I like golf. It’s a sport that virtually anybody can become good at, and the camaraderie that comes from walking with friends for a few hours while competing for longest short and best hole every weekend is one of my favorite childhood memories. And that’s why computer and console golf has always held a special place for me: not only is it the rare sports game that I understand, but the attached nostalgia makes every round a fun one. Tiger Woods PGA Tour 14 is the most complete golf game I’ve ever played. From the excellent swing mechanics, to the variety of courses, to the great excellent online offerings, I was pleased at every turn with the experience.
Total Swing Control was present in last year’s entry, and it was great there. It is much the same here, which is good. The addition made is that each golfer has a specific style that they use to strike the ball like Power or Control. It makes every golfer feel unique while retaining the control the player has come to expect from Tiger Woods. Now instead of hiding many of these things behind stats, players will see a different-sized accuracy ring or perfect shots going different distances and be able to attribute that to each golfer’s personal style. It’s a small change, but it was a good one to make.
The expected game modes are all present: quick play, tournament and career. However you’d like to spend your time golfing, EA has you covered. I tend to stick with career, and the changes made this year really flesh the mode out nicely. First, all four major PGA tournaments are available for the first time. Typically licensing issues prevent the inclusion of The Masters and The British Open, but EA has managed to snag both this year. As the years pass in career mode, tournament locations change as expected, and with 20 courses available on the disc there is plenty of variety.
Of the 20 courses available five are new: Muirfield Country Club, Royal Troon Golf Club, Mission Hills Golf Club, Oak Hill Country Club and TPC Louisiana. Another new course, Colonial Country Club, is available as downloadable content, along with 21 other courses that can be purchased in packs or individually. The 20 courses available on the disc are good ones, and picking up all 22 of the downloadable courses extends Tiger Woods PGA Tour 14 immensely. It doesn’t feel like EA held back content here; it provided a lot and is offering even more to those that want it.
The biggest change that I’m most excited about, however, is a removal from last year’s game. In years past, custom golfers have been granted boosts from clothing items. This is no longer the case in Tiger 14. Now clothing is all cosmetic, and I don’t have to choose between the shirt that I like and the shirt that delivers the boost I want most. Now I can just decide what I want my golfer to look like and leave it at that. Clothing is still earned as a result of good and continued play, but now there is no penalty for using clothes that you like instead of the clothes you unlocked most recently that give the best boost.
While EA did a great job with the downloadable content here, offering a good number of courses, it also took a misstep in offering consumable purchases. Players can and are using real money to buy coins to trade for experience to create maxed-out golfers immediately after purchase. This kind of behavior (clearly) makes EA money, but it cheapens the experience of everybody else playing online. I got my rank up by playing the game, and I’m nowhere near maxed out. My opponent got his rank up by throwing down more money, and that doesn’t feel right. With as much as I like the removal of boosts tied to clothing, I’d love to see the removal of purchasable coins in next year’s game.
2012’s game had us playing as Tiger Woods throughout his career. It was a great diversion from the norm, and it created a story for those players that shy away from career. This year, instead of playing only as Tiger, EA has created a Legends of the Majors mode that takes you through the history of the game through nine iconic players like Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer (who is sharing this year’s cover with Tiger).
The last big change this year is Connected Tournaments. Connected Tournaments allow 24 players to attempt any number of challenges or tournaments posted by EA to up their experience, gain coins, and gain club points for their country club. Playing at the same time sounds hectic, but it’s really neat to see 23 other shot arcs as you all attempt a challenge together. Traditional tournaments are still around, of course, but Connected Tournaments are a fun spin on a traditional mode.
If you like golf at all, then it’s time to upgrade. Tiger Woods PGA Tour 14 is not just a good golf game – it’s a good game, period. Wide variety of courses, fun online modes, and the new Legends of the Majors mode make for a game that everybody at EA should be proud of.
Pros: Course variety is great, Connected Tournaments are a fun new concept
Cons: Purchasable coins turned into experience cheapen the experience for all involved