Note: This review is based on gameplay on the Playstation 3 console with material received by the publisher. The game is also available on the X360.
Golf games strike a certain chord with me. I’m not sure why but I don’t really question it. I’ve been playing Tiger Woods games for about ten years now. I don’t actually golf, nor have I even swung a golf club. But the Tiger Woods games have always made me feel like I could walk onto the green and make things happen. This year is no different, and lots of wonderful tweaks and additions make Tiger Woods PGA Tour 13 a considerable leap forward in the series.
The Career mode starts you off as an amateur and lets you pick between a few tournaments to enter. This was my favorite portion of the game, as I watched my likeness rise in fame. The “Create A Golfer” seemed a little lacking in options, however, the character models look beautiful. There were many times I just put the controller down while at the tee and watched the wind rustle my clothes while birds chirped in the background.
I would have liked more hair options during character creation, but the other facial properties are widely customizable. As you progress through your career and complete various sponsor challenges, you’ll unlock more clothes to outfit yourself. I will say, that green jacket is awfully snazzy after winning the Masters tournament.
New to PGA Tour 13 are pins. These boost various stats, or give you more XP/coins/status points. You start with a few, which can spoil you greatly in the beginning, and getting more requires you to spend in-game currency (coins). Each pin only has so many uses, but can be refilled and “leveled up” by obtaining a duplicate pin, which grants a greater bonus. The catch is that you can only pick up to three pins to bring onto the course with you. While it seems like a rather small addition, it is very helpful at the start of your golfing career.
One of the more interesting ways to use your hard-earned coins is to purchase a round of golf on the DLC courses. Each course has a “Course Mastery”, a list of objectives to accomplish as you play through the course (ie. 50 Career Birdies). If you completely master one of the DLC courses, you earn the right to play it anytime you want. This neat little feature needs to continue (and make its way into other games), and gives you a reason to spend some coins on a few rounds at TPC San Antonio.
The actual swing-mechanics in the game have been overhauled this year, too. Focusing on your tempo, you take the left stick back then forward — a common gesture in the series — in a rythmic fashion. The dynamics of this change with your timing, so you can manipulate your distance by swinging faster to drive the ball a little further. This new system, coupled with the Swing Meter (the visual representation of your swing power), give a more realistic approach to the genre and allow a more authentic representation to the sport.
Golf fanatics get a treat as they can play through “Tiger’s Legacy”, a point-by-point retelling of Tiger Woods’ golf career. You start as “Toddler Tiger”, with a short story about the era you are about to play. It’s an amusing way to bring a real story into the franchise, and a welcome addition to the features PGA Tour 13 brings to the table.
The online receives an overhaul and is taking steps into a more social experience with Country Clubs. You can create a club, or join a club, but can only be a part of one club at a time. The idea is genuine, and presents itself well. You (and your club mates) earn status points as you play the game, which contribute to your country club. So you are always contributing to your club’s rank. If your club happens to have quite a few members, you can even participate in club tournaments, or you can pair up with a club mate and challenge another club. It’s a well-conceived feature that develops the online play into more of a community atmosphere.
Move controls return to the game, and while I enjoyed driving the ball with it, putting was a catastrophe. I’ve played putt-putt. I’m actually pretty decent at it. So I figured putting would have been similar. But I felt it was very inconsistent and failed to add any sort of value to the experience (outside of frustrating). I am willing to admit this could have been me and my Move arrangement, which works well for most Move-enabled titles.
At times, when putting, I could slowly tap the ball and it would chip the ball over the hole. Other times it would do the complete opposite and tap the ball two feet. Driving the ball on the fairway, on the other hand, was a treat. After a few bad swings to get a feel for things, you get the point very quickly.
The enhancements to this years Tiger Woods game offer a fresh experience and continue to build onto the franchise. Instead of updating the graphics, and adding one or two new changes, PGA Tour 13 updates nearly every aspect of the game: overhauled online community, the ability to get DLC courses without actually paying for them, in-game currency with items to buy, and more. The only disappointing part about Tiger Woods PGA Tour 13 was putting with the Move. And that doesn’t even apply to everyone.
- New community feature, Country Clubs
- You can earn the ability to play on DLC courses without buying them
- Layers of difficulty for everyone (new people can use the Caddie to help direct their shots)
- Putting with the Move feels inconsistent