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'Tiger Woods PGA Tour 13' Review (PS3)

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Tiger Woods PGA Tour 13

Tiger Woods PGA Tour 13

Image © EA
As Bubba Watson continues his victory lap after his improbable win at this year's Masters, the national interest in golf has returned to its annual peak, so what better time to release the latest installment in EA Sports' hit “Tiger Woods” franchise? "Tiger Woods PGA Tour 13" stands as a lateral move from last year's incarnation, but that's a minor complaint, particularly given the artistic success of the last game in the most important golf game series on the market.

Game Details

  • Publisher: Electronic Arts
  • Developer: EA Tiburon
  • ESRB Rating: E (Everyone)
  • Genre: Sports
  • Pros: Lifelike course recreation, deep variety of game modes, Tiger's Legacy
  • Cons: Essentially the same as last year's game, some animation glitches, some course graphics that are starting to feel dated
Last year's "Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12: The Masters" was one of the most acclaimed sports games of the year. It marked a move forward for the series with more refined controls, a strong fidelity to the actual courses, and deeper customization than ever before. Following the model of "if it ain't broke, don't fix it," EA Tiburon has made only minor adjustments to their swing this season. There is a new mode that tracks the legacy of Tiger's entire life (and even his potential future) along with some new controls, but the “PGA Tour 13" will look nearly identical to “PGA Tour 12" to the average player.

Gameplay

Tiger Woods PGA Tour 13

Tiger Woods PGA Tour 13

Image © EA

Understandably shaken by the tabloid controversy surrounding the destruction of the personal life of Tiger Woods, EA pulled back somewhat from their iconic star in their last two games, focusing on the Ryder Cup for "11" and The Masters for "12." While Tiger shares the cover with phenom Rory McIlroy for "Tiger Woods PGA Tour 13," this edition feels much more centered around Woods, still one of the most famous athletes in the world, than any of the other post-Tigergate incarnations.

The sense that the game has "returned to Tiger" is never truer than in the "Tiger's Legacy" mode, a series of challenges built around the key moments in the life of Tiger Woods. Starting with his toddler years, in which you have to use a tiny Woods to lob golf balls into backyard pools and even compete in child competitions through to the moments that made him a superstar, the developers of "Tiger's Legacy" have loyally taken every anecdote and piece of biographical information from Woods’ life and turned them into something to be recreated with a controller in your hands. They even look into their crystal ball and try and envision potential future tournament wins for you to play. Some of the challenges are essentially mini-games and they can get a bit repetitive (especially given the game's long load times, a notable problem throughout the game), but it's a cleverly designed mode that offers something new to golf game players and fans of Tiger Woods.

It's one of the few new offerings in "Tiger Woods PGA Tour 13." The bulk of the game will feel familiar to the point that if you're still enjoying the "12" edition, you may want to hold off on upgrading. Most of the course design, the player animations, the XP system that allows for increased attributes (Power, Accuracy, Putting, etc.) is pretty much the same as it was before. While the "12" version was a beauty, it is a bit disappointing to see the developers fail to improve the game visually. The courses have been beautifully rendered, but there are little things -- the look of a bunker, a shadow that doesn't cut through the trees quite right, etc. -- that were more acceptable in a 2011 game than they are just a year later, especially when EA is asking gamers to spend another $60 on a title they bought just a year ago.

As for modes, "Tiger Woods PGA Tour 13" includes what one would expect, including a deep Career mode in which you create your own player, get sponsors, win tournaments, and work your way to the Masters. There's also a boost pin system this year in which you can add certain pins to enhance attributes for one round only. It's not exactly "realistic," but it adds a fun twist to the gameplay. You can also use the Caddie again to help increase your chances for a successful shot as he will tell you how much to open your stance, add loft, etc. Don't worry. He's not always right, so he doesn't completely remove strategy from the game. And the swing controls have been slightly tweaked this year as you have to time your swing with the analog stick (or the Move) with a bit more precision.

Graphics & Sound

The courses have been lovingly recreated, down to the fact that you can even reproduce the day's real-world weather conditions on your chosen links, and the attention to detail on the fairway is stellar. The slope of a putting green, the arc of a fairway -- these elements are above criticism. There's never been a more realistic golf game in terms of the actual path from tee to hole. However, the little things on the fringe disappoint. The crowds, the trees, the bunkers, even the character animations for your golfer -- it may seem petty to complain about these elements given the dedication to realism where it matters, but it's what keeps a good game from being great. As for sound, the music strikes the right peaceful chord and the announcers, especially the great Jim Nantz, are fantastic.

Bottom Line

Tiger Woods PGA Tour 13

Tiger Woods PGA Tour 13

Image © EA
"Tiger Woods PGA Tour 13" is a beautiful, must-own golf game... if you don't own "Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12." If you do, it's a bit too much of the same to justify the purchase price and the flaws of the title -- long load times, some awkward graphics -- stand out more than they did last year. However, "PGA Tour 13" does more right than it does wrong. It may not win the video game Masters, but it's definitely on the board.
Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the publisher. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.
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