Video Game Review: ‘Tiger Woods PGA Tour 13’ Offers More of the Stellar Same

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CHICAGO – I adored “Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12: The Masters,” the best golf game for the PS3 generation yet produced. Where does a franchise go from there? How could “Tiger Woods PGA Tour 13” differ much from its award-winning predecessor? There are slight differences and a deep new mode that tracks Tiger’s “Legacy” but, for the most part, it’s the same game, which means it’s great but not necessarily a required purchase if you still have some courses to play in last year’s edition.

HollywoodChicago.com Video Game Rating: 4.0/5.0
Video Game Rating: 4.0/5.0

The focus has moved back to Tiger more than ever as this is the third edition since his personal problems overtook his professional persona and the tabloids have moved on to other things. The “11” edition featured a focus on the Ryder Cup and last year’s went to the Masters. This year, it’s back to Tiger. Sure, he shares the cover with Rory McIlroy (and I LOVED how the game downloaded an image of a victorious Bubba Watson for my menu screen on the morning after he won the Masters), but this is back to being Tiger’s game.

Tiger Woods PGA Tour 13
Tiger Woods PGA Tour 13
Photo credit: EA

No more so than in the clever and fun “Tiger Legacy” mode, in which the developers have gone way back and even forward in the life of the legendary golfer. You start by shooting golf balls into a net or a pool in your backyard, even competing in toddler competitions. The numerous challenges are all built around actual events and highlights in Tiger’s career. And then the writers cleverly move past that to envision possible highlights in the future. It’s very smart. Some of the challenges can be a bit frustrating and this section of the game suffers from the same deep flaw as all of the modes in that the load times can be ridiculously long, but it’s somehow even more noticeable here because of the mini-game nature of the challenges. The load times can allow for a slow, zen-like approach to an 18-hole game. When you’re popping golf balls into your mom’s purse as a toddler Tiger, you shouldn’t have to deal with load times.

Tiger Woods PGA Tour 13
Tiger Woods PGA Tour 13
Photo credit: EA

After that, there’s not much to report. You can use the Caddie again and some of the mechanics seem more refined than “12.” I have to say that I found the graphics to be a step down from last year, but that could just be because the world of gaming is always moving forward and this is definitely not a leap in realistic graphics. If anything, it’s the same as last year and being the same is being behind in the world of video games. For every gorgeously designed green, there’s a bunker or an animation that doesn’t look quite right. But, like I said, if it didn’t bother you last year, it won’t this year either.

Once again, the game is heavily built around a career mode. You build a golfer and earn XP through accomplishments on the links. You can earn pins to give yourself boosts this year like improved accuracy or more power. They do help but I found them a little gimmicky for a title that so bases itself in realism. Then you take your pro through tournaments, training, sponsor challenges, etc. with the goal of becoming the next Tiger. It’s a mode that takes hours to master, giving players true value for their purchase price (which can, once again, be heavily increased by downloadable courses to add to your experience).

There are also some adjustments to the swing mechanics and planning your shot. More focus on fades, draws, open/closed stances, loft, etc. may help add to the realism for some players but I often found that it turned the game into more of a math problem than a sports simulation. Ask the caddie and input the result (X amount of loft, Y amount of draw, etc.) Now, you can ignore the caddie and do your own thing, and he’s not always right, but I found this edition a bit more routine than the joyful one I found last year.

Now, I’m being hard on this title because so much of what did work about “The Masters” is still here. The game is fluid, fun, and addictive. The courses are beautifully designed and it’s deep in customization. Players can start careers, play a quick game, or go through Tiger’s Legacy. And many players will have the most fun jumping online where this year’s edition will shine brightest for those into competitive and even co-op play. There are tournaments and even the ability to create your own country club of Tiger Woods fans. The world of gaming has encouraged more and more social interaction and it’s nice to see a game that could have easily been built around a solitary experience like golf and make it team-oriented.

As for audio, Jim Nantz once again rocks. The broadcasts are smart, simple, and not over-done. And the music, once again, adds to the overall zen-like atmosphere.

Of course, once again, you can use your Move to swing like a real player, something I’ve always found to be a fun gimmick for a party night but not a long-term way to play. The game also uses Kinect technology for the first time for its Xbox edition. The jury is still out as to whether or not that was a good idea as most critics have commented that the mechanics still don’t feel quite right.

How does one judge a game like “PGA Tour 13” when it’s so similar to “12”? I liked the Tiger Legacy mode but felt the load times more than ever. So, the pros and cons of the minor changes to the title balance out and we’re back where we began — a fantastic golf game, even if it does feel like one you’ve played before.

‘Tiger Woods PGA Tour 13’ was released by Electronic Arts and developed by EA Tiburon. It is rated E (Everyone). The version reviewed was for the PS3 but the title is also available for the Xbox 360. It was released on March 27th, 2012.

HollywoodChicago.com content director Brian Tallerico

By BRIAN TALLERICO
Content Director
HollywoodChicago.com
brian@hollywoodchicago.com

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