As if to appease long-term fans, weary of the inclusion of all this newfangled motion control business, EA have gifted Tiger Woods PGA Tour 13 with easily the series’ most pedantic and hard-to-master swing system to date. The new display shows you exactly what the trajectory of your perfect backswing should look like when you execute it, leaving the old system – in which you had to gauge each shot based on where hitting at less than 100% power would leave you – locked out in the cold. You now also have to balance speed and tempo with overswing – all of this done with the left stick, incidentally – and though the system will take most players quite a bit of time to truly master, it genuinely rewards patience and observant fine-tuning; and consequently, it’s resoundingly satisfying when you nail it.
The other marquee feature this year is the very well-publicised Legacy mode in which you essentially play through Tiger Woods’ entire life, and the only disappointment with it is that it doesn’t actually have a narrative of any kind. The man himself is on hand to intermittently deliver the odd contextual monologue throughout, and the mode’s difficulty levels are so well structured that it effectively functions as a sort of rolling, slow-burn tutorial, but the opportunity to do something truly bold (and a bit more involving) has definitely been missed. It’s very entertaining and substantial but also oddly clinical, but to give credit where it’s due, it’s going to be fun regardless of whether or not you’ve played one of these games before.
Like EA’s marvellous recent SSX reboot, PGA Tour 13 has a fundamental new in-game currency; however unlike in SSX, here you can use these accumulated funds to actually buy proper downloadable content. At first, the process of buying one of these downloadable courses is more akin to renting it – with you paying by the round – but as you continue to rank up your course mastery levels, you’ll eventually unlock permanent access. Of course, you can always take a shortcut and buy your way in with actual funds, but very importantly, the game never strong-arms you into seeing this as an option unless you want it to be one; ranking up isn’t a particularly fast process per se, but you’ll never feel that you’re grinding because the sense of progression seems so surprisingly organic.
The Xbox 360 version’s new Kinect implementation – which has been a big focus for EA, clearly – is almost as neat as it appears to be, despite the fact that navigating the occasionally labyrinthine menus can be a bit of a pain in the proverbial; selecting an option with a satisfying air slap works like a charm, but manoeuvring up and down is occasionally a little too finicky for a nearby pad not to be a constant necessity. Still, if you’re partial to a game of golf in the real world – and haven’t been enamoured by Tiger Woods games in the past – this is unquestionably an experience that’s worth investigating, for fans both new and old. It isn’t as visually slick as last year’s instalment but this won’t really bother anyone; PGA Tour 13 is yet another winner.
Tiger Woods PGA Tour 13 is available now for the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3.
Watch the Kinect launch trailer for Tiger Woods PGA Tour 13 below: