As a fan of most sports-based games, I was pretty excited to try out Tiger Woods PGA Tour 13. I have played golf in the past and do enjoy the occasional trip to the driving range, so I’m not a complete outsider here.
What you notice right from is that the start menu is pretty all over the place. It’s a relatively organised chaos. When you get used to it, it’s fine but you can miss various parts of the game because they are hidden below where you think the drop down menu ends, or is in a different category.
My initial thought was that I would play a few games at a driving range to hopefully complete some sort of tutorial before I tackled the rest of the game, however I was shocked to find that there was no driving range or tutorial whatsoever. Eventually when I did start a career it was only upon my third event that I got a very brief quick run through of the controls, but by then you’ve taught yourself what to do as best as possible. I ended up having to go to the EA Sports website just to get a video tutorial, which is ridiculous. Not only was there not much of a tutorial, there was also a lot of golf specific jargon that was used without explanation. I had to Google some of the words just to work out what the hell was going on, and what I was supposed to be doing.
Once you get better, the game’s pretty fun. When you start getting good enough to gain experience points for hitting nice shots and finishing with par or better it is great (and just have to add it in somewhere, I did in fact get a hole in one, which was pretty cool!). However, the difficulty picking up the control scheme and associated tactics makes it almost impossible to play multiplayer.
The total-swing control has the joystick taking over from the tradition system of button-presses. The system is quite difficult. There should have been an option to go back to the traditional arcade control style, at the very least. Smacking the ball down the fairway was easy enough, as long as you didn’t hook the ball, particularly in high winds, but putting was the biggest test of patience I’ve experienced in a game since…I don’t know. Probably ever.
Career mode was pretty standard, with the ability to create your own player and then earn experience to increase your skills and climb the ranks from amateur to pro and ultimately win the masters, earning sponsorships and getting better equipment along the way. The mini-games which served as training rounds on the course were fun, but the actual competition rounds took a long time. Golf in itself is a game that you set aside an entire day to play. The aim to make the game true to life meant that playing three rounds of 18 holes in a masters tournament was a lengthy undertaking. Though there isn’t really much you could do about this without detracting the full Masters experience from the game, I suppose, but to be honest, the target audience for this game is not necessarily going to be going out and playing a round of golf, so I question whether or not it was necessary making the competitions so lengthy.
Something I have previously praised EA for on this site, was somewhat of a let down this time around. The commentary was so generic. I’m aware that it’s golf and commentary in the game is monotonous at best, but the fact remains that this is a video game, not an afternoon at the local fairway. It needed to be a lot more entertaining and upbeat than what it was.
To make the game more social, you could join a country club, which I thought was a really good idea. You’ve the option to join a public club (which I did), or make a private one with friends. You can compete with the people in your own club, but also against the other clubs out there. If you had a group of friends who all had the game, this would be even more fun than what I experienced just playing publically.
The online multiplayer consisted of daily, weekly and club tournaments that you could participate in. It was really hard. It wasn’t a great self-esteem booster…but it would be really fun if you did have some skills. That is where the creation of country clubs was an asset as you could compete with a group of people that were more on your level, but still competitive.
Additional to career and online play, you also have the option to play out momentous moments in Tiger Woods’ career. You start in his toddler years but progress all the way through his pro career (minus the scandals). The downside of this section was that although it was interesting to find out about where he started and be a part of his climb up the ranks, it was a huge investment of time. More dialogue could have been used to skip over a few things. And again, it was unnecessarily difficult in places. Right at the start as well…further adding to frustrations with the game. Of course, I was also disappointed that there was no sexting round.
Overall, the game did have some fun, but also had some really tedious moments. If there were less rounds I feel that the game would be much more enjoyable, and definitely I think an update should be put out to include either a manual type tutorial or a driving range with some sort of coaching, particularly to help with the jargon and what each change makes to the ball, instead of just taking a wild swing at the ball. For someone who enjoys golf games, I’d say the game was still worth it; there are some good innovations that add a level of interest to the overall game play. If you are just trying to dip your toe into the world of birdies, pitches and greens, then I’d maybe try a more user-friendly game.