Tiger Woods PGA Tour 13 Review

By Mike D'Alonzo - Posted Mar 29, 2012

Tiger Woods PGA Tour 13 is an up-and-down affair. On the plus side, it's gorgeous, and still as complete a golf game as there is on the market. On the downside, it can be frustrating to play, and the online currency system that restricts a good deal of content is a slap in the face to longtime players. Also, Kinect at your own peril.

The Pros
  • Refined swing system means the game is a lot more challenging
  • Graphics are dependably amazing
  • Career mode is still the game's biggest strength
The Cons
  • Incorporation of Tiger Legacy Challenge feels forced
  • The game's internal commerce is a sham
  • Lack of tutorial is a barrier to entry

Tiger Woods PGA Tour 13 Review:

It's kind of hard to envision anything at all about 2013, what with the impending end of the world in December, but the good folks at Electronic Arts are cockeyed optimists, it would seem, and so they've gone ahead and released Tiger Woods PGA Tour 13 just nine short months before the actual advent of 2013. In a way, it's pretty appropriate, because, whether or not you're looking at Tiger Woods 13, Tiger Woods 08, or Tiger Woods 2561, odds are pretty good you're going to get a lot of the same, dependable elements that are in ever Tiger Woods game ever released.

Of course, it hasn't been hard to imagine a world without Tiger Woods in it of late, so EA has hedged their bet by not only celebrating golf's future, allowing man-of-the-moment Rory McIlroy to share the cover of the game, but to celebrate the Tiger Woods no one can assail, the lovable tyke who started living life in the public eye on The Mike Douglas Show at the age of two, and who went on to become the most celebrated and beloved figure in sports. . .that is, before a certain "car accident" changed the way we thought about him forever.
 

 

 

 

 

Living The Life of a Prodigy

That particular mode, the Tiger Legacy Challenge, replicates important events from Tiger's life (starting with the aforementioned two year-old) and has you play them to become the man he is today. And no, there is not a mini game that involves SUV's, Perkins, or divorce...just in case you're wondering. And, while it's sort of darling, it illustrates probably the most glaring problem Tiger Woods PGA Tour 13 has going for it. There's a lot of industry, but it's all sort of befuddling. 

You can't help but feel a little bad for the development team here. Not only is Tiger more heavily scrutinized than ever before, but his performance over the past year, and the fact that, until this past weekend, he hadn't won a PGA Tour event since 2009, means that the audience for this game is growing increasingly detached from the face that represents it. Still, you can't go whole hog and change the title to Rory McIlroy PGA Tour 13, because, though he is incredibly popular at the moment, McIlroy has yet to even scratch the surface of being the same kind of player Woods once was. It would be like changing the name of the game to Sergio Garcia PGA Tour back in, say, 2007.

So, mining his past seems like the reasonable move. Except that it's kind of excruciating. No one really wants to pitch balls into Tiger's mom's handbag. Especially with The Masters also in the game. 

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It's A Zen Game. . .Just You and the Course

If you're not a seasoned Tiger Woods player, don't expect any help or guidance. It's just not there. This would seem to be a barrier to entry in what is already a pretty complicated game, and I know I'd want to know how to access all of that content had I not been playing the game for years and years. Just because golf is a game for the elite doesn't mean it should only be playable by elitists. 

Here's the good news. If you're looking to Tiger Woods PGA Tour 13 to help you shore up parts of your actual golf game, you're in luck. The addition to Total Swing Control means you can no longer just address the ball and slap it all over the course without consequences, just like real golf. Now you can overswing, you can be too timid, you can get your timing wrong, you can address the ball at the wrong point, you can have the wrong stance, etc. In short, there is literally no end to the ways in which you can ruin a perfectly good walk with this game. It makes for difficult mastery, but, as it's one of the only new ideas in the game, adds a challenge that wasn't there before. 

And, of course, you can challenge yourself ad nauseum in the game's always awesome career mode, which allows you to play out the entirety of several seasons of PGA golf as a character you create, getting better as time goes by, and adding tweaks here and there to make you one of the best the sport's ever seen. Earning pins to put on your bag for each round of golf you play allows you to level up faster, add distance to your game, become a better short game player, etc. Those tweaks, however, are no longer permanent, so you're going to have to deploy them strategically.

Tiger Woods PGA Tour 13

Gambling Is Illegal. . .And I Never Slice

Let's talk for a moment about the content promised in the game versus the content actually delivered. Though over 30 courses are promised, there are only 16 that come playable when you open the box. The others...well, that's a little more complex. See, you can either earn coins to play the other courses (approximately 6000 for one round on a locked course), or you can buy them outright, which will lead to you paying lots more money for the game overall if you want to get the most out of it. 

Now, look. There's nothing wrong with EA deciding to include DLC with their game, and, in this case, extra courses seem to be the perfect fit for that. And, ostensibly, if you want to play the game for hundreds of hours beforehand, you can unlock these courses without spending a single penny. But, let's call this what it is...it's a money grab for fans of a game that, essentially, sees little change from year to year. Wouldn't you want to be loyal to those (including myself) who slavishly fork over $60 ever year for a game that is notoriously the same? At least do a better job of hiding it from me.  

Tiger Woods PGA Tour 13

You are the controller? Question Mark?

And then, there's the addition (at least for Xbox 360 owners) of Kinect functionality in Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2013. Doesn't that sound amazing? A slam dunk. A natural. This is exactly the kind of game that Kinect was made for, right? Well, that might be the case in the future, but, for now, the Kinect integration is a frustrating mess. First off, your positioning is ludicrous. Instead of facing the screen as if you were actually playing, your shoulders are turned so you're perpendicular to the screen, which defies all internal logic, and makes it harder to conceive. I didn't think it was at all possible for aiming to be more frustrating than last year's PlayStation Move model, but I was proven wrong. It's, at the very least, just as bad.

Also, there are about six hundred thousand menus in the game, some of which are active all the way through your shot. You know what Kinect loves? Menus. It loves nothing more than interrupting gameplay to scroll through them, to screw up a carefully-placed shot, to disrupt your timing in a game that is LITERALLY based on timing, and to make you feel as frustrated as humanly possible. Someday, Kinect might make Tiger Woods a next-level game. That day is, quite decidedly, not today.

Tiger Woods PGA Tour 13

Par For the Course

So, in the end, there's some new, there's some old, and there's some very confusing, but, essentially, it comes down to this. If you are a fan of the Tiger Woods series, you're going to find something in this game that adds an additional challenge. Soon, though, EA is going to run out of other parts of Tiger's life to mine, people will get upset with the draconian online commerce system, and they'll be tired of trying to figure out poorly done motion control. And then, what will be left? Not a whole lot.  

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