Game Picks

Game Picks: Tiger Woods PGA Tour 14

CorrespondentMarch 28, 2013 

 

When I first tried out the Tiger Woods PGA Tour game back in – oh, my – 2008, it was my first foray into golf simulation aside from that goofy Wii Sports minigame on the Wii. I’d never been much of a golf guy, but virtual golf seemed right up my alley. It was all the fun parts of golf without the annoying bits – like sunburn and bugs and people who play golf.

I kid, I kid. I really dug into that PGA Tour 08 game, back when the Wii was the only motion-controller console on the market. (This was a couple years before Kinect for the Xbox 360 or the PlayStation Move system.) I began to understand the appeal of golf because – like so many other things in life – the more you know about a sport, the more interesting it becomes.

It’s five years later and a lot has changed for me, and maybe more to the point, for the estimable Mr. Woods. Perhaps in light of the golfer’s recent PR troubles, the latest iteration of the franchise – Tiger Woods PGA Tour 14 (PS3, X360; $59.99: rated E) – shifts the focus to golf’s rich and storied past.

Go back in time

The all-new Legends of the Majors game mode lets players go back in time and challenge golf’s greatest players from previous eras. You begin all the way back in the 1880s, with golf pioneer Young Tom Morris, winner of four consecutive titles in the Open Championship – by the age of 21.

From there you move through the 1930s (Bobby Jones), the ’40s and ’50s (Ben Hogan and Sam Snead) and the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s (Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and more of the usual suspects.) As you unlock each player and era, they become available for use on any of the game’s 20 included courses. So you can play Lee Trevino at Pinehurst in 1970, say.

Each era features period-specific presentation, equipment and attire, with stylized monochrome or sepia-toned color treatments. It’s a playful and admirably sideways kind of move for the franchise. Keep in mind that those clubs you’re using are old-fashioned, too. You won’t be going quite so long off the tee.

Other big changes this go-round: For the first time, all four of golf’s majors – the U.S. Open, the Masters Tournament, the British Open and the PGA Championship – are included in the game. Licensing issues have finally been hashed out, apparently.

New time-of-day settings let you play any course at any time from dawn until dusk, with appropriate lighting. You can even play a round of night golf on most of the courses. Switch to Live Time of Day and Live Weather and you have to face the elements just like a real golfer.

Career mode is similar to previous installments, with the notable addition that you can now play through the full career mode arc as a female golfer, up through all the LPGA tournaments. Female pros on the roster include Paula Creamer, Natalie Gulbis, Stacy Lewis, Suzann Pettersen and Lexi Thompson.

Options for swing style

The Total Swing Control system is back in play this year, with a new Golfer Swing Style option. Choose to play as a Control Golfer and you’ll get more accuracy at the expense of power. Or you can choose to play as a Power Golfer, but when you miss a shot, you really miss a shot.

I played on PlayStation 3 using the Move system and found motion controls relatively forgiving, but still realistic enough to warrant fiddling around. It’s worth trying, if for no other reason than it’s fun to swing an invisible golf club in the living room and watch Gary Player execute your drive. Exacting players will want to use the traditional control scheme, where you have much more precision on shot placement.

The game also adds new online multiplayer features, including improvements to the popular Country Club tournament mode and live voice chat options.

I don’t know that I’ll spend a lot of time this summer on Tiger Woods PGA Tour 14. Quite frankly, I prefer shooting zombies to shooting par. But I’m hooked enough once again to get out on the links and knock a few balls around.

New This Week: Artsy FPS madness with “BioShock Infinite” (PC, X360, PS3); sidekick adventuring with “Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon” (3DS) and geeky structural engineering with the building sim “The Bridge Project” (PC).

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