I have to say right off the bat, or should that be club that I’m not a fan of golf, the sport or video games – although if I recall correctly I do remember playing a golf game that had strippers and other wacky characters (Outlaw golf) and enjoyed that on Xbox. So whether I am really qualified to review the “a bit more serious” Tiger Woods PGA Tour 13 is up for debate. That said, as a gamer and from the perspective of someone looking at joining the Tiger in EA’s 13th iteration of the sport, I can with open arms and a fresh mind cast judgement on how accommodating the game is to new players. Obviously owners of the 2012 version will be well versed in what’s new and what to expect from the game and will undoubtedly have traded in last year’s game or not depending on whether they think the latest is worth it. So if you’re one of those then this review is likely to not be worth reading, for anyone else stay tuned.
So having gotten this game to review I tentatively jumped into the experience with Kinect, seeing as this is the first time the series has had the controller free device implemented. I opted for a two player game with my other half and noticed right off the bat how bloody awkward it was to actually get the game started. Lots of menu screens and things to accept due to EA’s stupid policies and whatnot made for a tiring start to the experience. What happened to just booting the game, hitting start, selecting the mode and starting? A complete joke in which I could already my competitor getting bored.
Once the navigation was complete I selected a standard 9 hole two player match, with me choosing Tiger Woods, and my opponent a female golfer who’s name escapes me. So, Kinect actually works really well – when it actually detects your movements. To the extent where both of us were teeing off and putting with relative ease. I will hasten to add that the voice commands are sketchy at best as often I would speak the command and nothing would happen – not a patch on how well the Xbox dash works. I also found that the “aim shot” option where holding out a clenched fist and moving it around to aim the shot was way too sensitive and not as accurate as it could be.
Aside from control and voice gripes, the game was actually very easy to get into, taking turns to perform shots and generally upping the levels of competitiveness. It’s was a bit jarring to be facing the screen head on as opposed to from the side as you would expect, but after a while it’s something you get used to. So… 9 holes later and we’d had a reasonable amount of fun, although the general pacing is quite slow and the tracking a bit hit and miss when there’s another player sitting within range of Kinect. A good start then with pick up and play qualities which anyone should be able to get to grips with after about 5 minutes learning the required movements and controls – the “ask caddie” being a must have action for most shots.
Moving away from Kinect, I opted to hit the career mode, it’s a pretty standard feature in EA sports games where you create a character (from photo or using the in-game tools) and head out from the bottom working your way up to the PGA Tour. En route you can earn experience points, partake in challenges and get sponsors and unlock clothing and goodies. There’s a lot here except it’s a mode for the most dedicated of players because it’s painfully slow to do anything, and incredibly long winded to play through tons of rounds of golf to progress. I can see this as a holy ritual for fans, but anyone else should stay well clear unless you have time on your hands.
So, playing with a controller and instantly I noticed how different the gameplay was. Kinect simply has you perform one swing when hitting the ball, whereas the controller takes into consideration the speed and accuracy which affects where the ball is going to land. In a nutshell, Kinect is very much easier to play and to a degree feels like cheating compared to a controller.
Without going into details, there’s a lot on offer for the single player game here where you could spend weeks and months and even a year playing though all the modes, unlocking all the extras and this is before embarking on the online options which are vast and rewarding for players wanting to extend the experience beyond their own four walls.
In terms of looks, the game is pleasant enough utilizing some well rendered models of the current stars of golf,including the Tiger and some perfect recreations of the courses. Although I did notice a slew of courses were locked off from the offset which is perhaps a mixed blessing. The courses feel authentic, yet some of the up close foliage in the replays looks very blocky and lacking in detail. A minor complaint but considering the emptiness of the game something that could have been addressed no doubt. The menus are slick and well presented, and if using Kinect quite easy to navigate once you nail what’s required.
Audio is actually quite relaxing, as if listening to the sounds of nature as you work the holes. It’s almost pleasant to leave the game running as you go about your daily business as the sounds are that realistic. I liked the audience and the commentary was non intrusive.
With plentiful hours of playtime to sink into this latest game and that’s before heading online or unlocking stuff, as a game for newcomers, PGA Tour 13 is easy to play, easy to get into and reasonably welcoming. I’d say it’s much better suited as a semi-serious game for Kinect owners, as this aspect whilst flawed in some ways, makes for a great introduction to the sport and how it’s realised on consoles. Can I recommend buying this game? Of course, very much so if you’re looking for a golfing party game, or something a bit more engaging as a solo offering. It might lack the overt humour and sex appeal of the Outlaw Golf game I mentioned, but is still worth the investment if you’ve got any interest in the sport, and with Kinect, even if you don’t.