Reviewed: April 13, 2011
Released: March 29, 2011
May I present to you, The MASTERS. Well, The Masters as best as Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12 can deliver. When I hear those words, The Masters, all I can think about are Jack and Arnold getting ready to hit those first tee shots and all the beautiful views of the illustrious and well know course that you only hear extravagant stories about. Finally, the most prestigious event in golf history is on a golf game! Move over Ryder Cup; now all of us can live out our dreams and reenact all of our favorite Masters moments and start our own careers and pave our own way and make Masters history. EA has brought out all the stops to make this yearís Tiger Woods one to remember.|
The biggest change in Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12: The Masters gameplay from last year is the addition of a caddie. What I love about this is that they didn't design him to make you shoot the perfect round! He never gives you a wrong shot or bad advice but sometimes his choices are not the best shot you can or should take. Sometimes you have room to go for it when he doesn't think you can. One thing he does do is help speed up play for you by picking the club and setting the target and club grip, so all you have to do is swing away. Combined with the new speed-advance button you can finish a four round tournament in about 80-90 minutes.
Additionally, when you start knocking off a varied list of course-specific achievements and level up your course mastery, your caddie grows more confident and starts picking better shots for you. It is the perfect golfer caddie interaction. He advises but you make the shots that can be remembered as one of the most unbelievable shots of all time or why would he even try that from that angle. This is as real as any video game can get to simulating what it is like for every real pro golfer out there. Or if you just want the same old solitary PGA experience you can easily dismiss your caddie and do it all yourself.
PGA Tour 12 has plenty of pressure moments where you can use your Focus to help calm you down, narrow your target, or boost the power and spin of your shot. Things get seriously tough when you play in official tournaments and Focus is all but disabled except for putt previews. You donít realize how much you have come to rely on that post-shot spin until itís taken away from you. Even worse is when you have used all your focus and are looking at making a 20-foot put without a putt preview line. It really makes you feel like you are in the moment and adds plenty of tension to these pressure shots.
PGA Tour 12 has also added the ability to customize and decorate your bag tag with pins. The pins don't add to your game but serve more as bragging rights. You receive pins from bombing a drive over 360 yards, or for getting a large amount of birdies, eagles, or aces, to winning your first tournament. This along with choosing which clubs you want from the sponsors who want you to endorse their product, keeping in mind to get paid you have to play rounds with the sponsors equipment, allow you to put together a bag that will help take your game to the next level just like the pros.
The PS Move isn't a new addition compared to last year, but this is the first year that I have had the opportunity to play with the Move. When your Move controller is on, you have the option to use the Move or wireless controller before your round loads. You cannot switch from Move back to wireless controller or vice versa half way through the round. So on your first Move round be ready to score really high and be a little frustrated at times, but hey that is golf for you. It was unbelievably fun and frustrating at the same time! At times I was cussing after a horrible shot, then turn around and start strutting in my living room after an awesome shot just like I do in real golf.
The game recommends you use the PS Move Navigator, mostly for menu and pre-shot game navigation, but itís not required. You can still use your DualShock3 and then just swing away with the Move like a regular club. The controller allows you to pick the club, draw or fade, and angle you want to aim your shot. After you have all that set up point the Move down and swing away like you would on the golf course. It was so much easier to hit my driver and irons straight than it was with just playing with the wireless controller. The analog stick allows you to move to the left or right easier when taking the club back and swinging forward than the Move did.
The part that makes the Move like real golf is the putting. Yes, the whole drive for show and putt for the dough rings loudly with the Move. You actually have to put a full putting swing when putting with the Move compared to just pulling back the stick and pushing forward. There is a lot more room for error with the Move and allows you to push or pull any number of putts even the close ones. The Move captures your swing motions surprisingly well but it still isn't perfect with reading when you might roll your wrist over too much or have your club lag behind you too much and cause you to open your hips too much to really hit an errant shot. Have fun and feel what it would be like to really play on your favorite course, so Grip It and Rip It!
The whole career mode is built around you working your way up to getting a chance to compete in The Masters. You create your character and start your career in amateur leagues and work your way on qualifying for the next step. The first big step is qualifying for Q school. This is a golf series that you have to complete before making it big as a pro. When you make it on the Pro Tour you have to take it slow and compete in tournaments to qualify for other tournaments and when you have gained enough skill and back it up with great tournament finishes you wait and see if you get that invitation that every golfer dreams of, the invite to The Masters.
