Reviews: Tiger Woods PGA TOUR 12: The Masters
I’ve decided that I play far too many games to not be doing some sort of game review. I work at a game publishing company and get paid to try and maintain one of these monstrosities. So why not? Worst that can happen is these can be merely therapeutic.
My reviews will not include a number system. But there will be a handy visual aid at the bottom. I also will take screenshots for PC games and some moderately nice shots of console games. Regardless of your taste in video games I suspect I’ll be able to create a relatable explanation for any titles I review.
The first, and for a long time last, golf game I ever played was on the Sega Genesis. I’m not aware of the title, I do know the case was green and it had a yellow “tab” on the edge. I at the time knew nothing of golf and was amazed at how easily I could maintain a high score. While my job puts me alongside an online golf MMO I still find myself attracted to the console variety. I started up on Tiger Woods with last years Tiger Woods 11. It featured Tiger woods and a young Rory Mcllory, someone who took my interest for Golf and decided it would be best spent making them millions of dollars. A smart move. So this is now my second dip into the TW franchise, the first game I got for free and enjoyed for a solid month. This second title I received (for around 5 dollars) has been out since March 29th, 2011 and 11 days later here we are. Now we are both on even ground for my knowledge of the series (minimal), my history with the genre (slightly above average), my financial investment (minimal) and my knowledge of the topic (average). So let’s begin!
What’s to like? Well for sure one of the biggest changes for me was switching from 3-click putting, a system where you click once to get a bar moving up, then click again at the desired strength, and finally click a third time for accuracy. This system of putting is in the game but it is a token gesture that will leave you putting like Charlie Sheen after an exceptionally hard night of drinking. Ironically when I started using this system of putting I had dressed my character to look exactly like sheen, as I switched from 3-Putt to the games preferred putting *stick* system I dressed appropriately. My impression of the game was so bad from my bad putting experience I nearly stopped playing on the first day. But I decided to give their “fancy smancy” putting system a chance. I went from missing putts at 10 feet to sinking them at 50. It wasn’t a surefire thing but the feeling of putting with this new system is incredibly satisfying. I found myself bobbing up and down after every solid putt, throwing my first in the air, and occasionally flipping the bird at the air as if my CPU opponents would see “I am the beginning of your end.”
Another thing that made me as happy as a clam is their Road to the Masters mode. You start off as a nobody, some idiot with a set of golf clubs and a really friendly caddie (more on that later). You work up from golfing alone without a crowd to hundreds of people cheering you on as you utterly crush Y.E. Yang. But it’s not all ass kicking, well ok it mostly is, but there are also an additional 2 challenges alongside every tournament. 3 Par Contests, 4 Par Challenges, 5 Par Birdie Chains, hit X shots with a combined Y or less yards to the hole, and many many more. While I occasionally skip the lower tier tournaments I’m always doing the challenges. They are a treat and they make me feel like an utter god of golf. What’s that Paula Creamer? You think you can take me? I am going to destroy you. I don’t know much about golf, as I’ve said before, but playing these famous folks head to head is incredibly fun. A few times I’ve been stuck in sudden death with one of them for many holes and can feel the sweat beading on my brow. If you get this far into the game with your stats starting to take thousands of EXP to rise you really find yourself invested. It’s an intensity I don’t tend to feel outside of Team Fortress 2.
The commentating is fairly great. I don’t know who the two guys talking are, I imagine they are important people, but regardless I enjoy them bantering as I play. I’ve started to hear repeat commentary but considering I’m 2 tournaments away from completely finishing my first fully year of the Masters that’s pretty impressive. I can think of at least one time where I missed a 40 yard putt and the guy made the comment “He didn’t read that at all!” I responded “I’ll read my driver right up your ass.” Course it probably didn’t help that I nearly lost the masters with that putt. (Spoiler: I won). I’ve turned off commentating a few times now and then turned it right back on, I’m bothered by repeat phrases but the extra noise is very nice.
The controls in the game are fantastic. There are few feelings as good as hitting an unlikely shot, setting all the little nobs and clicks to get what hopefully will be “that one”. The following was my first eagle, I felt like a god amongst men when this sank. Apologies for the resolution I’ll see about making the rest HD uploads.
Similarly sinking chip after overshooting the green is really great. What seems like the end of a reign ends up turning around immediately and generally the momentum carries on for a few more holes. The first Hole in One, which sadly I can’t upload at the moment, was so exciting I nearly fell off my bed (literally).
So the controls are great, the commentating is great, Road to the Masters is fun, and the putting grows on you like a barnacle on a whale. This is starting to seem like a paid advertisement more than a review and I feel it’s best to be honest and present the things that have jumped out at me and kept this from being a must have for all.
What to dislike? Dislike might sound like a mild word but I am hoping to keep hate for things that truly enrage me when writing a review. Most of the problems with this game grate on you for the first day or two but you soon forget them. Or at least that was my experience, it’s certainly a toss up. The first thing that drove me bonkers is the caddie. The first issue with him is that he is one gabby Cathy, this guy will talk to you constantly. He doesn’t say “Sir I think a 9 Iron would be great here.” He tells you about sticks, and buttons, and the PlayStation GamerNet. I’m sorry, I was expecting some dude to talk to me about golf not PlayStation. This annoyed me so bad that I ended up turning off his talking. Now he was simply giving me, generally, sound advice for each hit. That’s good, I’m sad that I now have a mute caddie but if I heard him mention the controller one more time I feared I might digitize and murder him.
This might not be common knowledge but breaking the 4th wall is a terrible idea. You are not Deadpool, stop doing this. Had this caddie talked like a real world caddie with real world advice adding it alongside True-Aim would have been a golden ticket to awesome. Instead you have a video game manual standing beside you and I imagine that’s why so many folks have complained about his presence (outside of tournament players who are upset it lessens the difficulty).
