Plot: What’s it about?
I looked over my review for Tiger Woods ’13 and the first sentence started out like this: “It’s somewhat fitting that Tiger Woods would win his 72nd PGA tour event a mere 48 hours before his new game hit the shelves, isn’t it?” Well as of this writing, Tiger Woods has just nailed the door shut on his 77th win, once again coming at Bay Hill. Tiger regained the #1 spot in the world, something he hasn’t had attached to his name since October 2010. He won a tournament put on by one of golf’s greatest, Arnold Palmer with a video game coming out the next day with, you guessed it, Tiger and Arnold Palmer. You really can’t make this stuff up. Another year has passed and we’re treated to a new installment of Tiger Woods PGA Tour golf. Again, as I mentioned last year, this is really the only game that I buy, though I will say with Mario Kart coning out for the Wii U, it’ll be a big year for me as I’ll purchase two video games. Someone stop me, I’ve got a problem! As of late, each installment of this game has had some new draw to it (pardon the pun). A few years back, you could play the Ryder Cup, then two years ago you could play Augusta (they’ve kept that in subsequent editions, thankfully). Last year, you could track Tiger’s progress from the days where he was pitching out of sandboxes right up until his last major win at Torrey Pines in 2008.
Tiger Woods PGA Tour 14: Collector’s Edition offers some new things this time around. Gone is Tiger’s legacy mode, I suppose there’s only so much you can do by hitting sand shots out of his sand box. No, this time around it’s all about the greats of the game. If you pick up this version, and I suggest you do, you can play against and with some of golf’s greats. I’m talking Arnold Palmer, Jack Nickalus, Sam Snead, Lee Trevino and a few others that will bring drool to a golfer’s mouth. I’ve had this for all of 23 hours, so to say that I’m any sort of expert in what this game offers, is a bit of a lie. But this “Historic Edition” offers up some 70 challenges that range from you playing as Bobby Jones to once again trying to defeat Tiger in some of the amazing things he’s accomplished in such a short career. This “Historic Edition” is $10 more, but you do get four more courses and the ability to play Augusta as it appeared back in 1934 when the course opened. It’s shown in sepia tone, as is everything that occurred in the past – because if it happened in the past, it’s got to be black and white, right? Of course. But enough of all that, what’s different from last year and a rundown of what’s new, what isn’t and is it really worth getting?
Go for the Grand Slam
This is actually a cool little bonus that I really didn’t expect. In past editions, they had “The Masters” and the “US Championship” but the full and official names weren’t really used. Tiger and or EA must have convinced the powers that be to let them use their official names and logos, because they’re all there. So you truly have all four majors starting with The Masters, U.S. Open, The Open Championship and finishing up with the PGA Tournament. It’s little things like this that I find pretty cool.
Step into the Past
The main draw of this game is the “History” of it all. You can play the Augusta National course as it appeared in the past, again sepia tone and all (think The Wizard of Oz before the tornado took Dorothy away to Oz). And it is pretty cool to play as Bobby Jones and against players like Bud Cauley. Their attention to detail is there as well, because you even get the old club names. No, they weren’t always called “Driver” and “6 iron”, they had some rather interesting names like “Mashie” and “Brassie.” I think this is a cool little touch.
As I mentioned last year, it’s all about the courses. The “Historic Edition” gives you 25 whereas the standard version only offers up 20 or 21 (I cant’ remember which) and though we do get a few new ones that we haven’t’ seen in the past, namely Mission Hills, we lose a few that were standard and we gain a few as well. As opposed to rattling off the list of courses, I’ll just direct you to the Wiki Page. Bear in mind it might not be 100% accurate, but from what I can tell, it is. I did play the restored Pinehurst No. 2 course and it’s quite different than in years past. Those damn turtle shell greens are still there, though.
Play as or Against 20 Pros
This installment has got some of the names you see on TV every Sunday as well as some of the greatest that the sport has ever seen. No doubt names like Keegan Bradley, Bubba Watson, Hunter Mahan and Rory McIlroy will jump out, but also in the mix are names like Arnold Palmer, Ben Hogan, Sam Snead, Seve Ballesteros and Gary Player. I’ve yet to really delve into this aspect of the game yet, but I will and let me just say that I’ve patterned my swing after Sam Snead, so we’ll see how accurate they make it. If you’ve ever seen Sam Snead hit a ball – you’ll understand. Also included are several of the LPGA tour players.
