Tiger Woods PGA Tour 14 Review
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Tiger Woods PGA Tour 14 puts the legends of golf in the forefront by allowing players to travel through time and compete against the sport's biggest names. Subtle changes to gameplay and the inclusion of the LPGA tour are welcome additions, but it may not go far enough to draw casual fans back for another year.
- The authentic Legends of the Majors presentation
- The Great tweaks to gameplay
- Deeper online options
- The overall changes are too subtle
- Legends, and all golfers, lack personality
- The long loading screens
For the best players in the world, golf is a game built on subtlety. Make the slightest change to your swing and you could struggle with the game like Tiger Woods did a few years ago. Tweak things again in the tinniest ways and you could start to win like Tiger Woods over the past year or so. And so is the case for golf videogames. Since EA Sports' Tiger Woods PGA Tour series has dominated the market year after year, there is very little to judge against the longstanding champion of the links. Fans of the game--both golf and its Tiger Woods videogame counterpart--know why it continues to dominate: Tiger Woods PGA Tour balances easy-to-learn and fun gameplay with a real-to-life presentation that feels like you're watching a Sunday final round.
The same question comes up every year we get an annual sports game. Is it worth buying the latest game and upgrading from my previous year's copy? The answer for Tiger Woods PGA Tour 14 really depends on the kind of player. For fans of Tiger Woods videogames, it's probably not worth the upgrade as the changes to gameplay are again quite subtle. For fans of golf, especially those who love the history behind the game, you should at least consider the upgrade. That's because the time traveling, game-defining element in PGA Tour 14, the Legends of the Majors, hits many of the right shots, but too often it fails to make par.
The mode serves as a set of historic challenges, where you travel through the significant eras of golf and relive important moments. This is not the first time you could play with legendary golfers in a Tiger Woods game, but this is the first time we've seen EA Sports put so much attention on how presentation and actual golf mechanics have changed throughout history. You aren't playing as Tiger Woods of today up against big Ben Hogan of his era, using their appropriate clubs and physical prowess. You could actually set-up that scenario if you want--but those historic players, especially the ones using actual wood in their clubs, stand little chance against stronger players of today using lighter metals.
The focus on the Legends of the Majors mode is on reliving historic events. There are nine legendary golfers, including the aforementioned Ben Hogan and Tiger Woods, Bobby Jones, Arnold Palmer, Sam Snead, Seve Ballesteros, Gary Player, Lee Trevino, and of course Jack Nicklaus. The development team did a remarkable job of recreating these players in their era, and it's quite entertaining to play in sepia and flickered film in the very old stages, then work up to technicolor in the middle years followed by the crisp HD presentation of modern and upcoming legends. Each legend has their real-to-life swing style, ratings, and clubs--the latter makes all the difference.
The challenges themselves, split throughout the eras (note that you can hop around eras at will), are frequently simple and not overly difficult. However, there are moments when not everything in the challenge mode is exactly historically accurate. That is a bummer since this is a historic mode that screams for authenticity. Even more irritating is that some challenges--like The Shot Heard Round the World--are repeats from previous years.
Beyond the shortcomings in the challenges, it's a bit perplexing that more attention wasn't put on the legends' personalities. That may sound odd, but these golfers (most of them, anyway) had big personalities on the course and that's simply not represented anywhere in the game. Where are the huge fist pumps, the fingers-pointed-like-a-gun celebration, the sly smile from Jack? This is something that Tiger Woods PGA Tour has missed in previous years and has missed yet again. Simply put: Tiger Woods PGA Tour, in all its historic grandeur, fails to have any real personality outside of the era-appropriate clothing, clubs, and camera filters.
Yet, despite these complaints, Legends of the Majors is some of the most fun you'll have in any recent golfing game. The challenges are to-the-point enjoyable, the eras look and feel exquisite, and afterwards you can create something of a dream matchup using the Legends playing in different eras. Heck, those dream matchups are reason enough for diehard golf fans to pick up this game.
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