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Tiger Woods PGA Tour 14

Score: 92%
ESRB: Everyone 10+
Publisher: EA Sports
Developer: EA Tiburon
Media: DVD/1
Players: 1 - 4 (1 - 2 Online Multiplayer)
Genre: Sports (Golf)/ Arcade/ Simulation

Graphics & Sound:

Each year one has to wonder with any sports title, "How much more can the graphics improve?" In the case of a title like Tiger Woods PGA Tour 14, the answer isÖ a little. While the visuals certainly look great, realistically things are certainly being recycled or, at the very least, are perceptually appearing to be similar from year to year on the aging Xbox 360.

That said, the character models look great, no matter whom you choose to play as. Even though Tiger is the benefactor of the most attention, ageless models of Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, and other stars past and present still make it enjoyable to watch the on-screen action with each stroke.

It can be said that, like all games, Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2014 has a few graphical glitches. The most noticeable came repeatedly with overlays that attempt to simulate a TV-style presentation. Unfortunately, the Event Leaders overlay consistently covered up the swing meter. Itís true that you donít need to see it to perform the action of swinging, but that distraction is enough to annoy due to the lack of feedback it provides after the shot.

From an audio standpoint, Tiger once again has the benefit of slow pace for the commentators to call the action in a reasonable and inviting fashion. The sounds from the course also contribute to the atmosphere, and to the enjoyable and relaxing play of the gameÖ well, except for that pesky 'splash' sound that kept coming up for some reason.


Gameplay:

Iím not sure what hitting a little white ball around a vast landscape has to do with 'fun,' but it sure is accomplished in Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2014. (Okay, Iíll admit that I love golf, so that was for all of you non-golfers out there.) With different gameplay modes available, you can most notably choose to play locally in your created career or taking your game online and competing against other virtual golfers.

As for new features, Tiger Woods PGA Tour 14 does have a few. In addition to playing as classic legends and current players alike, you'll have the ability to drop into historic scenarios complete with old-school courses, clubs, and apparel. Youíll also be able to compete in the LPGA Tour for the first time ever. Online matches allow for a relatively quick gameplay component with all golfers shooting at the same time. This year, the game contains what feel like persistent servers that allow you to see the ball paths of many more players than the typical foursome.

Online, youíll also be able to again join a Club where you and your teammates can compete and earn experience points against other Clubs. You can enter into many different contests, from one or multiple rounds of stroke play to skins or other events. One thing that drove me crazy, however, is that so many people were shooting such low scores that it really took away some of the enjoyment. Of course, as a competitor, it can also put a little drive into your game (pun intended). Still, I do wish that there was some method of interjection for better players to be forced into using higher difficulty modes to keep the skill levels matched a bit better.

Once again, and as always, the nature of Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2014 allows for a pick up and play style of gameplay. Lining up your shots and taking the swing toward perfection is pretty straightforward, and doesnít take a gamer to get into. The courses range from fairly easy with flat-ish greens to rolling fairways and professional pin placements, some dry as a desert and others with more water that you may care to hit into. How you end up performing will likely depend greatly on your difficulty settings.


Difficulty:

With the variety of difficulty settings present in Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2014, the game will certainly appeal to a wide range of gamers. Playing on a lower degree of difficulty may mean that there wonít be quite as much challenge, but it also doesnít mean that youíll have less fun. One of the nice things about a game like this is the ability to truly balance controls with challenge.

At lower difficulties, the precision needed to make the perfect swing is far more forgiving. This way if you canít quite find the perfect rotation with your thumb, you can still hit a decent shot. Note that it still wonít be a perfect shot as trailing imperfections will continue to affect the outcome, but the adverse affects arenít as great as with more advanced difficulty settings.

As you decide to move up, however, youíll begin to also get into more idiosyncrasies like the requirement of needing to hold your strike position throughout the swing (instead of the pre-swing method in lower difficulties). Of course, learning to master these controls takes a bit of getting used to and requires some persistence.

The other thing to note about difficulty settings is that with the less difficult methods, youíll notice a lot lower scores online. Unfortunately, this is one of my pet peeves of Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2014. Players consistently shooting 22-24 under par on an 18-hole course is unrealistic in nature, and that is where the simulation of this sports title breaks down.


Game Mechanics:

From a technical standpoint and as mentioned above, the control scheme for Tiger Woods PGA Tour 14 is simple to use and anyone should be able to pick up and play with relative ease. Certainly, the level of control also can go into more depth for spinning the ball or otherwise manipulating shots too.

With that said, the big question on everyoneís mind is "Should I upgrade?"

The answer may depend on your commitment to the series. If you have last yearís game and are fine with that, then you may want to hold off for more improvements and features that seem to sometimes come every couple of years, even though this yearís title does have a few interesting new additions.

If you need to have the latest and greatest, however, then maybe Tiger Woods PGA Tour 14 is for you. It certainly does have enough to keep you entertained for a while, but the nature of a golf game is that it really is more of the same. The most notable feature in my mind is the ability to play historic scenarios, but others may appeal to the individual playing. In all, Tiger Woods PGA Tour 14 is a worthy title and has an enjoyable, relaxing feel that can be a nice break from shooters and action titles.


-Woody, GameVortex Communications
AKA Shane Wodele

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