Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12: The Masters Review for Xbox 360

Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12: The Masters Review for Xbox 360

A Golf Game for Golf Fans

I’m not a big golf fan, but I do know that golf is one of the only sports that is more fun to watch in video game form. Regardless of my apathetic stance to the sport in real life, I keep playing the Tiger Woods game series because there is a strange Zen-like addictive quality to them. Sinking a perfect shot on a nice sunny day is almost meditative in how relaxing and rewarding it is, but regardless of its therapeutic properties, it still does manage to get repetitive. If you trance out to one golf game, you’ve tranced out to them all. So the real question is: how does PGA Tour 12 set itself apart from the rest?

At first glance, it doesn’t seem all that different from previous entries in the series. The analog swing control scheme is still there, and if you prefer a more classic 90’s golf game feel, you can still use the three point click meter system to more accurately determine the power of your shot. You can still use the focus meter to make your shots more accurate, and colored grid overlays help you line up where your shots go. Online mode is still the focus of the series, but unfortunately you’ll still spend hours grinding your stats in a JRPG-like manner in order to get your golfer up to snuff for online tournaments. All the old modes return from previous installments, from Stroke Play offline to GamerNet community challenges online. In fact, the game itself is very much the same game all around.

Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12: The Masters Screenshot

Instead of re-inventing the wheel regarding gameplay, EA focused on the environment instead. This time, it’s all about The Masters, and every aspect of the game has been tweaked to pay homage to this grandest of golf tours. The announcers this time around are Jim Nantz and David Feherty, and they describe each hole on the iconic Augusta National course with a level of detail you would expect from actually watching the tour on Sunday TV. Nantz is supposedly one of the iconic voices of the sport, and I’ve been told it’s a real pleasure to have him in the game. Then again, I’m not a golf fan, so I can’t confirm how accurate this is.

The Augusta National course itself is perfectly replicated (or at least as far as I can tell from downloading maps of the course off the internet) as are all the other courses in the game. The appearance of the score cards has been changed to give off that Masters vibe. Even the grass in the game is greener than it has ever been, and now it’s rendered in 3D! That honestly might be a little excessive, but nothing is too good for the Masters!

Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12: The Masters Screenshot

New Masters-themed game modes have been added for the golf fanatic as well. Masters Moments is a challenge mode that tasks you with recreating some of the more impressive shots of Masters history. Considering these are some of the most impressive shots the sport of Golf has ever seen, the mode is not easy. Even so, there are only nine challenges to choose from, and while you will be practically eating your controller in frustration as you try to triumph over each one, the mode is still too small and lacks any real replay value.

There is also a “Tiger at the Masters” mode, which allows you to control Tiger Woods through his Masters career, in an attempt to meet or beat his score and get all four of his wins yourself. The mode is a great addition for golf buffs, since it’s the closest thing the game has to a story mode. Aside from the videos and cutscenes featuring Tiger himself, this is where you will feel closest to the golfing great. It’s unfortunate that, like Masters Moments, it’s rather short and has little replay value.

Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12: The Masters Screenshot

If you start to get sick of the Augusta National course where all this Masters stuff takes place, you can tackle the game’s career mode, which is one of the most in-depth modes the franchise has seen to date. Appropriately titled “Road to the Masters,” this mode lets you take control of your own golfer as he shoots for a green jacket of his own. At the beginning of the mode, you pretty much suck. Your shots will be off-course and you’ll struggle toward placing in even the lowest of local events. Don’t worry, though, you will get better. You’ll progress through your local tournaments, pass Q school, head to the PGA, and eventually take on the Masters yourself. For all of this you are rewarded with nothing more than a congratulations screen. Lame ending, EA. Lame ending.

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.

Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12: The Masters Screenshot

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.

Movements are stiff and faces are blank. The only impressive graphical aspect is the 3D grass. 4.5 Control
The controls are the same as they were back in PGA Tour 11, and that’s a good thing. The new caddie only makes the game easier and more interesting. 3.4 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Jim Nantz and David Feherty are perfect announcers for the game. Perhaps that is because this is actually their job. 4.0 Play Value
You’ll spend tons of time attempting to beat the online GamerNet challenges, and pushing yourself closer to The Masters in career mode. The only annoying part of this game is its DLC course selection. 4.0 Overall Rating – Great
Not an average. See Rating legend below for a final score breakdown.

Review Rating Legend
0.1 – 1.9 = Avoid 2.5 – 2.9 = Average 3.5 – 3.9 = Good 4.5 – 4.9 = Must Buy
2.0 – 2.4 = Poor 3.0 – 3.4 = Fair 4.0 – 4.4 = Great 5.0 = The Best

Game Features:

  • Play the Hallowed Grounds of Augusta National Golf Club – For the first time ever in Tiger Woods PGA Tour franchise history, players will now be able to compete at Augusta National Golf Club. Experience the historic holes that comprise Amen Corner and make a run at capturing the distinctive Green Jacket.
  • Masters Moments – Relive and play through memorable, historic moments of the Masters. Take the challenge and see where you measure up against the greats who have played in this legendary tournament.
  • Broadcast Presentation – Jim Nantz teams up with David Feherty to lead the all-new broadcast presentation package. Enhanced visuals showcase high-fidelity character models and course details that bring to life all the sights and sounds of a round of golf at Augusta National. For the first time in franchise history, the game will feature 3D grass, which will appear and respond more like actual grass.
  • Climb the World Ranking – Feel the pressure of an all-important putt while working your way through the amateur tour, the Nationwide Tour, and Q-School. Perform well enough to earn a spot on the PGA Tour! In Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12: The Masters, the all-new career mode closely mirrors the real-life journey of an amateur golfer as they strive to make it onto the PGA Tour.
  • The Caddie Experience – Play like a true pro with a caddie alongside, assisting and supporting your every swing. The caddie will evaluate all pre-shot factors, such as wind, lie, and yardage, to provide a recommended shot. As your caddie’s knowledge of each course increases, he will level up through “Course Mastery,” making him even more valuable to your success.

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