Review: Tiger Woods PGA Tour 13 PDF Print E-mail

Tiger Woods PGA Tour 13, a staple of the EA franchise, is an impressive sports game. This year's edition offers improved graphics and major changes to the control mechanics but changes to the progression and DLC systems sullies a great golfing simulator.

Most of the gameplay happens in career mode. You choose a player and gain experience by progressing through courses. Key to your success is mastering the biggest change to the game, the new Total Control System (TCS).

In previous games, the success of a shot depended on how well you accounted for conditions and whether you hit the ball as instructed. With the new system, the motion of the left thumb-stick defines every part of the shot. Pulling the stick back and then quickly moving it straight forward ensures a good strike of the ball. Sound simple? It's not.

Every subtle movement of the thumb affects the trajectory of the ball and the speed of the upward flick determines the distance the ball will travel. Pull the stick down too long and you overswing, flick the stick upward in anything but a perfect vertical line and the ball veers to the right or the left.

Mastering the subtleties is essential to winning tournaments. Unfortunately, the game makes no effort to explain how the TCS works and the trial-and-error learning you have to endure can be frustrating. Though, once you master it, the game begins to shine.

Using the Kinect, although an option, is no real alternative. The motion control is so frustrating that it's actually pointless. While swinging your arms to hit a ball is a lot of fun, all the other motions are very frustrating. Fine tuning your aim is almost impossible, the voice controls are unresponsive and the menu systems are completely counterintuitive.

Another aspect of the gameplay and progression that was very frustrating is the use of 'pins' - temporary perks that you can use when playing a course, like increasing accuracy or shot previews. Pins have limited uses and you require 'coins' to purchase replacement pins. You can earn coins by completing courses and in turn be used to purchase access to new courses.

Unfortunately, the coin system is completely unbalanced. To unlock a single course you require about six hours of gameplay and strangely, this only allows you temporary access. To unlock the course permanently, you need to perform "gold mastery" tasks, like hitting five eagles or hitting the green 80 times. These are often very difficult and time consuming to complete. Alternatively, you can spend some MS points to purchase additional coins but somehow this feels like a rip-off.

The Tiger legacy game mode replays some of the biggest moments in Tiger Woods' career. But the developers squandered the opportunity to appeal to die-hard Tiger Woods fans. Because the controls are so hard to master and the game doesn't tell you how to improve your shots, it's inevitable that replaying the same shot over and over will become frustrating.

The core of Tiger Woods PGA Tour is its mechanics. The TCS is a significant improvement over previous games and adds a completely different dimension to the swing control. Unfortunately, the coins and DLC system is nothing more than blatant exploitation and detracts so much from the core game that it leaves a bad taste in the mouth. 

Pros: Total Control System; stunning graphics.
Cons: Game tutorials are poor; extremely time consuming to unlock new courses; the DLC system is exploitative; awful music.
Score: 5/10
Achievement difficulty: 8/10 

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