GAME NAME: Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2014
DEVELOPER(S): EA Tiburon
PLATFORM(S): Xbox 360, PS3, PC
RELEASE DATE(S): 28 March 2013
The most worrying thing when developing a sports game that releases annually is when you get the game to a standard which is near-perfect. It becomes difficult to see where to go next, what to add, improve, remove and alter. The Tiger Woods franchise is one such game which suffers from this problem ever so slightly. Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2014, however, released at probably the most perfect time. Not only is it coming off the back of one of the most memorable recent Masters competitions (and just in time for this year’s Masters), but it also comes after probably the most memorable Ryder Cup of all time, and also happens to coincide with the exact time that Tiger finally returned to the number one spot. So does Tiger Woods 2014 match up to these events?
Straight off the Tee the answer is yes, Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2014 is a definite progression on what was given to us last year and also adds some great touches to make fans and newcomers happy. In terms of gameplay, the game once again uses the left stick to swing. Pulling it back and pushing it forward as straight as possible will result in the perfect shot. It means that practice is needed and when you get it right you feel as though you are really mastering the art. One problem from last year’s game was when you needed to add some fade or draw to your shot. The system was far too finicky and made it near impossible to get the desired results. This year it is much improved with the use of the right stick for placing shots. You will still have to get the swing right to get the best results, but the method just works much better.
Other than that the core gameplay remains mostly the same. Picking which clubs to use when will of course be important, but it all comes down to getting power and placement right, depending on where your shot lies as well as the wind factor. Boost Pins also return this year and fit much better than before. You can unlock various pins to provide slight advantages when you play, something that is particularly useful when playing through career mode.
Putting has also been remarkably improved. Last year it was a matter of too much guesswork when trying to read the greens, but in Tiger Woods 2014 they have really made it far more realistic and more accessible which adds to the excitement of sinking that long putt for a birdie. EA Tiburon have also been hard at work at making the players more unique and have included 24 different swing styles which again adds to the realism of the game.
While not much else on the actual gameplay has changed, Tiger Woods 2014 does have a host of new features. Some of the more basic inclusions consist of playing night matches, which is a first for the series. It really is quite amazing how different a course looks and plays when going through at night. You can also change a host of conditions when playing such as the wind strength, rain, and other factors which change the setting of your game.
Connected tournaments return but have been vamped up. In this year’s game up to 24 people can play at a time and there is no need to wait for others to have their turn. Instead once you play your shot it will show you the ball arc of all the other people in the tournament who have played that hole. This way you can play through at your own time and still see how the others did. Country Clubs also return with the amount of people able to join a club up to 100. The Country Club is a good way of monitoring yourself against friends while also trying to get your club to the number one spot.
Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2014 also includes quick tournaments, which is a huge improvement on previous games in terms of getting into a game without too much fuss. There are also plenty of options to choose from when setting up the tournament so it caters for just about everyone and everything. Quick tournaments are split into two parts, featured events and tournaments. Featured events gives you the option of current tournaments and events from the real world of golf. It will even emulate the actual weather setting if you want to make it as real as possible. Quick tournaments has an abundance of options to choose from with players able to select the course, the golfers and from over 10 different scenarios to play from. These can be start from scratch tournaments, or if you prefer to play out just the last round while trying to pull back a few shots, then you have that option also. The choice is yours.
I have left the best two parts of the game to discuss last. Yes, in case it doesn’t sound great already, the last two parts are really the big sellers. The first is the much improved career mode. Players can create a golfer, customising everything from his socks to his swing style and enter into the golfing world. The career mode is so in-depth that you will soon become absorbed like never before. Players start off in the amateurs with a set of objectives to complete in order to make it to the pros. The objectives are pretty much exactly what a golfer in real life will need to get through to make it to the big leagues. Also added for the first time is the ability to create a female golfer and enter the LPGA Tour which is a great addition, and is about time it found its way into the game.
The career mode is done brilliantly as you try fight your way through amateur tournaments. These include Amateur Championships, the Web.com Tour as well as many other real life tournaments to play through. Impress there and you will find yourself on the PGA or LPGA Tour in no time. The decision of which tournaments to play through are completely up to you, dependent of course on whether or not you qualify. The action once you do enter a tournament is riveting even if you start off with pretty average attributes.
That soon changes though the more you play and it is another part where the game really shines. You can unlock so much content in career mode that there is much extra motivation to keep playing apart from the obvious reason of reaching that number 1 spot. Attribute points can be spent once you play, and you can unlock new clubs, clothing and more to make your golfer the best there is, was and, er… ever will be. There is much more to the career mode, far more than can be included in a short review, but you will not be disappointed at all.
The best part of Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2014 is undoubtedly the inclusion of the Legends of the Majors mode. This mode takes players back to scenarios from the majors as far back as the mid 1800’s with moments from the original Augusta course all the way until recent moments in the 2000’s. Ever moment is as enjoyable as the next and EA Tiburon have made a huge effort to ensure that this part of the game really hits home. The Legends of the Majors mode gives you challenges from some of the best moments in the history of the game. The challenges are fun to play through, and also teach you a bit of history about the game.
When you play one of the challenges it also takes you back to the setting of the time. So the visuals are in a sepia tone while all the clothing is applicable to the times and ages of the era. The setting does a fantastic job of setting the mode apart. The challenges are great and include things like sinking a 120 ft. putt, avoiding all bunkers on the famous Oakmont course, or reliving Palmer’s amazing performance at Amen Corner back in 1958. How about going toe to toe with some of the greats like Seve Ballesteros, Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player? Yes, it includes that also. You can even take your created player back through the ages to tackle these greats in their own backyard.
The Legends of the Majors mode is the best inclusion in a Tiger Woods game in ages, and does a spectacular job of taking players through the history of the game and reminding us of some unbelievable moments from golf over the years, as well as giving us the chance to play alongside some of the real greats of the game.
The only complaints that can really be made are that the graphics look slightly outdated. There also aren’t that many golfers to choose from and while you can pay for over 20 more courses to play on, there aren’t that many to start off with which feels a bit cheap.
Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2014 may not improve too much on the gameplay, but what it has improved on has been done well. The best bits lie in the new modes, abilities and the in-depth career mode. It also pleases me to say that the ridiculous loading times that plagued last year’s game have been improved considerably. Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2014 may not revolutionise the game of golf, but it has certainly evolved what was already a well-worked game. Tiger may have just regained his number 1 spot, and Tiger Woods PGA Tour 14 will follow suite and take the number one golfing game spot once more.