#2 of 2011 – Tiger Woods 12: The Masters

Posted January 4th, 2012 at 12:15 pm

Last year NBA 2K11 transcended the typical sports game genre by beginning to tap into the rich history of the league and featuring Michael Jordan – resulting in a special feel to the edition of the series. With Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12: The Masters it was the inclusion of Augusta National, which had never before been featured in a video game, that took the series to new heights. It may only be a one-year bump but Tiger 12 was one of the most compelling sports games of the year possibly even for those who haven’t been a fan of golf games in the past. 

The ranking of games in the best of 2011 list is based on number of factors including the personal amount of enjoyment had with a particular title, whether advertised features were fully delivered, post-release support, community interaction and communication, overall gameplay experience, feature set, and online play performance. Again this is largely a personal take and one with the advantage of tracking the games beyond just the release frame and does not act as some sort of recap of those with the highest scores on Metacritic. The analysis is weighted heavily towards those high in fun factor while considering them as a whole and compared relatively to the field.

Augusta National was meticulously crafted in Tiger 12 – a necessity for its inclusion and a reward for those who will never physically get to play there. It was especially difficult too, which was the case with putting in general, but the rewarding feeling that would come with even pulling off a par was fantastic. The ambiance of playing the course and recognizing every little aspect from having seen on TV was well worth all that effort and even golfers have since stated they used Tiger to prepare for playing different courses including The Masters.

It was a bounce-back year in just about every regard for the Tiger Woods series. Sales had fallen off drastically and interest had been waning as had Woods’ performance on the golf course (when he wasn’t missing tournaments completely due to injury). The Masters allowed for the series to recover and sell based off the golf course rather than Tiger’s name. Releasing shortly before The Masters began was perfect timing for the series to capitalize on the excitement.

Other valuable new features included online “Live Tournaments”, Road to the Masters career mode, and the introduction caddies – the latter of which helped make the game significantly more accessible. Not being able to turn them off completely though led to some predictable grumblings from the hardcore crowd as the option should have been available. Commentary and broadcast presentation were somewhat bland as well. The good vibes around Tiger 12 didn’t include PC/Mac version however which was a complete mess.

Still probably the biggest complaint about the Tiger Woods series relates to downloadable content. Courses were held back as pre-order bonuses, for the collector’s edition, or just to sell as add-ons. Unfortunately for career mode not having certain courses meant being forced to skip events along the way. It cost $35 to obtain every extra course available or they could be bought individually for $4 each.

Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12: The Masters leveraged the addition of Augusta National perfectly. Intense moments on the course came with the exhilaration of success or frustration of failure being amplified more so than ever before. EA Sports will have a difficult time replicating the experience of Tiger 12 – but for one year at least the series was able to emerge from the pack of ‘also-ran’ sports titles and shine.

Earlier Year-in-Review Pieces
•Community Choice Award Winners
•The Biggest Stories of 2011
•#2: Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12: The Masters
•#3: Madden NFL 12
•#4: MLB 11: The Show
•#5: NBA 2K12
•#6: WWE All-Stars
•#7: NCAA Football 12
•#8: NHL 12
•#9: Fight Night Champion
•#10: MLB Bobblehead Pros