Review: Tiger Woods PGA Tour 13

Arguably one of the best golfing simulators on the market, the Tiger Woods PGA Tour franchise has made a huge impact on the golf gaming community. Over the years, the graphics and the control systems have been refined, and it seems as though Electronic Arts has finally found a system it can be proud of.

Tiger Woods PGA Tour 13
A screenshot of Tiger Woods PGA Tour 13 and the new swing system (image: EA)

With the start of the Masters golf tournament this week, gamers will be able to relive and share in the joy as they take to the greens with Tiger Woods PGA Tour 13. A number of changes have been made in this iteration, and while not all are for the best, it’s still a well-rounded effort.

Probably the biggest change comes in the form of the new swing control system. Over the last couple of games, EA has slowly been phasing out the three-click swing method, which most gamers saw as a bit of a cheat.

For the latest game, the system has totally been omitted, leaving players with only the flick-stick swing – which is a good thing. Instead of having a percentage bar at the side indicating the strength required for making a shot, players now see a swing plane.

The plane is representative of the swing the golf club would make, and the strength of a particular shot is indicated by a notch in the plane. It’s a lot easier to make the correct shot in Amateur difficulty, as Pro and higher require a bit more self-control and concentration. Putting is done through a similar system, but tends to be a bit trickier.

An addition to Tiger Woods 12 was the Caddie system, where players had an on-course help to assist with shot selection, clubs and judging distance. Many players felt that the caddie had too much control over how to play, and voice their opinion to EA.

The Caddie system in Tiger Woods 13 can now however be turned off, allowing for complete control by the player. The systems actually comes in a variety of setting, where players can turn it off completely, activate it manually, or select to have it turn on permanently for automatic shot and club selection.

Before getting into the main game, gamers have the opportunity to relive Tiger Woods’ life – from his early golfing days as a toddler, right through to modern day tournaments and beyond. It’s rather fun to take to golf swings as a five-year-old Tiger, but some challenges are pretty difficult.

It’s also great to see where Tiger started his career and what inspired him to continue, and it does make the franchise is bit more personal. Beside his private troubles a couple of years ago, his story is still very inspiring for young and aspirant players.

One aspect that players of Tiger Woods 13 isn’t too happy about, is the game’s blatant use of in-game currency and penalising gamers who don’t have a constant internet connection. Course Mastery, coins and pins can only be accumulated when connected to the internet, while Course Mastery was available offline in Tiger 12.

Coins and pins were added to Tiger 13 as the game’s default in-game currency. When playing a round of golf (online), player can earn coins by having great scores, which in return can be used to buy rounds at downloadable courses, pin packs and other items. Boast pins can also only be used when connected to the net, and give players the ability to add strength, accuracy, overall stats improvement or earn five-times more XP than normal, when equipped. Only three pins can be used at a time, and players are only awarded five of each. If those run out, players will have to buy more, with the coins.

It is a bit of a shameless way to get players to spend Microsoft points or buy PlayStation vouchers, which Electronic Arts obviously benefit from. The fact that players need to be online to contribute to Course Mastery is also a bit of a left-down, but is understandable to a degree, as completing a course will allow the player unlimited rounds at that course (provided that it’s a downloadable course).

The graphics have been given a visible boost, and Tiger himself looks a lot better than what he did in Tiger 12. While some graphical issue remain, the general feeling is of a well-rounded product with great attention to detail.

Where the graphics do falter, is in the use of EA’s Game Face. Players can upload photos of themselves, and the title will generate them into the game for use with their own golfer. The result is more often than not a face with blotches and discolouration, with some facial elements out of place.

As far as golfing games go, there isn’t really a plot, except that gamers will have to battle their way through all the stages of becoming a professional golfer and eventually taking on Tiger himself for the top spot on the leaderboards.

But the career campaign will take players to some of the most beautiful golf courses in the world, and allow them to play a round at a course where they might never go. The entire career is a rather lengthy one, as gamers will have to commit to winning, or it will be a waste of time. If players have the Collector’s Edition, it will include the Masters Tournament, as well as some extra courses not found on the base edition.

The better shots players make, the more XP they will receive – which is used to level up the character’s attributes such as power, accuracy, putting and recovery. Importing a character from Tiger 12 will reward players with 75 000 XP, which comes in rather handy at the start of the title.

While Tiger Woods PGA Tour 13 isn’t perfect, it is definitely the best Tiger Woods game that Electronic Arts have produced in a very long time. The graphics are superb, the mechanics and physics work well and the new swing system is fantastic. It’s a definite must-buy for any Tiger Woods fan. The number of small and subtle changes, such as the ability to change the camera angle before a swing, makes it even more worthwhile.

Our score: 9/10

Charlie Fripp – Consumer Tech editor


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