Never Play Alone
Admittedly I really don’t understand this one too much yet. I rarely play online simply because I don’t like getting my ass kicked by some 10 year old kid. Nevertheless, I guess you can play in tournaments with up to 20 people and you can see their shots as they happen. I believe there’s a “new” functionality to talk while online. I know this has been around for a while with other games as well, but this will either really work out well or they’ll abandon it next year.
While not one of the major bullet points for the game, they have added over twenty different ways to hit the ball. Play a fade? No problem. A draw? They’ve got it covered. But if you’re like the rest of us, we play slices and hooks and just hold our breaths and hope that the ball lands somewhere in the fairway. Am I right? There’s an option to set the trajectory as well with a higher ball flight (like myself) or a lower, more piercing shot. Again, no need to re-invent the wheel here, but it’s an interesting approach.
I know I missed a few things that are back as well. I neglected to mention that Country Clubs are back. I finally got around to creating one last year The Royal Pardon. I thought it was pretty clever. As of this writing, I’m still the only member. Ah well, life goes on. They’ve messed with the putting again. I’m not good enough to take off the on screen guide, but it seems that you really have to knock the hell out of the ball to get it to move. I don’t know why they keep messing with the putting year after year, but I’m sure that it’ll eventually make sense to me and I’ll figure it out. Or as Ben Hogan said “If you want to improve your putting, hit your approach shot closer to the hole.” Thanks for that Ben, I’ll give it a shot. Baddam-chh.
Video: How does it look?
As with previous years, this is shown in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio and it looks pretty darn good. One things about the “historic” part is that it is shown in sepia tone and little scratches have been added to give it that “vintage” look. But I have to admit, that it does look pretty spot on. I haven’t played all of the courses, namely just a few of my favorites and having had the opportunity to actually play Pebble Beach last year, that was where I first headed. Detail looks good, the crowd is a bit more interactive and the overall visuals are pretty much the same with last year. I read on EA Sports’ Facebook page that the players, namely Tiger, seem to look like they’re made out of clay. I’d have to say that’s a pretty accurate description. The animations seem a bit more seamless this year and there’s also been a new feature added which I think is pretty cool in that you can play the course at night. Yep, you play under the moonlight with a ball that emits a soft, neon glow. It’s actually a really nice touch and one that I hope they keep around in future editions. Some of the greens, and maybe this was the time of day I was playing, appeared to have a bit of waxy look to them. I don’t know if it’s every course of just the one I was on (I believe it was Pinehurst No. 2). Still, the video quality is just as good as last year and I don’t think that anyone will be disappointed.
Audio: How does it sound?
The audio must be good because as I was playing, my wife craned her head around and started looking out the window. I asked her what she was doing and she said she was looking for the woodpecker that she heard. I explained to her that it was on the game and that seemed to alleviate her concerns. Once again the tournaments are narrated by CBS sportscaster Jim Nantz and David “I’m everywhere” Feherty. I think these guys recorded some new sound bites for this year and that’s a good thing as you can only hear the same stock, canned quips so many times before you turn down the volume. Putts emit a little “clink”, the “historic” mode offers a different sound as their drivers, oops “brassies” are wood and not steel. Crowd ambiance is about the same, though when you add everything up it is a pretty robust mix.
If you’re like me, and not many are, then this is one game that I buy every year regardless of what they have on it. I’ve kept my previous versions so if I get tired of it and don’t like it, I’ll just play a year in which I know I like. They do seem to try to offer some bona fide reasons to upgrade every year and why shouldn’t they? Playing as and against some of the legends looks to be cool and I neglected to mention that you can also play in some LPGA tournaments and as some of their players. I never will, but the option is there regardless. And no, I’m not a misogynist, I just have no interest in the LPGA in any way, shape or form. I also neglected that the pro shop has some upgrades too. I’ve actually got my golfer wearing the same shoes that I play with in real life, with the same clubs, shafts, balls and glove. I think that’s pretty cool. I think they should add the option of allowing you to purchase whatever you like from the pro shop in real life. Like the shirt they have? Hey, click “Buy it Now” and they’ll ship it to your door. It’s a thought.
Tiger Woods has regained the #1 spot on the PGA Tour. His game is pretty much the only choice when it comes to video gaming golf. To me, it offers some realistic choices and is very entertaining. Next to going out and doing the real thing, this is as good as it gets and for the next few weeks I’m a happy camper when it comes to PGA Tour ’14.