Throughout its history, the Tiger Woods PGA Tour series has been the Old Faithful of sports games. You’re pretty much guaranteed the same level of quality year after year, but that constancy comes at the price of innovation, as the gameplay itself seems to change very little. As we at Wii3 have noted in the past, if you’ve played one Tiger Woods game, you’ve played them all. Thankfully this year’s version, Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12: The Masters, does a fine job of freshening up the series with some new courses and options while still retaining the core mechanics that have made the game a winner time and again.
As its name suggests, this year’s Tiger Woods is all about the Masters, and with good reason. Augusta National Golf Club has been notoriously reticent about allowing its famous course to appear in video games over the years, which makes what EA Sports has accomplished even more of a coup. The course itself is rendered beautifully in game, with an attention to detail surpassing anything the franchise has done previously. EA has taken full advantage of its unprecedented access, featuring the voice of The Masters, Jim Nantz, on commentary and offering the new “Masters Moments” mode as a way for golf fans to replay some of the most iconic
Surprisingly, EA Sports didn’t stop with the inclusion of the Augusta course, adding some new features and tweaking some existing ones to really enhance gameplay. The new Caddie Mode is one of the more interesting additions, giving the player a virtual caddie who suggests shots and doles out advice during play. This is a great feature for those new to the game, but even experienced players may find themselves getting a second opinion from their caddie during a particularly tough hole.
One more thing to mention is the retooled Career Mode, which is now called “Road to the Masters” in honor of this year’s theme. We at Wii3 have always had a problem with the way the Tiger Woods series separates its Career Mode and Challenge Mode, which forced the player to complete challenges separately in order to increase their stats for the career portion. Thankfully, these two modes have been integrated in Tiger Woods 12, creating a smoother, more realistic experience in which challenges are blended seamlessly into the career play.
Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12 is a game with few flaws, but unfortunately those it does have can be glaring. For whatever reason, the graphical capabilities of the Wii are not a great fit for Tiger Woods 12, and the game looks the worst on this system out of all the current generation consoles. It’s really a shame, as the gorgeously rendered Masters course is somewhat wasted on the Wii’s hardware, with occasional lags and frame rate skipping. One wonders what the next-gen Wii2 could do with such a beautiful game. The character models are also somewhat lacking, having a blocky, outdated look that’s reminiscent of last-generation consoles.
Minor visual complaints aside, Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12: The Masters is the best golf game in recent memory and a must buy for any golf enthusiast who owns a Wii. Even gamers who aren’t fans of the sport will enjoy this simulation, as many of the new options are geared toward simplifying the game and making it easy for the novice to master.