What I love about this compared to previous versions is that you are working for a goal like every real pro golfer and not just competing in tournament after tournament and then when the year is over you start it all over again. I feel that it helps you deal with the receptiveness of playing round after round which is a nice change of pace from previous years. For those of you who just want to play as Tiger and don't really care about starting a career, there are also the usual quick play modes where you can chose to play a round on any course you want. Now, I am not sure how I feel about The Masters course and the Par 3 tournament being unlocked right away but it is and allows you to just go straight to the courses that you went out and bought the game for.
There are also nine different "Masters Moments." This might be my feature of the game. These are the moments where you get to reenact some of the greatest moments in Masters history, from Phil Mickelson's unbelievable shot on 13 in 2010, or Tigers amazing chip that ran forever and finally fell in the whole in 2005 to the Golden Bears amazing three hole run in 1986. You get the chance to pass the moment by hanging close to what they did or master it by equaling or bettering it! Finally you get the opportunity to play as Tiger Woods through his four Masters wins having to match or beat his scores for each round. If you wanted The Masters you will have plenty of opportunity to play this course in its entirety in numerous ways! Every golfers dream has come true with this version of PGA Tour.
One of the greatest additions to this yearís game that will get overlooked by most causal fans, is the iconic voice of The Masters, Jim Nantz. He is teamed up with David Feherty and they give you plenty of great vocal moments throughout the game. Just like in previous years, Feherty gives you descriptions of the hole and on some will give you a little more detail and explain how the hole came to be or was named. If you don't care and just want to play you can always skip over that part but sometimes I caught myself just listening and was pretty impressed by how the holes came to be and were modified to keep up with technology in todayís game.
Just like any other golf game the commentary does get a little repetitive, but you can only have so many sayings here and there for the same type of shot that is shot over and over again in a prerecorded studio. The only problem I had was that when you finally do win The Masters, I didn't feel like it was a huge monumental moment like in real life. The commentary was just like any other ending to a hole on the 18th of Augusta National. I was a little disappointed that there wasn't something along the lines of, "And he has done it! He has won The Masters against all odds!" Overall though the commentary was great and the fact that when you address the ball the gallery goes from a little chatty to silent so all you hear are the birds and wind really puts you in that moment.
I had the opportunity to play this game on two different types of televisions, an LCD and a Plasma. There were very different views on the graphics based on the TV I was playing on. Regardless of the TV the game only plays up to 720p and is not 3D ready Ė surprising since the real Masters is being broadcast by ESPN in 3D this year. You still deal with issues like jaggies on the outlines of the characters, and textures seem to only be present when in proximity of your golfer. What I mean by that is if you are on the fairway you see blades of grass when you look down at the ball to check your lie but if you are just looking towards the hole there is no texture in the rough or in the trees.
Now the colors are unbelievably realisic on the plasma and when you play the Masters on a television with a minimum 2 million to 1 contrast ratio look out! Absolutely beautiful! The colors on the LCD were a lot duller due to the contrast ratio being much lower. A lot of the flaws were hidden with the plasma while the LCD brought them out even more. When you are getting ready to play just keep in mind on what to expect according to the television you are using.
When considering Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12 think about what you are getting yourself into. I would say that 98% of you are going to buy this game to play all the rounds you can at Augusta National. That was the main reason I wanted to play this game. You will not be disappointed at all with what this game offers. With the Masters Moments, Par 3 challenge, Tiger Mode, and just being able to play it at will you will get more than your fair share of Augusta! If you are a big fan of the career mode and completing the entire experience be ready to spend some extra cash to get all the courses. The career mode cleverly incorporates a lot of DLC into the PGA schedule to where you can't enter in some of the tournaments unless you purchase a specific course.
There are 19 additional courses available so plan on spending $80+ more dollars for the full PGA Tour 12 experience. These extra courses arenít required and you can just as easily skip any events you donít want to purchase. I elected to skip these and not spend the extra money and while doing so I felt a little cheated. This is my only real problem with the game. $60 is a lot for a game, even when it does come with 16 amazing courses, but when you have that many courses being offered for extra money, it seems just a bit greedy, especially if you bought DLC courses for previous installments.
Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12: The Masters is really not that much different from years past but the additions this year really have you thinking, "What else can they really do to make this game any better?" I love the new caddie system and how he has your name on his back. The Move is a great switch up and will really test how good you are at swinging a virtual club rather than flicking a stick. The fact that everything leads up to the most revered tournament in golf history definitely brings you back to finish round after round with anticipation.
It is really hard to come up with new things to say about a game when it comes out year after year, but this is one that lives up to my expectations and more. It is, and will be, the best version ever in the Tiger Woods series. So when you feel that you are up to it and can handle all the added pressure and allure of The Masters, head down Magnolia Lane and take on Augusta National and win your very own Green Jacket!