After last year's declining sales, up to 86% on the Nintendo Wii platform alone, Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12: The Masters come back with a vengeance. Augusta National is the biggest addition to this game but like always, this is one of the deepest golf experiences of all time. But is it worth it to buy this edition as well? Find out after the jump!
After scoring a hit on the Nintendo Wii with Tiger Woods PGA Tour 10, which came packaged with the Wii MotionPlus unit, sales plummeted last year either due to Tiger's transgressions off the course or to the lack of a packaged peripheral or possibly both. Even some combination of the two couldn't help EA as those couldn't be remedied. So what was the biggest sports game publisher to do with this edition: Swing for the fences.
EA scored a coup by finally luring the ultra conservative Augusta National golf club to have its course and tournament virtualized in video game format. They just never seemed to be the kind of people who would cater to the youth. They never get with modern times. They don't even let women into the club for chrissakes. But here they are, putting the most famous course and tournament into a video game. EA probably just paid them a boatload of money to do it but either way, we finally have the biggest omission from a sports video game…in the game.
The course itself is by far the most beautiful in the game. You can see the azaleas and bright green, beautifully kept course in its entirety in the game. When you play on other courses, such as the TPC, they really look dull compared to this. Especially on the Wii, where the differences are more stark due to the lower quality of graphics, Augusta really stands out. When things are in focus they just blow you away. Other ones may look a tad more realistic but the bright atmosphere of the Masters kept me coming back for more.
The career mode has been refashioned into "The Road to the Masters." You start as an amateur with the perceived ultimate goal to play in and eventually win the Masters. Unfortunately for the mode, things don't work out that way. Sure you have the option to work your way up through the tour to ultimately earn an invite. Or you can much more easily play a few Masters Moments to get there.
These consist of trying to recreate a shot such as Tiger Woods's famous one in 2005 or reenacting Jack's charge on the back 9 in 1986. But you don't actually play as those characters; you play as yourself. This may be a move by EA to make it so you're creating your own Masters Moments, but when put under the guise of recreating someone else's, it loses that potential. I just feel like some bozo who's a member of the course trying to hit the same shots to no avail. You don't actually have to make them in; just get close enough to say you almost did it a couple of times. The potential is there for this mode to be fantastic but it just isn't there yet. Maybe a little fine tuning next year will help it realize its potential.
But you only have to do three of these relatively easy challenges (Jack's is one of the hardest so don't worry about that one) to be invited, as an amateur, to the most exclusive professional golf tournament in the world. Zuh? It shouldn't work like that. With that in mind, after you go to the Masters, the mode loses all newness as it just reverts to acting like previous games' career modes. The Masters loses its appeal; you should only get invited there once you've achieved a decent amount of goals. I'm not saying you should have to win majors to get there, but let's be honest, not just any schmoe can invited to Augusta. Like Mike Francesa says, it's the hardest tournament to get into.
Jim Nantz has also joined the commentary team. That's nothing really to write home about. He really really loves the Masters as though it were his child so I guess that's why he's been added. I never had a problem with Feherty, his British snark always amused me. It always sounded like he was insulting me. But I guess Nantz is okay as long as he's not slurping the Masters. And then again there's always the mute button.
As for the gameplay, there really isn't much different. I haven't played recent iterations on the Wii admittedly but this one's controls are much tighter than they used to be. I used to have problems consistently hitting the ball straight but I immediately was able to do it in this version. I can only imagine that they are even tighter and user friendly with the Wii MotionPlus accessory.
As for the family modes, there's a new Boardwalk course in the Mini Golf mode. There's also Frisbee Golf, "Golf Party," and other mini games. I guess they're trying to get you to name your avatar Nucky. Obviously the family modes will be more of a draw on the ultra casual Wii platform so go and dive right in. I wish Speed Golf was still around no matter how dumb it is. IT WAS MY GAME! I WAS A CHAMPION!
All in all, this Tiger Woods iteration is the deepest in my opinion on this generation of consoles. The Masters and Augusta National finally add the authenticity that we've never fully had in the video game medium. Sure we always had Pebble Beach and St. Andrews, but not to sound like Jim Nantz, the Masters are the Masters. Augusta is Augusta. They're just something on a higher level. They're bigger than golf and now we finally have them in video game format.
Run off and enjoy folks, this is the deepest Tiger Woods ever and in the future it'll only get better.
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