Tiger Woods PGA Tour 14 Review
It’s not hard to picture the Tiger Woods PGA Tour 14 team having a brainstorming meeting for new ideas, blank notepads in front of them, the loud “ummm” noises breaking up the silence of fingers being drummed on the table.
This is the sixteenth game in the Tiger Woods PGA Tour series and golf hasn’t changed an awful lot in that time. It’s not like EA can hand Tiger a Flaming Club Of Justice (+5 Strength) as he trundles off to Warlock Mountain, or add new Team Deathmatch modes.
Tiger Woods PGA Tour games are limited by the game of golf itself. That means struggling for new ideas that justify a sequel without breaking authenticity of the game itself.
Tiger Woods PGA Tour – Absolute Power Or Total Control?
The most obvious manifestation of that struggle is found in its ‘golfer types’ addition. You can choose between power, control and draw specialists and there’s further specialisation in hitting the ball high (susceptible to wind by more likely to lie on the green), low (the opposite) or somewhere between the two.
It’s not a bad addition but a fairly pointless one that does little to add to the game. At times it feels restrictive that you can’t club the ball 300 yards from the tee because you’ve picked the wrong ‘type’ of golfer while at other times it feels empowering, should you have the right golfer for the right situation.
But at no point does it ever feel as though having different types of golfer has really added anything to Tiger Woods.
Tiger Woods PGA Tour 14 Online
Play an online tournament, though, and you almost feel as though the it justifies a sequel in itself.
Online tournaments have golfers working their way through the courses at the same time as you, and you can see their shots in real-time as white outlines bouncing along the green. It adds an unusual sense of camaraderie or competition, depending on your skill level
An overall leaderboard tracks the leading golfer for that particular tournament (which often lasts 24 hours) before a winner is declared. There are some tournaments you can only enter once, some which are tracked across 36 holes, and annoyingly, some that require DLC to participate in.
There should have been more work to open this side of the game up, as the choice of tournaments can be limiting (especially with the further DLC restriction in place), but it’s surprisingly good fun. Seeing live play alongside you makes working your way round the courses that much more enjoyable, as it’s no longer a lonely pursuit of perfection.
You can also form Country Clubs, which is the gentlemanly golfing equivalent of clans. It’s a nice way of keeping track of rivalry with friends, and if you have people on your Friends List who are working through the game, it’s another brilliant addition to the online side of the game.
Tiger Woods PGA Tour 14 Single Player
But what about single player? Besides the usual additions that won’t really register on your Must Buy This Sequel Now scale – new golfers, new courses, night golf – there is one mode that stands out.
Legends Of The Majors takes you through the history of golf tournaments, starting from 1873 as you work your way through to the modern era. Having a throwback to the past is interesting because of the way EA has fully committed to it. There are grainy sepia filters, retro fashion such as jackets and ties and best of all, old-school golf clubs with comedy names like ‘baffing spoon’.
It’s interesting because it’s different, EA finding a way to make golf feel different without having to break authenticity to do so.
The only problem is that mode becomes less engaging as the eras begin to catch up with the present. As modern-day elements bleed back in – colour broadcasts, modern clubs, modern equipment, and so on – it starts to feel like Another Tiger Woods Single-Player Mode that’s rolled off the EA factory line, indistinct from any other mode from previous outings. It loses its unique appeal.
Tiger Woods + Online Pass = Profit?
Is there enough in Tiger Woods PGA Tour 14 to justify a sequel? Just about, if you have access to the online side of the game (those buying second-hand will need to get an online pass). Online tournaments are a brilliant way of playing through the various courses, and seeing the real-time play alongside yours does add something fresh to the usual Tiger Woods fare.
Without the online modes, it’s a much harder sell. Legends Of The Majors is good but not really good enough to warrant those who played last year’s edition to pick this up and that’s the only single-player mode that stands out. It’s also frustrating that you bump into DLC restrictions as often as you do here, which cheapens the overall experience (there’s no option to ‘earn’ the extra courses – they can only be bought).
Despite that it’s still a great golf game so if you haven’t played any Tiger Woods outings for a while, this year is as good as any to come back to the series.
Just make sure you do so with an online pass.
Version Tested: Xbox 360