This feature nearly sent me back to 11 or to another game entirely. But I gave him time, after a few tournaments I found myself going “Good idea, Jeeves, but I think I’ll go here.” or “Excellent, Jeeves! That is a good place to hit!” Did I mention I named him Jeeves? Either way he has become a very strong part of my game as I try and reduce the perks from the medium difficulty setting. There is a trophy for getting a hole in one by using his advice, it is currently my only hole in one and as mentioned before it nearly broke my neck but it earned him a reprieve from death.
As mentioned previous the 3-Click Putting is gimped hard, when I say hard I mean it. Imagine putting after you just drank 10 shots of Jägermeister. I was missing putts by such massive margins that my score was routinely in the positives. I appreciate a game reminding me I’m a terrible putter but it was incredibly demotivating. If you are a 3-Click lover, this game will have you incredibly sad. However switching to the games preferred system will net you some genuinely gorgeous putts and make you feel like a true contender. In general though, games shouldn’t include features if those features are going to be so utterly uncared for.
Another oddity that caught my attention was the circle-jerk nature of the EA logo spam. In between loading screens? EA! Wearing most of the hats, pants, shirts, shoes, socks, gloves, balls, clubs, shafts, or handles? EA! Checking out the scoreboard?
EA! That logo is everywhere! When you startup the game they shout it at you! When you are in menus its scrolling around, or spinning, or it’s in the name of every feature. I feel like Jim Carrey in 23, they had pushed it so hard I worried they thought I’d forget. This is something EA needs to stop doing, the logo porn is so intense that you really need to play the game just to see how much it comes up. If you drank each time the word “EA” came up you would die in 5 minutes.
There are some small immersion breakers in the game, when you are training alone your avatar will wave at nobody. This seems a little nit pickish but it would have been nice if my character didn’t go pageant queen when he’s alone on the Whistling Straits. I must admit though, if I was playing on that course I might fake being a professional too. These little immersion breakers would be great little fixes for future releases, help create a little more depth. This goes back also to the Caddie, make the caddie act like he doesn’t realize it’s a game. Heck I’d like to hear about how much he thinks my opponent is a tool, you know, to motivate me. “Bah! Don’t worry sir, everyone knows Anthony Kim has VD.” Jeeves is truly a good friend.
Misconceptions and Oddities? One of the biggest criticisms about this game at the moment is the monstrous amount of DLC. There are more DLC courses and content than actually exists in the game on the day of release. As someone who works in the F2P publishing industry that doesn’t shock me altogether much, complaining that this game didn’t feel worth the money would be quite unrealistic and rude of me. Albeit I spent very little on it, but even at the pre-order price of 40 dollars it would have made me quite happy.
There is no necessity to buy any of the DLC, in fact it could be in your benefit not to. The Road to the Masters has DLC courses strewn throughout it that you can skip. Users have been giving the game some harsh reviews because they erroneously believed that not having these courses hurt your ranking; they do not. Not having them means less chances for you to get a poor score and lower your ranking. But I’d be remiss if I didn’t purchase Wolf Creek out of principle. (Wolf Creek might be the only course in the world outside of St. Andrews that I am certain to play a round on before I die, it’s just so…everything).
At one point the game told me “You are utterly kicking the crap out of everyone, would you like to crank up the difficulty?” I thought telling me to make the game harder was a bit odd. No offense but I’m here to play it on my own terms. It didn’t force me too however, the AI doesn’t rubber band, and there are no blue shells, so this might be the most nit picky of things that jumped out at me. Actually, scratch that, there is something that I must point out before finishing this review.
What the hell is this? Did the game honestly just give me an advertisement for insurance? I understand people need to make money, I understand that every single course charges EA a licensing fee, but holy giggity goo, what the fuuuu. This isn’t even for any of the DLC courses, this is one that came in the game, that same game that’s priced at 59.99.
I’m the kind of guy who would pay X dollars a year to watch a show at any time I like, without any commercials, instead of being pushed a bunch of shit I will never buy. I feel the same way about games, if you honestly can’t afford to make the game without advertisements than either reduce the costs (likely in graphics), raise the price, or add DLC. There is no reason a game should be 60 dollars, with another 50 dollars in DLC, and have that scary gal from whatever insurance she supports (I couldn’t read the URL and I don’t watch television much).
Oddly enough, had they had an insurance sponsor challenge in game I would have eaten it up like a consumer whore. But that’s not what happened, this didn’t add anything to the game, it was just obnoxious. I know those Nike competitions were trying to sell me something, but I had fun while they did.
So I suppose after this wall of text I should have some sort of easy TL;DR that points people in my honest opinion. I would have to say that “Tiger Woods PGA TOUR 12: The Masters” is a pretty good game. I wouldn’t say it’s great, but I am thinking about playing it when this review is done. I hope I can say that about every game I review but considering I’m one of those suckers who bought Naughty Bear, I know there will be heartbreak in my future.
If you can get this game for between 20 and 30 dollars and you like golf games I imagine you’ll have a good time. The first few hours and perhaps the first day will make you made and that is a good example of bad game design. But once those glaring annoyances start to wash into the background you’ll find it becoming more and more entertaining. Got Gamefly? Put it on your GameQ. But I could never honestly suggest paying full price for this. Annual sports games should be no more than 40 dollars. I understand the cost problem of golf games but these sort of titles should make their money from quantity rather than punching the user in the face with a AAA cost.
It’s fun, it could be better, but it could be much much worse. Trust me.
“Tiger Woods PGA TOUR 12: The Masters”
PS. My PSN is theultimateend if you want to add me. If you play the above game and would like to kick my ass at it feel free to drop me a line there .