The lights are on
What new ideas the game brings to the table and how well old ideas are presented.
How good a game looks, taking into account any flaws such as bad collision or pop-up.
Does the game’s music and sound effects get you involved or do they make you resolve to always play with the volume down?
Basically, the controller to human interface. The less you think about the hunk of plastic in your hands, the better the playability.
Flat out, just how fun the game is to play. The most important factor in rating a game.
Fight Night Champion’s story mode is garnering buzz for bringing a
dose of drama to the normal sports gaming grind. Tiger Woods is also
doing its part. No, the game doesn’t have a story mode, and you’re not
smashing the back window out of your fender-bent Escalade with your golf
club. However, centering the rebuilt career mode on The Masters
tournament is a great decision that finally binds a lot of the game’s
loose ends under a cohesive structure to chronicle your rise from
amateur to PGA Tour champion. It helps turn leisurely afternoons on the
greens into competitive fights that bring out the best in the series,
making Tiger 12 one of the high notes of the franchise.
previously separate Tiger Challenges are now integrated into a single
career path, and instead of feeling like a club hack wandering around
looking for a round of golf in earlier Tiger games, I now feel like a
golfer on the rise in charge of his career. From the jump you’re playing
in tournaments, working on sponsorship objectives, and setting your
sights on the Masters and the PGA Tour. It sounds like a surface
alteration to the classic Tiger career structure, but apart from making
things more exciting, this has a positive effect on the balance of the
game. Playing well in these early tournaments gives you the opportunity
to get a big XP bump and therefore the chance to raise your attributes
without having to grind as much early like previous games.
didn’t take me too long to work my way through the amateur ranks, earn a
birth to Q school, and even get past the Nationwide tour to get to the
PGA tour. I was also making a dent on my worldwide ranking and the
year’s FedEx board. But this seemingly meteoric rise doesn’t mean the
game lacks meat on the bones. Optional events like Tiger Challenges are
built into tournaments on the schedule, and now that getting equipment
isn’t tied to money but is unlocked by completing sponsorship challenges
(like completing a full round at a course without getting a bogey),
there are plenty of content carrots to chase.
This more focused
approach to the career mode is mirrored in the gameplay with the
introduction of a caddie. Your caddie gives you shot options that take
into account factors such as the lie of the ball, weather, course
elevation, draw/fade, etc. This is not only useful in speeding up play
and making things easier, but the caddie often smartly led me to safer
areas of the green with certain approach shots. While the caddie
simplifies matters, playing Tiger isn’t easy. Even though your caddie
tells you which percentage to hit, actually producing a smooth swing
that hits that number is often difficult. I’ve used the practice swing
feature more than I ever have in the past. Moreover, your caddie’s info
isn’t always rock solid, but improves the more times you visit the
course and meet certain objectives. That said, there were many times
when I followed my gut instincts and used a custom shot (which is
basically like golfing the old way) for better results. I got a better
feel for my clubs’ swings and differences in the process. Similar to
mid-air spin and other assists, if you don’t like the caddie feature,
you can always toggle it off.
Unfortunately, PlayStation 3 owners
with a Move controller are hamstrung by the visual disconnect between
the controller’s accurate movements and your onscreen avatar. Your
backswing often appears choppy, and this gets in the way of judging
which percentage you’re swinging at.
Through the years the Tiger
franchise has layered on more realistic tour touches like the FedEx
championship, the Masters, or the U.S. Open. This year EA’s lined things
up and knocked the ball down the fairway straight and true. I think the
next step for the franchise is to infuse more of the hole-to-hole drama
as players chase each other up and down the leaderboard instead of each
hole feeling the same, but this is a great start that makes your Tiger
experience feel cohesive. Instead of chasing Tiger as the game’s
ultimate end goal, now I feel like I’m building up my own career and
writing my own story to the top. That’s a great feeling.
The PS3's Move functionality includes a new first-person camera and the ability to add mid-flight spin, but your onscreen swing isn't smooth.
The career path accommodates different levels of skill. Some might get to the PGA Tour faster than others, but it's not going to take you forever.
XP is awarded for various feats even on a bad round.
Email the author Matthew Kato, or follow on Twitter, and Game Informer.