It is hard to believe that after the yearly treatments EA gives to its sports games there are still new ideas and innovations to be had. Yet here we are again for Tiger Woods PGA Tour 13, following a player that, you have to admit, is extremely lucky to still have such a huge sponsorship deal.
PGA Tour 13 has been fine tuned to create an almost perfect golf game.
PGA Tour 13 has been fine tuned to create an almost perfect golf game that will not disappoint newcomers and long-time fans of the series. The basic gameplay is pretty much what you would expect from any golf game that has been released on a home console, you select a club, aim and then swing and whack a small ball as far as you can down the fairway, trying to sink the ball in the hole in as little shots as possible; but somehow EA have made this simple game into a behemoth that will occupy you well into next year’s inevitable release.
Your own personal road to the PGA championships is as in-depth as ever, allowing you to practice and play through the world’s top courses in meticulously recreated greens and fairways at the likes of St. Andrews Links and Pebble Beach Golf Links. Creating you character is a cinch with you able to make a lifelike replica of yourself using varying customization sliders or using the Kinect camera to take a photo.
Once on the course everything you need is all within easy reach, checking the lie of the ball; calling for help from your caddy; changing clubs; fine tuning your aim and feet positions; addressing the ball from the top or bottom, right through to the final swing of the club. Everything is all very natural and easy to use. The virtual golf swing takes an awful lot into consideration using the new Total Swing Control system, you still pull back in the left stick and then push forward to hit the ball, but with the real time swing gauge you’re able to master your strokes as it tells you if your tempo is too slow or if your swing is pulling.
In single player your aim is to play through the many courses across the events calendar, steadily getting better at your game whilst gaining status with sponsors by completing objectives, with the better performances raising the sponsor level and unlocking even more equipment from shafts and grips, to jackets and trousers.
As well as personal experience attributes that you can apply to you golfer, you also earn coins which open up even more areas to purchase including pins. Boost Pins come with a large variety of stat changing abilities that alter the way in which you play the game, with you able to attach three to your bag, with course pins boosting the status points you earn on each course, a coin boost to earn cash quicker, to gameplay changes like a shot preview or improved lie. All of these pins come at a cost and also have limited use, so choose wisely.
There are 16 courses to play across straight from the off which will keep you occupied for some time, but in an interesting move that will be sure to upset many gamers there are an additional 20 courses that you can “unlock”. There are two ways of doing this, by earning coins by completing specific Course Mastery Challenges you can purchase a course pass with a basic price of 6000 coins per session to then try and earn a Gold Course Mastery Badge on the new course, or you can use your own real cash and shell out for an unlimited pass. I can see the pros and cons to this approach, first off, most games have a gradual award system, you complete a course, you unlock more and to be honest, by the time you have mastered the initial disc based courses you will be well on your way with a hefty bank of coins; but to also offer a real world cost to shortcut this, I am pretty sure we used to have cheat codes for this sort of thing. In reality, you don’t have to buy this content as it is all accessible by playing the game, though you do need to be online to unlock the unlimited passes. If you don’t like this idea, don’t buy it, EA will soon get the message.
To try to move away from the past few catastrophic years in Tiger’s personal life there is a dewy eyed walk down memory lane in Tigers Legacy, a challenge mode that allows you to recreate moments of his life like two year old Tiger pitching into a paddling pool in the late 70’s, becoming the youngest U.S Amateur and even a future forecast with Tiger winning his 17th major in 2014 to a shoulder injury in 2015.
Though predominately a single player experience, there are plenty of improvements for the online modes, with EA creating an immersive golfing community. Online, County Clubs can be joined or created, allowing you to participate in larger group games, set up online games with club members and play rival clubs for the Club Championships. The status you earn from every game you play is logged here, with you all pooling together to earn your Country Club various ratings, plus an increased coin collection. EA Sports Cross Play also makes a welcome return with the game ranking your stats like total birdies and holes played with friends that also earn you plenty of in game rewards.
They say golf spoils a perfectly good walk, well now the Kinect spoils a perfectly good game of golf.
They say golf spoils a perfectly good walk, well now the Kinect spoils a perfectly good game of golf. If you are fortunate enough to have a Kinect perched on top of your TV you are able to “enhance” the gameplay, though in reality it’s a very mixed bag. The usual swiping and raising your arms to navigate menus is as ever, a nuisance, with lots of mis-detection and timewasting trying to get to the right option and is initially, a bit disappointing; but once into the game there are some truly inspirational moments, like placing your left hand over your eye-line to bring up a view mode, asking your caddy for advice for club selection or an angle for a putt via voice command, to facing the Kinect and positioning your hands like holding a club to address the ball. The basics work quite well, especially the swing recognition, but for finer adjustments it all falls apart again with the voice system not really working 100%, leaving you to the arm lifting and swiping gestures to select items. There is also a very cumbersome aiming system that again you need to swipe and point at that will either move or not at all, or very quickly. You are able to use a controller to a degree as well as the Kinect but you can’t pick and choose what areas and seeing as I have little patience, I chose to turn off the Kinect and go for the controller only option.
Tiger Woods PGA Tour 13 is yet another solid entry into this long running series and somehow manages to improve on all aspects of the game. The Kinect functions are a novelty at best and still require some work from EA but this does not take anything away from a brilliant golf game.
Rating: ExcellentReview Policy(version tested: Xbox 360)
You can order your copy of Tiger Woods PGA Tour 13 from ShopTo here (PS3) and here (Xbox 360).