To date, there have been 16 Tiger Woods golfing games since 1998, and while the number on this one is 14 (that’s the year), we have reviewed every one of those 16 games.
Apart from the fact that in recent times it’s been virtually impossible to distinguish one year’s release from another, this year EA has failed, yet again, to do the one thing we – as big fans of EA Tiger Woods golf games – would really like to see and that is to recognise and reward loyal fans of the game who have bought previous versions.
Sadly, for yet another year, we find that EA makes no effort to recognise that you’ve played a Tiger game before (easily accomplished by looking for save games on your console’s hard drive) and automatically giving a player a boost, or unlocking more clubs and gear, for instance.
This would be a simple way for EA to encourage loyal fans to make their annual purchase which, with incremental releases like this, ought to be a real focus.
For the first time, Tiger Woods PGA 14 brings players all four major world golfing tournaments: the Masters Tournament, US Open, PGA Championship and the British Open (or the Open Championship).
Other ‘firsts’ include full ladies’ LPGA and the ability to play golf at, gasp, night time!
We’re not sure how much these things add to your golfing experience, but EA has surely focus-tested these things, so some folk somewhere are no doubt delighted. Oddly, arguably the hardest parts of playing golf in real life and this game are the short game and putting, and neither of these aspects are covered in the tutorial, or in the in-game software manual.
There are some really stupid design decisions in Tiger Woods PGA Tour 14, though.
We’re sure that the complex player creation facility in most of EA’s sports games are enormous fun for the uber-fan who simply can’t play their favourite sporting title without having the character look exactly like they do.
For the other 99% of players, however, the player creation system is a drag, and it’s not very well thought through.
Getting off to the worst possible start, the first characteristic you can alter is your player’s hairstyle – only the default player you start with is wearing a baseball cap emblazoned, of course, with the EA sports logo, but you can’t take it off. So you can’t see the different hairstyles, which is genius.
Similarly idiotic is the dev team’s decision to keep using leaderboard score tables, some of which pop onto the screen and entirely obscure the putting meter, for instance. They then stubbornly stay on the screen so you have to swing when you can’t see the club power meter at all, effectively forcing blind shots.
For the rest of us, it’s all about the way the game plays, and how it treats the player.
In these respects – and as previously mentioned, we’ve played every iteration of Tiger Woods PGA Tour – have lost count of the number of rounds that feature at least 6 or 7 putts that look like they’re going great then bizarrely pull a centimetre or so short of the hole, just resting over the lip.
This happened 12 times in our first two rounds in the game. This is either monumentally bad luck that is consistent over 14 years, or there’s something going wrong with the Tiger ball physics calculations.
Most of the rest of the game is good, though, and for the first time in years, it’s occasionally possible to make shots that carry a real ‘delight factor’, having you whoop excitedly as a 50ft putt sinks or a wood shot off the fairway hits the pin and spins into the hole.