With the solid addition of Tiger Woods PGA Tour 11, the future of the Tiger Woods series was looking bright. The addition of focus was an innovative change that felt extremely refreshing and greatly changed the way players approached each and every shot. This year, we see the addition of the caddie and the Masters as its “selling point”.
That iconic green jacket is a dream for every PGA golfer out there and it is now your turn to walk this very road. But is the Masters event enough to take you away from Tiger Woods PGA Tour 11? Is the caddie system as innovative as focus was last year? Well, these questions only raise more questions so follow that annoying, yet necessary break.
Road to the Masters is the core of this year’s Tiger Woods. While it is essentially the create a player mode with a new theme, it is a much more fleshed out and rewarding experience. If it isn’t already obvious, the idea of this mode is to take your created player from amateur to the PGA and make your way up the ranks in various events leading up to the Masters.
This year, there are two core leveling components that make up this mode. One, obviously, is the leveling of your created character through the experience gained when playing as your golfer. This aspect of the game is unchanged and rightfully so as it works quite well. The next core leveling component is through sponsors.
There are a total of six different sponsors which are unlocked over the course of your career. Each of these sponsors has four different levels where each level within that sponsor unlocks gear at the Pro Shop. In order to gain levels with a given sponsor, you are given various objectives to complete. I felt this was a welcome change to this mode as it provided me with extra goals to strive for and structured the unlocking of content in a very simple, streamlined fashion.
But, as with every single other EA Sports game available, there is a ton of content that needs to be purchased through micro-transactions – in both the Pro Shop as well as the events. With a total of 25 events available – again, some of which have to be purchased – there is about the same amount of career content that was available in last year’s Tiger Woods PGA Tour title. While this might seem like a disappointment at first, I promise you that there is easily 30+ hours worth of content in this mode alone.
Ultimately though, this mode feels like nothing more than what players could do in previous years but now with the Masters added on. Nonetheless, this streamlined experience is one that never gets old and will be the bulk of one’s gameplay. And, thankfully enough, the improved menu system and helpful videos will make it accessible for anyone.
Additionally, tied into the Road to the Masters is something called Masters Moments. Masters Moments is a mode where you are given the chance to recreate nine of the most memorable moments in Masters history. While this is enjoyable the first time through, it won’t be something you’ll revisit more than once. The experiences are a bit dull and extremely anticlimactic. Because of this, I found myself playing this mode strictly to satisfy a requirement to play in the Masters.
Thus far nothing too new, agreed? Anyhow, year after year, accessibility continues to drive this series forward – for better or worse. The question to ask yourself – as with last year’s installment – is whether you are a casual or hardcore sim golf gamer. Last year, hardcore sim gamers saw the addition of True Aim which added another layer of challenge on top of an already challenging golf experience. However, this year, it is all about accessibility for the casual player. Simply put hardcore sim players, if the Masters or the addition of seven new golfers and six new courses isn’t enough for you to warrant the upgrade, then stick to Tiger Woods PGA Tour 11 for another year.
The addressing of accessibility this year is the caddie system. Say hello to the man behind the golfer. The man that cleans your balls, gives you clubs, and apparently does 99% of the thinking for you. Despite the fact that that isn’t realistic in the slightest, the caddie in Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12 is a way to assist players and speed up each hole you play.
When approaching a shot in previous Tiger Woods games you were faced with the question of which club to use, how much power you wanted to put behind the ball, whether you wanted to fade it, give it some spin, etc. These are situations golfers deal with every time they set their feet on a course. Well, instead of having to worry about that now, the caddie will provide you with a handful of suggestions as to how to approach a shot. Based on his experience with the course, his suggestions will range from confident to questionable to complete conjecture (color coded green, yellow, and red).
This is where the third leveling component of the game comes in. Each course will have something called course mastery tied to it. A level of course mastery has a set of objectives tied to it. When a level of course mastery is completed for a given course, your caddie will now provide you with much more accurate and dependable suggestions.
Essentially, the caddie system is a way to ease new or amateur players into the game of Tiger Woods golf. While this isn’t a bad thing, its usefulness tails off when playing above amateur difficulty. To put it simply, when I play a game for a long period of time, my desire for a challenge increases. However, in Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12, when you play for a long period of time – and in turn gain high levels of course mastery for a majority of the courses – the game becomes easier and turns into mindless gameplay.
While this is a welcome feature when I wish to get a quick course in, it really didn’t feel like a feature that was aimed towards me – being as I am a seasoned veteran of the franchise. So again, you have to ask yourself whether you are a casual or hardcore sim golf gamer in order to truly understand whether this game is for you. And to be honest, I hate having to justify a purchase in such a manner, as the qualities that make up these types of gamers is never easy to quantify. But, once again, EA Sports has managed to alienate a section of its audience in favor of accessibility.
Don’t get me wrong though, I feel there is a good idea behind this caddie system. But the way in which it was implemented does not cater to everyone. A great way to improve this system would be to tie the caddie system into the focus meter. For those amateur difficulty players, give unlimited use of the caddie. For above amateur difficulty players, give limited use of the caddie based on how much of the focus meter the player has available. Giving the player the control over this feature and how much it can be used is the best way to go about this. Hope you’re listening EA.
Another area of opportunity lost is in online multiplayer. Once again, online remains unchanged. This is one aspect of the game that EA needs to innovate upon in order to increase interest in future installments.
Overall, Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12 is a solid title. While I don’t think this is a must purchase, it is an enjoyable experience even if you purchased last year’s title. Nonetheless, despite the fact that the features this year aren’t for everyone, if you haven’t visited the franchise in more than two years, do yourself a favor and pick up either Tiger Woods PGA Tour 11 or 12. The fact is, if you’re a golf fan, either of the two are a must in your gaming library.
The presentation in this year's Tiger Woods is a step in the right direction and has been something the title has needed for years.
|How does our scoring system work?|
While the caddie system is a great way to teach newer players the ins and outs of the game, it feels like it holds back some of the challenge players are looking for. However, at times it is a welcome feature when looking to get in a quick game of golf.
The addition of CBS' Jim Nantz is a huge plus. There is still a good amount of work that needs to be done in the voiceover as it lacks excitement at times.
With over 30 hours of gameplay in Road to the Masters and the three leveling components, there is a great amount of game here. It does get a bit grindy at times.
Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12 provides features that won't be for everyone but is ultimately an enjoyable experience. If you haven't experienced the Tiger Woods franchise in a while, this is a great year to come back.