Yearly sports video game franchises are faced with a difficult task: continuously renewing and perfecting themselves in order to keep things fresh and to draw people in. The latest instalment of Tiger Woods PGA Tour does just that.
Deep customisation, an overhauled online aspect, and the introduction of the historically-inclined Legends of the Majors mode all contribute to making PGA Tour 14 the definitive Tiger Woods game. Here’s a sampling of what critics have said.
Satisfying gameplay is the crux of the Tiger Woods franchise. All the new modes in the world wouldn’t matter if it didn’t feel so amazing to actually play. Luckily, Tiger Woods PGA 14 stays true to the core gameplay, and adds a very worthwhile mode with Legends of the Majors. All of the other new bells and whistles are either mediocre or long overdue.
The campaign in Tiger Woods PGA Tour 14 is where you’re likely to go after spending a couple minutes meditating to the main menu’s tranquil music. Before you can play you’ll have to create a character. Although just about everything can be defined for your custom golfer, from head size to testosterone levels, you’ll have to settle with a limited wardrobe until you increase in levels. One improvement made is being able to tweak the golfer swing style for your character, from shot shape to shot type. The selections made have ramifications on the greens, both good and bad, and add a sense of individuality to your custom golfer.
Golf is a sport steeped in history, and Tiger Woods PGA Tour 14 puts that all at the forefront with its new Legends of the Majors mode. Coinciding with the series finally including all four major tournaments, the mode spans 140 years of action, with several dozen events that plop you in the shoes of iconic players facing their biggest challenges and reliving their greatest moments.
Of course, the meat of the experience is still Career mode. For the first time in any game, all four major tournaments are playable: the PGA Championship, U.S. Open, the Masters, and the Open Championship. Plus, you can choose to play through the LPGA tournament with the inclusion of the Kraft Nabisco Championship, also for the first time. It’s a lot of content to go through, but it’s all well worthwhile.
Online play also continues as a focal point, as Country Clubs — groups of friends that can congregate with aggregated stats and their own tournaments — are back and expanded this go-round. Entire communities sprung up around these Clubs last year, and it was a wise decision to boost their membership from 25 people to 100 for this season. While many players will never head into online golf, those that do have a way to find like-minded people with similar skill levels and desired experience — something all sports games could benefit from.
The action on the course remains largely the same from last year, except for the new swing arcs. Like changing your club tuning, fiddling with your swing arc has its advantages. This lets you change the flight characteristics of your ball, including your power, control, and how the wind affects your shot.
There are more courses on the basic disc than every before. The swing’s value is even greater thanks to design changes elsewhere that highlight its determinism, and deliver the sense that you made a great shot, you didn’t just plug in coordinates. And the all-out delivery of longtime fan requests — I sat in their office and begged for playoffs last April, and they sucked it up and found a way — speaks to a game working to earn your dollar, where some of its more highly regarded peers have been playing out the string on this console generation.
Top picture: Gergő Vas