The jury may still be out on Tiger Woods the man, but EA Sports’ reputation for golf games has never been in question. It’s no surprise, then, that Tiger Woods PGA Tour 14 is another in a long line of great golf games produced by that company.
One of the complaints levelled at EA’s sporting franchises is that too often their annual releases improve too little on their predecessors, but it’s clear here the company has done much to avoid that scenario.
Career mode is deeper than ever before. This time around players must perform well for longer at the amateur level before they may cross iron with the pros, and some gameplay changes make consistency a tougher proposition. The first significant change is the addition of a new swing style mechanic that allows the player to manipulate how their golfer hits the ball.
There are 24 different swing styles to choose from, from a power player with a fade to a control player with a draw – and everything in between. Putting has also been tweaked, so there is now a larger emphasis on using power when hitting the green. The combined effect of these alterations is a high difficulty, and frankly, this was much needed. Previous Tiger Woods titles allowed players to master courses easily and progress too quickly. As a result, things such as a FedEx Trophy win didn’t feel earned, but here even escaping amateur tours such as Q-school, web.com and the PGA carry weight.
New mode ‘Legends of the Majors’ – which allows players to relive some of the greatest moments in golf – also stands out. It covers six different eras, each of which feature equipment and an aesthetic appropriate for that period, and famous golfers from Bobby Jones all the way through to Rory McIlroy. The only downside for those not interested in history will be working their way through each epoch to get to Tiger’s greatest performances, of which there are many. However, most will relish the opportunity to play as Arnold Palmer or Jack Nicklaus.
Another first for the Tiger Woods franchise is the ability to create a female golfer and participate in the LPGA – a long overdue but nonetheless welcome inclusion. Tiger Woods 14 also touts the ability to play “anytime, any course, any condition”, and it means it. Teeing off first thing in the morning in the rising sun is bested only by a night round at Augusta using illuminated balls – something all virtual golfers should experience.
Additions have also been made to the online Country Club: the number of golfers in each club house has been bumped up to 100, and live tournaments cater to up to 25 members. This means golfers are able to see up to 24 other shot arcs while playing a hole, which while informative will quickly deflate a few egos.
Despite all the changes, not everything that needed an overhaul received one. The audio in particular needs work: commentary is often bland, with no real conversation between commentators Jim Nantz and David Feherty. As was the case with previous PGA Tour games, the music is also weak, doing little to add anything to the overall experience.
Those are the most apparent among the few complaints that can be levelled at Tiger Woods 14. The new swing mechanics, tournaments, online features, and Legends mode place PGA Tour 14 above its predecessors, and make it a must for golfing fans.