|System: Xbox 360, PS3, Wii|
|Dev: EA Sports|
|Pub: EA Sports|
|Release: March 29, 2011|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p|
The game's course selection disappointed me. You get sixteen courses to start from (in any HD console version) and you may purchase twenty more as DLC. Normally I wouldn't have a problem with this, but those twenty courses are actually part of the career mode. If you come upon a locked course over the course of your career, the game stops you and asks you if you want to purchase the course or simply skip it and move ahead. Skipping a course almost feels like time traveling, with this awkward gap sitting right in the middle of your progress. It feels almost as if EA is strong-arming you into purchasing the DLC. There is a correct way to integrate DLC into a sports title, and this is definitely not it. You might be better off purchasing the Wii version instead. It doesn't have any DLC, but it does come with twenty-five courses on disc instead of the HD version's sixteen.
Amidst all these new modes and the spiffy Masters paint job, there is one important new gameplay mechanic, the caddie. Your fully voice-acted caddie will now recommend shots to you whenever he can. These shots will come with a predefined club selection and directionality, and all you have to do is tweak the direction as you see fit and make sure your power is spot on to make the shot.
The coolest thing about your caddie is the fact that he isn't perfect. He too starts off pretty crappy, but he starts to learn as you play the courses. Eventually, your caddie will be recommending the best possible shots for you to take, presenting you with multiple options of many different difficulties that weigh risk and reward in a careful balance. Will you go for the extremely difficult shot that might score you an eagle, or will you settle for par and take the safe route? Your caddie knows best!
The caddie is also a welcome addition to the atmosphere of the game. While he can get a little repetitive at times, he basically converses with you like a normal human being when he explains the shots you can take. He is accompanied by colored overlays that detail exactly where the shot will go and how difficult it is to make it, but his presence is a delightfully human addition to the game. It makes the game feel more peaceful, and it's much easier to relax and take an extremely misaligned swing.
Overall, Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12: The Masters is more fun to play than any previous game in the series. The new caddie will help all players reduce their score, while the Masters-themed game modes will keep hardcore golf fanatics playing for some time. EA put a lot of thought into the gameplay and presentation, so it's a shame that they put almost no thought into the graphics.
While the game certainly is a more vibrant shade of green, and the new announcers do make the game sound better, most of the game still looks pretty generic. The crowds are unimpressive and their movements are incredibly stiff. Even the golfers look pretty bad compared to other current-gen sports titles. EA can boast all they want about 3D grass, but in the end, it sort-of looks like robots are golfing amongst a crowd of turn-of-the-century British street urchins.
Regardless, Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12 is a good game if you are in to that sort of thing. That's really the hook: EA pretty much figured that anyone who would be playing a golf game would probably be into golf. They loaded the game with a bunch of modes that please golf fanatics, and the game is better because of this. If you are looking for a good digital golf experience, you will be hard-pressed to find a better game than this. It's not perfect, but it's the best we have.
Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to put on some Pink Floyd and play eighteen quick holes. Oh yeah, that's the good stuff.
CCC Freelance Writer