Tiger Woods 14 Full Impressions

by
Posted March 25th, 2013 at 10:45 am

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The Tiger Woods PGA Tour series has been solid if unspectacular this generation carrying with it somewhat limited appeal. Hampered by a heavy reliance on downloadable content the justification to purchase yearly has waned considerably.

That won’t necessarily change with Tiger Woods 14. People who play yearly may not find as much value as novices. However for those who have skipped recent versions or who would be new to the series it can be easily recommended. 

While Tiger Woods 12 had the compelling draw of The Masters for the first time, and Tiger 13 attempted to create a new experience with the Legacy Challenge, it would take travelling many years farther in the past to find a golf game that captured my attention in the way that Tiger 14 has. Any assumption that a gimmicky element would be needed to create interest has been proven wrong by a product that simply delivers realistic and satisfying gameplay as accompanied by a rich and involving feature set. Feel free to check out a few gameplay videos (Career, Legends of the Majors, Live Tournament) on the Pastapadre Youtube Channel.

One very successful element introduced in Tiger 14 is the “Swing Style” feature which gives each current golfer a more personalized feel along with the ability to craft a swing style when creating new golfers. Now each individual is classified in the following categories: Type (Power or Control), Shape (Draw or Fade), Trajectory (Low, Medium, or High), and Handedness (Left or Right). The tutorial helps in getting a feel for some of the differences and the selection screen explains the choices. They can be changed later if so desired. Draws and fades are manageable this year but it can still be difficult to nail that stick movement.

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Legends of the Majors is the flashy new mode for this year. It involves playing through events from history within the confines of the time they took place. That means playing with the legends, old course designs, and equipment. The visual filter defines those time periods but feels out of place in a sense given the experience is otherwise all from the golfer’s perspective.

Some of the challenges are fairly easy like re-creating a shot, while others take more work such as matching a performance over several holes or a round. Whether they are overly frustrating or just tough remains to be determined. There are 62 challenges overall and most are worthwhile but there are some that clearly could have been omitted. Why am I being asked to play in 1922 as Rory McIlroy against Keegan Bradley? Legends of the Majors is a decent distraction – and going through the history of the sport is a valuable journey – but it’s not something that will hold much value outside of the initial play through.

The Live Tournaments online have been enhanced by adding more of the social element that had been lacking last year. There is of course still the traditional ways to play online but the Tournaments now offer the ability to see the shot arcs for up to an active 24 players on a hole and include group voice chat. I have no expectation of ever winning a public tournament, and that can still be discouraging in a sense, but setting them up with Clubs or friends makes for a fun experience regardless of performance level. Country Clubs have been expanded to 100 members and that too now features chat functionality.

Other additions of note are the LPGA tour, “Simulation” difficulty, and varied tee times that include night golf. Playing in nighttime conditions is more than just the darkness as the sound effects from the environment like the chirping birds are gone. It just has a new feel to it like playing on the historic courses provides in Legends of the Majors. EA probably should have taken sunglasses off golfers who wear them though when it turns dark out. I would not be the right person to assess the “Simulation” setting but from all other accounts it appears to provide the experience very talented players have been looking for.

Presentation would appear to be the weakness of Tiger 14. The commentary is bland, overly generic, and occasionally incorrect. The camera angles range from satisfactory to downright horrible. Quite often after taking a shot – particularly when putting – it immediately cuts to a camera angle that makes it impossible to actually tell what is happening. They may be meant to enhance the drama but all they do is remove oneself from the moment. The on-screen informational displays do well to communicate information with the leaderboard, scorecards, and Country Club stats but others seem pretty pointless – especially when the statistical leaders for a category are all the people who have yet to tee off.

Last year’s method of being able to earn DLC courses through time spent playing has been removed due to heavy criticism and problems with the implementation on the PS3. Though not necessarily the wrong decision EA should have provided some alternate method that worked instead of falling back on the old way of doing things where the only way to obtain them is by spending significant chunks of money.

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While the enjoyment being had with Tiger 14 may be partially attributed to having not invested much time with the series over the course of the generation – and particularly last year which just fell flat and was pushed aside quickly – it can’t be discounted due to just that. The addictive nature of the gameplay and strong depth of content could be realized by many. Tiger 14’s additions and improvements have the merit to be appreciated by the both the hardcore and more casual crowds and that is a balance that has been tough to come by in the past.

  • Keith.

    This game’s going to tank in sales — look for it to be reduced on Amazon by next week.

    Following the sales duds DS3 and Crysis 3, it’s no wonder that Riccotello bailed when he did. It’s sure going to be ugly when the quarterly financials are released.

    • BenD22

      I think EA knows theyve got a hit on their hands with this game. I bet it sells better then last year. No matter doesnt change that its a huge step up from Tiger 13 and well worth the money. But you have to come in always and take a shot as usual.

  • hoverment

    The demo and early release sold this one for me. I probably wasnt even going to buy it or at least wait for it to get cheaper but its a great game!

  • Seven18

    What is the password for your Country Club?

    • The password is padre. Join up! I’ve got a live tournament running through the end of tomorrow and we’ll have them regularly going forward.

  • I am very impressed, I usually purchase when the price drops but the demo made this an easy day 1 purchase for me. Simulation mode is amazing and frustratingly hard at the same time

  • Gex

    Good review. Just picked up my copy

  • ggunnerr

    I do think this is a really good game. That being said I purchased all the dlc courses on TW12, enjoyed earning them on TW13. Whatever happened to EA Season pass members being able to transfer dlc in Tiger that was talked about 2 years ago? I’ve spent a combined $180.00 the last two years $60 and $70 for games and $50 for dlc on TW12. I can’t justify adding another $120.00 to that total for a complete TW14 experience. There just isn’t that much difference in the other versions compared to this one for that cost. Thankfully EA season pass saved me some money as I was able to see it wasn’t worth the investment.

    BTW good write up Pasta, it is a great game for newbies or people who havent purchased a TW game.

  • MoneyMayweather

    I like last year’s version pasta I don’t know what you are talking about? but it was my first tiger woods pGA tour game ever. though.

    • That’s probably the difference there then. Having come off playing Tiger 12 made 13 not seem like it was offering much more.

  • I’m still playing 10, so I’m looking forward to this one after playing the demo.

  • Sweetps3GamerGirl

    After reading this, I think I may just get this game 🙂

  • Paul Hanlin Jr

    There are growing problems with the game being reported by OPSports readers; the greens are way slower than on TW13, even in tournament mode. Second, when rounds are finished, your golfer wins a tournament even as other CPU players score even lower. Last, in career mode – and this is a bug breaker – when you make the cut in a tournament the game determines sometimes that you don’t. Does EA even have a QA department here?

    • Keith.

      I’ve been reading reports about all of the bugs, too. Gonna be interesting to see how many get mentioned in reviews.

  • This review did a good job of pointing out the weakness in this game’s presentation. The camera cuts, particularly when putting, shatter the intimacy of the experience and take the player ‘out of the moment’, turning them into a TV spectator rather than a player. Gamers will react to this production choice differently, but for me, it’s a game killer.

    The game’s Executive Producer said they are considering a stationary putting camera (ie. no camera cuts at impact) for Follow cam, but made no promises. EA Sports is getting a lot of negative feedback about the dizzying putting camera production, but no promises have been made as to whether this camera change is possible for the patch. If it’s not, I’ll pass on Tiger Woods PGA Tour 14, which will be the first Tiger I haven’t purchased this generation.

  • For those who want to add me..BostonBrawlr