Over the last few years we have seen the team at EA Sports venture down new paths with Tiger Woods PGA Tour, revamping controls, bringing in new game play modes, and we have even seen them branch out into browser-based games. This year’s title offers many gameplay options and new challenges when on the course. With Tiger Woods PGA Tour 14 we are seeing the lessons and trials over the last few years come together in one big, connected and enjoyable game.
There are three really big changes and additions to this year’s game. The first being the inclusion of Legends of the Majors mode. Similar to Masters Moments and Tiger’s Legacy, Legends of the Majors mode has you travel back through time reliving big moments in PGA history. These pick up and play, scenario driven challenges will have you taking control of both past and present PGA stars. Challenges vary in type, from straight forward rounds of golf set in an era as far back as the 1800’s with a legend from the time, or you might have to relive a hole from the early days of golf with a current PGA star. Like the similar modes the last few seasons, Legends of the Majors is very enjoyable. It’s nice being able to jump into the action and do more then the normal rounds of golf. The team also did a great job capturing the look and feel of the different eras, down to historically-accurate equipment and visual stylings.
The game features nine legends, from Nicklaus and Palmer to Hogan and Player. Each legend has their own unique and personalized swing style. As you play and unlock more of Legends of the Majors, you’ll have access to both the legendary golfers and also the ability to play in the different eras. So if you want to have some fun and play a round during the 1800’s, with the era true physics and equipment you’ll be able to once you unlock it.
The next big change this year is the inclusion of all four majors. For the first time you’ll be able to go for the Grand Slam by playing in The Masters Tournament, U.S. Open, Open Championship and PGA Championship. Besides those tournaments you can also go through an entire career in the LPGA. These new tournaments and career options further the realism of Tiger Woods PGA Tour’s career modes. And to help your career feel even more real the qualification process has been revamped to authentically replicate the real world PGA Tour. You’ll need to now work through the new Q-School qualifying rules for a shot of the Web.com Tour to earn yourself a spot on the PGA Tour.
The third big addition is that of Connected Tournaments. Similar to the Global Events found in SSX, Connected Tournaments pits you against all other Xbox Live or PSN gamers. Tournaments range in difficulty and also length. Some are full rounds while others might be only five holes. Each tournament is timed and your score will be put up against all others. These Connected Tournaments are a blast and they are so addicting. What is really neat is you’ll see ball tracks of those also playing alongside at the same time, and you can even talk smack with each other as you play.
Beyond the Connected Tournaments the Country Clubs have been greatly improved. Membership to Country Clubs can now reach 100 and there is also a Country Club communication channel, allowing members to chat no matter where they are in the game. It’s obvious that the team has learned a lot from Tiger Woods PGA Tour Online and its great seeing a lot of the social aspects of that game show up in the full game.
Now on to the minor yet still important changes to this year’s title. The difficulty of this years title has drastically changed. This year no matter what difficulty you play on you’ll be experiencing new physics and the addition of swing styles. When combined you get a not only a realistic and unique experience from golfer to golfer, but also a new challenge on the course. I found the new physics to be difficult to master at first. Even on the Pro setting there is a bit of a learning curve. Tempo seems to be much more important this year and not having a smooth solid swing will result in many swings, especially putts coming up short. While I enjoy a good challenge, especially when you sink a long putt for instance, I felt like the difficulty levels weren’t matching their desired setting. It felt like each was harder then their name represents and from the experiences of prior games. For those looking for a real challenge there is now a simulation difficulty.
Pins are back again, but it seems they are much more difficult to come by. Last year I never had an issue having a ton of pins to use or at least a ton of refills to keep them active. This year I have yet to be given any pins and buying the pin packs with the in-game coins is very pricey.
Presentation has also received a sizable overhaul. As you play you’ll be treated to tons of stats. You’ll get stats from the current round you are playing, from your career and even how you are stacking up against others in your Country Club. The amount of different stats and standings is actually a bit mind boggling at times. It seems there is also a bit more banter between Jim Nantz and David Feherty this year, but it’s not very smooth. Many times Nantz makes a throw to Feherty but he never responds and then the commentary moves on.
Visually the game remains stunning. For the most part visual changes are subtle at best. But there is one big visual change and that really makes the game come to life, that is the dynamic time of day. You’ll see the sun and lighting change as the round unfolds, and the visuals at dawn and dusk are just amazing. There is also the addition of night golf this year, which is more for fun than anything else.
Tiger Woods PGA Tour 14 might not feature the major leaps forward we have seen in the recent years, but it does refine those major leaps and brings in new features that gives golf fans an amazing experience. The addition of legends is great and the Legend of the Majors is a fun mode. And the legendary fun gets better once you unlock the different eras to play whenever you desire. The new Connected Tournaments are also a welcomed addition. It’s a fun and simple social mode that becomes very addicting. Those of you looking for a new challenge will probably enjoy the new simulation mode and the new Swing Styles and physics. For the more casual fan you might be a bit frustrated at first as the changes to the game’s mechanics require a bit of learning. Tiger Woods PGA Tour 14 is another stellar title in the franchise and I see it being a great foundation as we move into the next generation of video game consoles.
A copy of Tiger Woods PGA Tour 14 for Xbox 360 was provided to us for this review from EA Sports