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Gaming just like Augusta

Senior Staff Writer

Published: Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Updated: Friday, August 23, 2013 17:08

It’s a bit strange that EA Sports’ “Tiger Woods PGA Tour 13” still uses Woods as its namesake, as he hasn’t been the same since injuries and a high-profile divorce began to derail his professional career a few years ago. Despite his fall from grace, the game itself is well-made, with a loving treatment toward the game of golf as a whole and an interesting new mode that follows Woods’ entire golfing career. As I haven’t played the series year-in and year-out, I can’t say whether it’s a stark improvement on previous titles. On its own, though, it’s a very fun way to hit the links.

From the moment the game starts, it’s obvious a lot of time and love have been put into the presentation. The graphics are beautiful. I immediately jumped into a game at Augusta National and it looked nearly lifelike, with every little quirk of the course digitally represented. From the greens to the woods, there are rarely visual issues (though replays bring this all crashing down, as they frequently feature putters sliding through balls) and the players themselves look lifelike. There’s a strong cast of playable top-50 golfers from the PGA Tour, and each excels in a different specialty.

The gameplay also feels right, EA has captured the spirit of golf in this one. The new swing mechanic is much like NBA2K’s shot meter and MLB2K12’s swing meter; the accuracy and rhythm of the left stick’s motion translates how you want your shot. It’s got a difficulty curve as players get used to it (I had many balls end up sailing into the woods in my first round), but it’s a rewarding system that will have players striving for improvement and perfection. Need to chip it up? Want topspin? You can change your shot’s connection point with the ball, and you’ll see the effects when it hits the ground. Putting is a bit of a sticking point, as close putts are difficult to get the hang of, but that’s also somewhat due to the learning curve; eventually, those 20-foot putts start going in and then the 30-footers follow.

The new flagship feature in “13” is quite strange; while you can make your own player, the majority of new content can be found in “Tiger Legacy” mode. Players control Woods throughout his entire golfing life, and the mode begins with a two-year-old Woods driving into a net and chipping from the sandbox into the pool in his backyard. It’s offbeat and takes some getting used to, but the mode quickly turns entertaining, then addictive. Challenges get more difficult as Tiger grows up and starts winning tournaments, but they’re engaging and a welcome change from a generic “win the Masters” mode.

There are some small flaws in “13” here and there, but for the most part it’s a very enjoyable golfing simulator. On its own, it stands as one of EA’s better sports games released recently, and for those who want to hit the links but can’t until the end of the school year, it’ll be a welcome distraction.

 

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