Review: Tiger Woods PGA Tour 14

The Tiger Woods PGA Tour series has been one of the most successful golfing games in recent history, and with the release of Tiger Woods 14, gamers can once again step into the shoes of Woods, or forge their own path to PGA glory.

Experience Augusta National Golf Club as it was back in the day with the Legends of the Majors mode (image: EA)

What we like about it

Apart from the usual PGA career, players can now step back in time with the Legends of the Majors mode and compete in some of history’s biggest moments, starting in the late 1800’s. Gamers will be taken through selected highlights since the dawn of tournament golf, and will be tasked with completing certain objectives.

This mode comes complete with sepia-toned visuals and authentic era-specific clubs – which aims to deliver a true feeling of what golf was like back in the beginning. As players complete the tasks and challenges, they will progress in the timeline, culminating in 2013 with Tiger Woods and some of today’s best golfers.

The graphics have naturally been given a stiff boost, and it is refreshing to see that EA has opted to design more than three different categories of spectators who are copied and pasted throughout the courses, in line with previous titles.

Attention to small details have also been added – the wind plays plays a more signficant role and affects clothing, for example, and the visuals are more clear, more crisp.

But for the first time in the history of the franchise, players will now be able to create a female golfer and compete in the LPGA – the equivalent to the men’s tournament, with authentic courses and prizes.

This year’s title also includes all four Men’s major golf championships – the Masters Tournament, U.S. Open Championship, The Open Championship and PGA Championship. During their career, players will be able to prove their worth in all tournaments against the best in the world.

EA has also introduced a new XP and levelling up system, and gone are the days of Course Mastery to earn pins and badges. The Xp system is now solely based on on-course performance, with players pushing their XP into the different attribute fields after a round.

Golfers will also now have a level system with an attribute cap – reaching level 60 as a golfer, the attributes will be capped at 75. As players golf along, reaching level 65 will raise that cap to 80, and so on. It prevents players from becoming to overpowering in certain areas and forces then to distribute the points across the board.

But with all the changes and additions, is the new title all that it is cracked up to be?

What we do not like about it

While this version of the golf simulator is essentially a redress of Tiger Woods 13 with a number of tweaks, the small changes make the game more frustrating than what it should be. An example of this is the wind factor – players need to keep the wind’s direction and strength in mind when planning shots.

But this does not always go according to plan. The title will – more often than not – disregard the indicated wind speed, leaving the player to plan and execute a shot accordingly, only to have it go wayward of where it should have gone – simply because the factors are correct as indicated in-game.  It seems that the game makes use of the wind factors only when it wants to.

The swing plane and shot execution has also been given a small tweak (although very minor), as players will now have to swing diagonally to perform draws and fades. This sounds a lot easier then what it actually is, and when a game relies on precision, swinging diagonally becomes an effort in itself. It is much better to hit the ball straight and spin the daylights out of it before it hits the ground.

While players can now create a golfer who can make a selection between power and accuracy, the choice is actually a bit redundant. In golf, hitting a powerful tee shot is key, the short game needs a bit of accuracy, and then it down to putting.

In something like Tiger Woods PGA Tour, the first two factors are incredibly easy to power through, as putting is where the business really matters. Gaining experience points by playing well and levelling up, the XP should be pumped into Power, Putting, Accuracy and Recovery – in that order. If you can get onto the tee in as few shots as possible, half the battle is won. What is the point of having a golfer with laser-precision accuracy who cannot crack the 200m mark from a tee off?

The presentation style of the latest title has obviously also been given a facelift, and it is much better now than before. For starters, there is an indicator as to where the flag is and during the loading screens information about the next hole is displayed as well as other player stats.

But the presentation is not without its faults – on a number of occasions a random information pop-up will be displayed on-screen during tee off, which then refuses to go away. It will block the player’s swing plane, which is very annoying.

The commentary team is once again headed up by Jim Nantz, and while they have some new quips, the bulk of the commentary is identical to Tiger Woods 13 – something which cheapens the game considerably. And something which was present in TW13 as well, is that the commentary stream would often overlap with another, leaving the player to listen to gibberish.

Players of the previous games should not expect too much from Tiger Woods PGA Tour 14, as EA seems to tweak every second game before releasing a brand-new version of it in between. While this version has a better presentation style and graphics, it ultimately falls somewhat short of bring anything new or unique to the golfing green.

Having played the Tiger Woods PGA titles religiously since 2008, this edition is somewhat of a disappointment, with all its small flaws and shortcomings – one would expect an error-free title from EA at this stage.

Our score: 7.8/10

Charlie Fripp – Consumer Tech editor

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