 rounds to rack up enough experience points.
3 years ago
Had a look on PSN last night just to check out the DLC, $6.45 for each course, but there were a select few such as "Green Links" which were $11.45.
So to get the "complete" game it'd really cost you about $240.
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  Pre-order or buy:
    PALGN recommends: www.Play-Asia.com

Australian Release Date:
  31/03/2011 (Confirmed)
Publisher:
  EA Sports
Genre:
  Sport

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