Publisher: Electronic Arts
Developer: EA Tiburon
ESRB rating: Everyone
Release date: Available now
Spring is in the air and March Madness is reaching its end, but before the first pitch can be thrown on opening day, there’s one more epic sporting event to undertake: The Masters (“A tradition unlike any other,” I believe the tagline goes). It’s fitting, then, that EA has chosen this timeframe to release (as it does every year) its newest Tiger Woods golf game, aptly named PGA Tour 12: The Masters.
As the name might suggest, the bulk of the golfing action revolves around The Masters, the major PGA tournament held at the Augusta National Golf Club. For the first time in the series, Augusta has been completely re-created, so you can get a fairly realistic sense of what playing those 18 holes feels like. There are 16 courses included in the game (including such fan favorites as Pebble Beach), with at least 20 others slated to be available for download. Throughout the game, you hone your golfing skills to win the ultimate prize—the illustrious green jacket.
PGA Tour 12 has extremely similar game mechanics to its predecessor in terms of shot alignment and swing, as well “helpers” such as focus, which increases accuracy. The largest new addition is that of the caddie, who essentially serves as a guide to the course. When activated, the caddie offers club-selection suggestions and helps you to aim your shot, both on the fairway and the green. It makes for a more natural feeling, having some assistance available for novice players.
What I notice first and foremost about Tiger 12 is that graphics have been stepped up a notch. The grass has a far more 3D quality to it, and the details surrounding the course layouts make for some really beautiful scenery. I also found the game was much easier to jump into than previous installments. The Masters puts you right in the middle of the action immediately, as opposed to making you go through countless tutorials. The “learning as you go” approach seems far more fluid than in other games, and allows you to start your golf fun sooner rather than later.
It’s very easy to spot the big flaw in PGA Tour 12: the putting. I’m not a golf game pro, but I found the short game to be damn near maddening. It took a while, but I did finally get a handle on making great drives and chips. When it comes to putting, however, Tiger 12 is just so incredibly unforgiving, I almost broke my controller in half. I essentially was only able to sink the ball when I was a few inches away from the hole, destroying my chances at par nearly every time. Again, this might be just me, but I was at it for a while with little to no success.
Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12 essentially gets the same score as #11 did from me. If you already have the previous game, I’m not sure there’s enough new material here to warrant the upgrade (which was not the case from 10 to 11). However, if you’re looking to get into golf games (or have a supreme love of The Masters), then this a pretty solid deal, especially with all the single-player course options and the online multiplayer.