Game Review

Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12: The Masters Review

USA USA Version

Posted by Spencer McIlvaine

A master stroke?

The seasoned PGA Tour Golf series shoves Tiger out of the way this year, instead choosing to put “The Masters” tournament front and center. The case, promotion and advertising for Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12: The Masters are all Masters-centric, perhaps in a first step toward abandoning the long-running Tiger Woods branding entirely. But has EA taken a mulligan to start the series over from scratch, or is this just the same old game with a slightly new spin?

Since the introduction of Wii Motion Plus support in Tiger Woods 10, the Wii edition of this leading golf franchise has been the must-have version each year. This is because motion controls, properly done, make swinging a golf club feel realistic as opposed to playing with a traditional controller. Although Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12: The Masters on PlayStation 3 now features motion controls, we found that version to be less than perfect. Not so with the Wii version, which consistently gets its motion controls right.

So refined are the motion controls now that it seems EA is adding additional features to make the game more realistic, as the Motion Plus aided swing already felt flawless. For instance, Balance Board support is optionally included to allow for measurement of your hip movement in your swing stance. This seems like more hassle than it’s worth, but someone looking to produce the most realistic golf simulation yet possible will appreciate the subtle way this addition forces you to have correct posture and to swing the Remote like a golf club rather than develop a lazy shortcut method. Previous additional options such as a first person view and two different putting options also return, making the game as real and customisable as the player wants. At this point, short of adding Vitality Sensor support, it is almost impossible to imagine any further refinement to the basic mechanics of playing golf.

These features are all optional and are customisable at the initial start up screen, or later on in the options menu. The sheer number of options to wade through seems like a lot to choose from for a beginner and it feels like some of this would have been better left entirely in the options menu to make the initial setup for a beginner clearer. The start up screen does offer most of these choices on a sliding scale from easy to difficult, so it is not really that confusing. But what these features are and whether or not you want them seems like too much information for someone just starting out.

Where the start up gets things right is a practice round of golf immediately following your initial selections. Recreating a classic Masters tournament, you play as Tiger and get a chance to feel how the game is played without any real consequences before creating a single player tournament or going online. Although the initial options screens may have scared away some new players, forcing them to play a quick hole right away should effectively reel them back in.

In an additional step towards catering to new players, a new “caddy” system is introduced. This is a feature that gives advice to the player on what kind of approach to take for each shot on each hole. Although loudly trumpeted as the most important improvement in the game this year, frankly, the caddy system isn’t really that new; PGA Tour Golf has long had a system in place to set up your next shot with a recommended club and aim. The caddy system merely gives you two choices to select from. For the most part, it is nothing more than a shortcut method of playing the game with all of the most important choices made for you, making the game incredibly manageable for a beginner, especially a beginner at golf. But more experienced players will find it either too easy or just annoyingly intrusive and and will be happy to find that it is another feature that can be turned off in the options menu.

While the caddy system makes things easy for new players, returning veterans will find that there is plenty of challenge to be found online, especially with the addition of the legendary Augusta National course, the site of The Masters tournament. As usual, players can compete against the pros during live tournaments. In between these online events, regular online competitive matches are always available and an extensive offline career mode should keep players of all skill levels busy for the next year. If you’re good enough, at the end of your career mode season you’ll be invited to the Masters to play at Augusta National, a PGA Tour Golf series first.

Additional bells and whistles include the return of Disc Golf, Mini Golf and the various party games, and online play for Disc Golf returns from Tiger Woods PGA Tour 11. As deep and lengthy as the career mode is, these extra game modes add even more entertaining diversions to extend the life of the game. Disc Golf in particular is likely to become the primary draw to this game for a very particular subset of fans of that sport.

It should be noted that the Wii edition this year comes with 24 courses included. A fairly typical number compared to past years, to be sure, but the PS3 and Xbox 360 versions received only 16 courses each. Although those consoles will eventually see more courses than the Wii, they will accomplish this through paid downloadable content. Although the Wii version will not be expandable in this way, out of the box it comes with 50% more courses than the other consoles, providing substantially more value.

The sand trap that the Wii edition seems permanently mired in is in its graphical presentation. In the past we’ve praised the graphics, as they generally match the appearance offered by the HD consoles, but they also clearly lack the high resolution and vibrant colors that provide such satisfying visuals on the those other consoles as well. At this point, it appears the graphics are as good as they’re going to get on the Wii, with no noticeable improvements in the last several releases. As such, the visual appeal will never match the HD graphics offered by the other systems. For most Wii players this is a familiar problem and something that goes without saying. But as Mark Twain once quipped, “Golf is a good walk spoiled.” As you are already not getting a good walk out of this game, you really need to be genuinely interested in the mechanics of playing golf, as the visuals alone will not be enough to capture the interest of players when the same thing is offered in a better format elsewhere.

