The control mechanics have really been refined for this year’s installment when it comes to the swing mechanics mostly. The Legends mode is a little tunneled in what is on offer, but is still an absolute treat, sharing the greens with some of the legends, and authentically in their era. The social integration is bolder than before with the County Club aspect. Expect more courses, more golfers and more gear, but also expect the micro-transactions to obtain many.
Developer: EA Sports
Distributor: EA South Africa
For fans of: Golf, simulator sport games
Reviewed on: Playstation 3
Also available on: Xbox 360 and PC
If we had to give it a numerical score: 8.0/10
What I liked
- Refined swing mechanics
- Natural approach to mechanics
- Stunning visually
- Stunning presentation
- Legends mode
Not so much
- A few, minor bugs
- Purchasable courses
Gameplay and Features
With a few yearly exceptions, I have played most of the Tiger Woods golf titles this generation. And I have to say that it is no surprise that the series has no competition. Any other golf titles take the ‘arcade’ approach, and I believe it is because the Tiger Woods series offers the most competent simulated golf experience on consoles. Unlike football or basketball though, us avid sports fans do not always NEED the latest golf game, as we don’t need the latest kits or roster changes like we would in the latest Fifa for example. I mean ask any avid gamer/ football fan if they can do without this year’s footie game, and most will reply not. With golf, yes there are the fanatics, but not as many as with football. There are a few of us though, that know just how great a quality series the Tiger Woods series is, and are always keen to see what this season’s instalment throws into the mix. I remember after a long break from the series, a mate got (I think it was Tiger 12) which once online, had live real-life sports scores. It is a simple addition thanks to a clever app from EA, but one that wowed me. That and you could enter into the real-life tournaments online that were being played at any given date. I got the game the next day, for those two reasons alone.
EA Sports has had quite a challenge in keeping the offerings fresh every year, especially when considering how long this current generation of consoles have gone on. Golf players don’t come and go every year, there are no team rosters or kits to update, so there is nothing really that makes this year, or any other year’s titles a must have. The series’ major innovations in the last few years have only really included the introduction of the motion control via Move and Kinect. Other than that, we have seen a major improvement in the online functionality in the last few titles. The basic control movements have been tweaked, trimmed or slightly improved on through the last few years, but the end result has been similar.
I have to say, Tiger Wood PGA Tour 14’s mechanics are my favourite yet for the series. EA Sport’s biggest development or improvement with the mechanics this year is the focus on the swing plane. I don’t remember over or under-swinging before, and there is a general higher focus on the swing-plane itself. Your approach is still everything, but now you really need to look for that perfect swing. The rest of the mechanics are familiar, either slightly tweaked or near identical. So players have all the options you would want for the setting up of the swing. You no longer always stick to the straight swing from the top to bottom. Now, if you change your stance hit a dog-leg or faded shot, you have to change your swing direction too – so from NW to SE for example to dog-leg. If I remember correctly, with the earlier games, changing your swing plane was up to you. Now if you change your stance, you need to change your swing. And like I said, you have to cater for under or over-swinging. These factors are further compounded this year by the shot trajectory. There is more emphasis on whether you want to shoot high or at a lower trajectory, and therefore need to change your stance accordingly.
Through the years, EA has also looked at getting returning sales with the various game mode options. We saw the introduction of the ‘Masters’ mode, the different leagues, players etc. through the years. This year see’s us take on some of the absolute legends, and the special aspect here is that you take them on in their era. So we go back to black and white television coverage for some legends, with their gear from the era and as the courses were in the day. Not since the introduction of the Masters have I been as interested in a particular mode.
The focus on Country Clubs in 14 caters for the ever-popular social integration. Players from across the globe can compete online against other clubs or within their clubs, with the overall aim of increasing your favourite club’s prestige. Besides traditional competitions, the Country Club competition gives you more than a great, focused reason to keep playing online. You can also live-chat to other club’s members with an in-game chat room.
The downside of the online play is that there are a few aspects that have changed for the worse. Players can’t see the opposing player’s shot count when playing online which is annoying. Players need to pay to play more courses, which down the road, is only going to make match-making a nightmare. I can only imagine it’s as a result of micro-transactions why some players are achieving insanely higher scores than I can see plausible. They must be paying for some fancy equipment which must be influencing the skill ratings, and I cannot fathom how I am going to manage scores like 25 under for 18 holes.
Sound and Visuals
By now we all know what EA Sports are capable of when it comes to the audio and visuals. Like any of the EA Sports’ franchises, Tiger Woods 14 delivers a highly realistic-looking and attractive package. From the courses to the players’ authentic looks, everything is of a top-notch quality.
New in this year’s game are the customisable swings. Players can mimic the greats by choosing the various real-life players’ swings or customise their own. This is the tip of the iceberg with customisation options, and more now than ever, the club house filled to the brim with purchasable gear. More fully licensed gear and clubs from all the top manufacturers, and less and less is becoming unlockable. So if you are looking for the really special kit and clubs, prepare to fork out real money.
Micro-transactions and purchasable DLC a side, if you are looking for a polished sport experience, then like many entries in the series before, Tiger Woods 14 offers you “as good as it gets” sport simulation. It is a game that sport and golf fans alike can really sit down and get stuck into for months to come thanks to the extensive offline and online modes. The intuitive, extensive tutorials also make Tiger Woods 14 completely manageable for those new to the game.
While the headline Legends mode in this year’s entry is not quite silky-smooth, it is still one of the more desirable offerings in terms of game modes, and most importantly, it features Gary Player!
As far as which features or aspects have been best throughout the years, well, that’s a matter of preference. I personally love the technical approach to mechanics with regards to the swing in Tiger Woods PGA Tour 14.
Read about our ratings here.