Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12: The Masters Xbox 360
Published by Electronic Arts
Developed by EA Sports
Tiger Woods might not be doing so great these days but the games that bear his name are definitely at the top of the leaderboard. Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12: The Masters manages to improve upon the other games in the series, which is no mean feat, but the improvements certainly aren't that numerous. However, this year's game, as the name suggests, brings the Masters Tournament and the course at Augusta National to the experience amongst other things to add another level of authenticity to the series.
By far the biggest attraction with Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12 is the inclusion of the Augusta National course (and the Augusta National Par 3 course) and the ability to play in the Masters tournament. Your virtual pro career, the career mode has now been called Road to the Masters, will begin with the Amateur Tour and you'll have the opportunity to progress all the way through to the PGA Tour and the Masters itself as you bid to win a green jacket. The inclusion of the Masters has been a long time coming but there's no doubt that it adds a level of authenticity that was previously missing.
In addition to playing through the career mode, there is also a Masters Moments mode which gives you the opportunity to try your hand at a collection of scenarios that have been taken from bygone Masters events. These range from the 1958 Masters right up to last year's event. If there's a criticism to be had with the Masters Moments it's that three of the scenarios are featured around Tiger Woods and only one for arguably the greatest golfer of all time, Jack Nicklaus which is surprising given how many times The Golden Bear has won the event. A mode called Tiger at the Masters allows you to play through Tiger's four Masters winning tournaments (in 1997, 2001, 2002 and 2005). You're faced with exactly the same conditions as Tiger and essentially your goal is not only to replicate his tournament wins but also to improve upon Tiger's score.
Aside from all of the Masters paraphernalia, the other major addition has to be the inclusion of a caddie. The caddie offers verbal advice on how to approach the hole and usually a choice of shots that you could take. The choices he makes are good for the most part and on the whole I think it's a solid addition to the game. However, there are problems with the Caddie. He does, on the odd occasion give poor advice. There are even times when he has no advice at all remarking that this shot is down to 'player's choice'. I'm not sure a real caddie would impress by shrugging his shoulders and remarking that it's up to you. The biggest problem however is that the caddie comments are not subtitled meaning that deaf gamers will miss out on the benefits that he offers (apart from being able to choose which of the two shots he suggests). You also can't turn the caddie completely off which some might find annoying.
Those expecting some significant changes to the core Tiger Woods PGA Tour experience might be a little disappointed because, in all honesty, the game at its core doesn't really offer any major changes. As in previous years, TWPGA Tour still plays a slick round of golf, both online and offline, and in fairness to the developers it's difficult to see how radical changes could be made to what is essentially a successful formula. I suppose it would have been nice to have seen support included for the Kinect and whilst it's great to see around fifteen courses included on the disk, there are actually more courses that are available as DLC. I personally feel that more courses could have been included on the disk.
I don't honestly think the game could look any better on this generation of consoles than it does in TWPGA Tour 12. However, I do feel the golfer models could look a little better. The courses, however, look stunning and those who have waited so long for a Tiger Woods game to feature the Augusta National will certainly not be disappointed by its virtual representation in the game. There are no performance problems here with a smooth frame rate throughout and short loading times helping you to get through a round of virtual golf with the minimum of delay.
Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12, as you might expect, doesn't cater as well as it could for deaf gamers. In addition to the caddie comments not being subtitled, there are other areas in which the game disappoints due to not being subtitled. The commentary isn't subtitled, which is disappointing as it's actually quite good. The video clips in the game, including the tutorial video, aren't subtitled. The intros to the Masters Moments challenges aren't subtitled and whilst you are still shown the basic goals in text, it does prevent you from fully appreciating the ambience of the game mode. There are also some comments given out when you're looking through the game menus that are not subtitled. None of the omissions prevent deaf gamers from being able to play the game but nevertheless it would have been better had all of the speech in the game been subtitled.
Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12 is the definitive golf game for the Xbox 360. That's not to say it's a big improvement on recent titles in the series but the improvements more than justify the purchase and that's saying something when you consider how good recent titles in the series have been. It's a shame the series has not improved its support for deaf gamers and it's particularly disappointing to find the caddie's comments aren't subtitled. That said, the game on the whole is very impressive and it's highly likely that it's not going to be until the next generation of consoles that we'll see a golf game noticeably better.