As it so happens, the mechanics of playing golf are where the Wii version of Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12 excels. Although no substitute for the real thing, golfers looking to improve their golf game on the cheap and in the privacy of their own home will find the Wii version of Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12 the most useful golf simulator yet conceived. This year’s inclusion of the highly exclusive Augusta National course makes the game a serious option for pro golfers looking to prepare for their shot at winning The Masters tournament some day.

Conclusion

Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12 represents a subtle refinement of an already solid offering. While a good selling point, that also means this is basically the same game as last year’s release, just with a few minor alterations. Last year’s release was certainly great, but that doesn’t mean we have to buy it again. It seems that gone are the days when dramatic technological improvements were introduced with each new release in this series. With fewer improvements possible, it will likely become tougher each year to recommend an upgrade. But for this year, Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12 may very well represent the apex of the series.

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User Comments (15)

Burning_Spear

#1

Burning_Spear said:

Lots of problems with this game. A glitch that makes Tiger unbeatable at certain points. (He shoots 68 under par — beat that.) The diehards are absolutely livid that the caddie can't be turned off — he's quite intrusive. And online play-anyone games can only be played from the easy tees, meaning people are reaching the greens in one shot.

Bass_X0

#2

Bass_X0 said:

I wish reviewers wouldn't give great scores to games that are barely different to previous versions (unless its supposed to be a port) - this is like if Super Mario Galaxy 3 was identical to Super Mario Galaxy 2 but with a few new power-ups and an additional stage or two.

I can also copy and paste Shakespeare but it doesn't mean I should get the same recognition as him.

GabboStaff

#3

Gabbo said:

@Burning Spear
It looks like the problems you found complained about online with the caddie are on the XBox and PS3 versions. The Wii version can be turned off. It's also not as big of a feature on the Wii so is probably less annoying than what they're complaining about.

@Bass X0
Oh, I don't know. The series has actually dropped a full point since the last one I reviewed (Tiger Woods 10) and I find this to be a much better game, albeit mostly from sugar-coating.

It's a tough situation because on the one hand you want to reward creativity and major improvements. On the other, small, safe improvements really do result in a better game and it's a bizarre result to give it a lower score. Tiger Woods 10 was a huge leap forward for the series and we rewarded it accordingly. This...not so much. But it's still a better game so...

gingerbeardman

#4

gingerbeardman said:

This game crashed so much on me during my first attempt at playing, I sent it back. Poor show EA.

Lobster

#5

Lobster said:

My dad would love this, according to the review. But the comments are making me feel a bit iffy on getting it for him...

shinesprite

#6

shinesprite said:

The only Tiger woods game I REALLY enjoyed was 03. After that, I kinda lost interest.

TheBaconator

#7

TheBaconator said:

The last Tiger game I had was 99 on the PC. You were able to blow up a range cart in that one.

Ayer99

#10

Ayer99 said:

I kinda wish this wasn't 50 bucks. Nock this down to 40 and I am all in.

deftheman

#11

deftheman said:

Good Game, only problem it almost the same as tw 2011.
Like Ayer99 said : 39.99 for the game and a review score of 6.9 ;)

GabboStaff

#12

Gabbo said:

Well if you're looking for discounts they are widely available for this title. It's currently less than $40 at certain online retailers I need not name. But even that's still higher than the $30 it was at launch (after promotional gift cards taken into account).

There has never been a point where you absolutely had to pay full retail price for this game if you just shop around. And, of course, it will only drop between now and when Tiger Woods 13 comes out.

AlexSays

#13

AlexSays said:

Sports games can not have drastic change, anyways. I have this discussion every year about Madden. The biggest transition it can undergo is visually or because of the controller. There's nothing more that can be done with the Wii's limited hardware, and it already takes advantage of motion control.

Besides that, it can only have new courses, characters, challenges, online features, etc. And no additions like those will significantly change the game.

And if games had to have considerable change in order to score the same, or higher, games such as Pokemon Black or any Final Fantasy would score like 2s, despite holding up well against brand new games.

P.S. Stop expecting Madden to be drastically different. It simulates the same sport every year, people.

HollywoodRock

#15

HollywoodRock said:

Man, i love playing online Tiger Woods. My first T-Woods was TW tour 10, and playing it online against your buddies was awesome fun.. EA discontined online service for TW-10 and i understood that you had to purchase the tw-12 masters in order to play online. So i did. Somebody plz tell me if im wrong or not but TW-12 online is crap. Has a putt review which blows my mind. Means, if you choose, you can get help with your degree of angle for putt which sux big time. Also, no announcers to enhance the challenge of playing online. It is really not fun to play online anymore and i really enjoyed that emensely. I dont know if the PS3 online is any better but im trying to find out if it is exactly same at the Wii online. But, if it is like TW-10 online, im going to purchase the PS3 just so i can get the same satisfaction as i did with the TW-10 online.

Your opinon would be greatly appreciated.

Thx
HR

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