Despite the ongoing personal drama surrounding the fallen superstar, and his battles to recover his all-encompassing golf form, EA Sports continue to release annual installments to their Tiger Woods franchise. Tiger Woods PGA Tour 13: The Masters Collector’s Edition (whew!), released at the same price you’d expect to pay for a standard edition of any other game, contains a few bonus goodies to keep players entertained – chief of these is the inclusion of five extra courses. But as with any annual sports game, it poses one major question: is it a must-have for people who already own a Tiger Woods game?
Large number of courses – Moreso than other sports games, the locations in golf games need to be varied and plentiful. Thankfully, six new locations have been added to Tiger Woods PGA Tour 13, and the Masters Collector’s Edition takes the total number of courses to 22. A little disappointing is the day-one release of extra courses as DLC. However, in a win for gamers, these courses can also be unlocked and played for free by ‘mastering’ the already-available courses. This is a positive move by EA, one no doubt caused by backlash over similar DLC releases in previous years. Including these courses, gamers have a veritable smorgasbord to tee off on.
Impressive variety of game modes – While golf games are predominantly going to be a rinse and repeat affair, the context in which you are playing is always changing. The career mode itself progresses fairly speedily, but outside this is the “course mastery” system, where players must try to complete objectives on each of the courses to earn in-game rewards, as well as the Tiger Woods Legacy mode, in which you control the superstar himself in his formative years. While it is an unusual addition, it does break up the career mode and adds value to an already comprehensive package.
Introduction of pins – Pins are a new addition, and can be bought using coins earned in play. Pins can add major improvements to a players statistics either in one of several categories, for example driving, or a minor boost to all attributes. Additionally, pins that represent each of the 18 holes of a course can be collected, which all add up to a greater performance on the relevant course. The entire system works without a hitch and perfectionists will no doubt enjoy the challenge of earning every last pin.
Unusual learning curve – Tiger Woods PGA Tour 13 possibly has the strangest version of a tutorial ever seen. Upon booting the game, this reviewer went straight to the Career mode, and thought he would practice a little before hitting his first main event. On the practice range, I was effectively given no hints as to how to play, nor did I receive much information about the new features. Only when I entered the event proper did the game decide to tell me how all the mechanics worked, which was no less confusing than trying to figure it out myself. Certainly, something that should be either improved and perhaps presented before a player hits the links for the first time, or scrapped altogether.
Lifeless atmosphere – For a sport that has produced some phenomenal crowd reactions to big moments, Tiger Woods PGA Tour 13 is devoid of any real emotion. There are so many contributing factors to this, and it is a major disappointment. Player models are generally creepy-looking; there is a distinct lack of commentary over the duration of a round; crowds hardly react to tournament-defining shots, or, if they do, they react incorrectly. Sports fans love drama, and without the drama of real-world golf, the game fails to capture a player’s imagination. At one point, I had actually shanked a tee shot into the crowd on the left of the fairway and hit a spectator on the foot. The crowd, and the poor victim, made no noise, and the only indication I had hit him was seeing him hop up and down in slow motion. It begs the question – why even include this type of scenario, if it is only done half-heartedly?
Lazy environment detail – Honestly, by 2012 standards, the visual quality of the objects that line the outside of each fairway is terrible. Additionally, playing in 15 mile per hour winds shouldn’t just push a player’s ball to the left of the screen; we should be able to see tree branches shaking and ripples across player’s clothing. Games that provide a more mellow, serene experience, such as golf games, need to get these tiny details right, because the courses and their representation are the main graphical content.
Tiger Woods PGA Tour 13 – Masters Collector’s Edition is without a doubt the most comprehensive golf title available on consoles. The strong course roster and plethora of game modes will keep even casual sports fans coming back, especially as it is a game that requires little quick thinking. As with other annual sport games, though, it fails to be a “must-have” for those who picked up the 2012 edition. Unless the game picks up an exceptional amount of atmosphere in its next installment, I have a funny feeling we might be saying the same thing in 12 months time.