Published on March 28th, 2012 | by Kyle Spencer, Editor
Tiger Woods PGA Tour 13 Review (with Kinect)
Publisher: EA Sports
Platforms: Xbox 360 [Reviewed], PlayStation 3
Release Date: March 27, 2012
Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12 brought with it the addition of the coveted Master Tournament and the historic Augusta National. Tiger 13 brings back the historic landmarks, as well as a couple of unique gameplay elements and modes. However, this year’s version does miss the mark on some of the simple mechanics. But even with the small misses, the addition of Kinect support does give the game a sense of realism and adds to the fun that the franchise has brought over the years.
The biggest change to this year’s iteration is the updated swing mechanic, called Total Swing Control. This new mechanic puts the outcome of the shot, and the entire dynamic of the swing, in control of the player. The player can also adjust the setup, which gives the freedom to create a number of different shots with any club that is in the player’s bag. There is a strong focus on this mechanic since it is actually difficult to master, and this isn’t just for fairway use. Tee shots and even putting use this control system and can either lead to satisfaction if you hit a great shot, or a chance to launch your control at the closest wall if you misfire.
The complication may not just be because of the controls, but may be due in part that the game does very little to instruct or explain how the mechanics works. To put it simply, if you have too long of a back swing, or too short of one, the game will determine whether you over- or under-hit the ball. Slight shifts in the thumb sticks to the left or right will determine the pull of the shots, and thrusting the stick forward will set the power used for the shot. This may not sound too difficult in theory, but when you’re in the middle of a swing and there is no on-screen guide, besides some color differences, to determine how the shot is going to end up, things can get frustrating with every botched swing. I applaud EA Tiburon for implementing the innovative swing system, but is not effective if there are no clear instructions on how to use it. In a way, it forces the users experiment with the controls and take their best guess at the shots themselves.
The new game mode, called Tiger’s Legacy, has been included. Basically, Tiburon took a page out of NBA 2K‘s book here and allows players take control of Tiger Woods himself during some of his most memorable golf accomplishments–from a child to golfing legend. This, coincidentally, is also the closest that you will find to a tutorial on how to perfect your swing. However if you do not complete any of the challenges to get the coveted Tiger Outcome, you will have to restart. Be prepared to restart a lot.
Graphically the game does look great. From the course layouts, all the way to the flutter of the wind, the game has it all. The shadow effects are pleasant to look at, even though they tend to pop in and out on occasion. However, even with the great look of the graphics there are some technical frame-rate issues that can’t be ignored. Many times as you watch the ball land at its destination the game will start to chug.
The career mode in Tiger 13 is where the game truly shines. The development of your golfer will pay off by how well you know the new swing mechanic. You earn experience points as you develop your golfer from amateur to pro. The XP earned can be used to unlock new clothes, clubs and star-boosting accessories. You will also earn pins and coins that can be used to give you temporary boosts during gameplay.
Speaking of pins, equipping them can grant improved accuracy, a temporary boost to your XP and even more shot previews. Coins function in a similar kind of way, however they are on a one-time use deal. Coins are only used to give the golfer a slight competitive edge over the rest of the competitors. You can also use the coins to gain access to locked courses. When unlocking new courses, you only unlock it for one round. Think of it as paying per round of golf that you play. This is disappointing, considering I live in the Pinehurst area and the Pinehurst No. 2 golf course is in the game but locked via DLC. You can buy more coins using PSN dollars or Microsoft points, but that just adds to the problem.
There are 16 on-disc courses, five of which are new courses, and 16 additional DLC courses. If you are lucky enough to get the Collector’s Edition, you do gain six additional courses (Pinehurst No. 2 is one of them) unlocked for unlimited play. Otherwise you have to shell out cash to gain unlimited access.
I do like the addition of online Country Clubs. You can create a country club and invite your friends to become members, and compete against other country club owners on exclusive, locked golf courses. This is a unique way to get around the DLC barrier that Tiger 13 has thrown at its users. The competitive level on these country club matches can get intense, but are a lot of fun to compete in.
I’ve heard complaints about the Kinect option in Tiger 13, but I for one actually liked this unique way of playing. Is it perfect? No, but it makes it fun, and Tiger 13 is much more of a golfer’s game that Kinect Sports was. You can choose your stance, call out the club you want to hit with, aim where you want the shot to go, and swing at your fullest. I would be careful because if you over swing you run a risk of throwing yourself into a wall. There is some stuttering when approaching your shot, but the overall experience is fun and unique to the series.
Tiger Woods PGA Tour 13 is a very solid game. The new swing mechanic gives you the most control of your shots than any other golf game to ever come across. The new modes of gameplay, and the new ways of playing make for a very unique gaming experience. Yes, the Kinect is a fun way to play, I just couldn’t use it for more than a round or two. The way they make you pay for unlimited course use is a bit disappointing, but the use of pins and coins in the game seem to soften the blow of DLC locked content.
+ New Swing Mechanic
+ Tiger’s Legacy Mode
+ Online Country Clubs
+ Career Mode
– Limited instructions
– Texture pop-ins
– Framerate problems
– Locked courses unless you buy the DLC