Where to begin? I think I could talk for hours about this game, and still only scratch the surface of all the content and details that are there. Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12: The Masters is a game that seems to offer every aspect of golf you can think of, and throws in a few more that haven’t occurred to you for good measure. Veteran Tiger Woods players and newcomers alike will find a lot to like in this year’s version.
Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12: The Masters has really gone the extra mile to bring an authentic look and feel to its golf game. The golf courses are literally quite beautiful, and very realistic. The flowers are brightly colored; the water hazards shimmer in the sun; the grass is lush and green and very realistic. Every effort has been made to keep them true to their real life counterparts, which is a nice touch for gamers who like to get in some real games in addition to their digital ones. Even the lay of the land on the courses has been recreated, giving you as real a golf experience as possible without having to leave the comfort of your living room. You can enjoy the scenery as you play, or do a flyby to view each course before you play it. Veteran golf announcers David Feherty and Jim Nantz lend authenticity and a familiar sound as they give the play-by-play on each hole, and a politely restrained crowd even oohs and aahs after each swing of the club.
There are four different difficulty levels to choose from-Amateur, Pro, Tour Pro, and Tournament – and the differences between them mainly involve which game aids you are given and how much influence the wind has on your game. For instance, in amateur mode the wind isn’t a factor at all and you get 1 preview for each putt, Pro mode still offers putt preview but you’ll also have to deal with a little bit of wind, and in tournament mode you have to deal with large gusts of wind and no previews are given at all.
The career mode, which is called Road To The Masters, allows you to follow a natural progression from playing golf in your hometown to the ultimate goal of participating in The Masters. You being with participation in a small town event, and then progress to the Amateur Tour. From there, you will advance to the Nationwide Tour, and then to Q School, and finally you achieve a shot to play at The Masters. Along the way, you are shown lists of the objectives you must achieve in order to advance to the next step on your road to The Masters. Any pro golfer worth his salt is swimming in sponsorships, and acquiring sponsors is part of your journey as well. You’ll get sponsorship objectives as well as golf ones, and completing these will earn you better equipment as well as bigger and better sponsorships.
If you want a sure shot at that invite to The Masters, as well as a break from your tour, you can play Masters Moments. These are 9 of the most celebrated moments from Masters history, and you get to recreate them, playing as some of the greatest names in golf. As you select a Masters Moment top lay, you are given a synopsis of the real life moment, and then an objective to pass or master, such as getting within a certain distance of the hole. Passing all nine Masters Moments earns you a guaranteed invite to The Masters. To pass means to achieve the same level as the greats did, and to master means to surpass them. For Tiger Woods superfans, Tiger At The Masters is the ultimate in role playing. You can play as the iconic golfer himself and recreate Tiger’s four trips to The Masters. For some team golf, you can try out The President’s Cup, in which the American team facing off against the world to win the title.
The caddie is really great feature of the game, particularly for newcomers to the genre. Just like in real life, your caddie is an invaluable asset to your game, offering tips and suggestions to improve your game. At each hole, he will suggest shots and clubs for you. The trajectory of each suggested shot is shown, with low risk shots in green and more risky ones in yellow. You can choose from his suggestions by toggling the left and right shoulder buttons and pressing the “X” button to select the shot you want, or you can choose to do your own custom shot. You can turn the caddie off at any time during the game, so veterans of the series won’t have to sit through needless tutoring if they don’t want to.
The characters in Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12: The Masters are quite realistic, down to their disappointed expressions when their shots don’t quite hit the mark. Your character is very customizable; after you select a gender you can choose from various eye and hair colors, adjust the different parts of your body, and “adjust your ethnic background.” There is even the option to use your own face, either with the Playstation Eye camera or by downloading your own photos, and the rest of your body will still be customizable. If character customizing isn’t your thing, you can choose to have your character randomized instead.
Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12: The Masters has two choices for controls: standard and Move. In the standard selection, you perform your swing by pulling back the Left control stick and flicking it back up with varying amounts of force and angle. On Move controls, the force and angle of the swing is based on how you swing the controller. This does a pretty good job of making you feel like you are right in the game, and it’s easy enough to switch back and forth between the two control schemes for a bit of variety. My one complaint with the Move controls is that it doesn’t give you any camera set-up, meaning you’ll just have to guess at proper camera positioning.
I also ran into a little annoyance with the save function on the game, relating to multiple save files. There are 4 save slots available to you. You can create multiple characters with their own careers, and set one as default. However, the next time you start up the game, only the default golfer will remain – the other slots will appear empty. This happens only at restart-the other character will show up in another save slot when you create it, but it will be gone when you next start up the game. I did find out that the other saves are till there-you need to click on an empty slot and select “Load” to access them.
Speaking of multiple characters, you can also fire up the game and play a round of golf against your friends and family. You and your opponent can select from your own characters or a number of professional golfers and face off in a realistic game of virtual golf. You can each select your control, as well, meaning if some of you like the Move function and others prefer the standard controls, everyone will be happy. The competition was fun and challenging, and I have no complaints about the execution of the mode, other than that it can be a little confusing to figure out whose turn it is since it isn’t always one shot each. We ended up just reading the back of the caddie’s shirt to see who was up.
Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12: The Masters is a well-executed game with an abundance of content to keep golf fans happy for hours. You can live the dream of starting out small and making it big in Career mode. You can relive some of the most memorable moments in golf in the Masters Moments and Tiger at the Masters modes. You can even pick up a controller and start a friendly competition with your friends. The real life courses have been painstakingly recreated, and your opponents play realistically for their level in competition. Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12: The Masters does everything you can think of and more to give you the feeling of being right there, playing on the pro circuit and praying for an effective swing. I give Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12: The Masters a 9 out of 10, and recommend it Tiger Woods Golf veterans and newcomers alike, and to anyone who has every wished they could play a round of golf when the course is just out of reach.