Pros: Beautifully designed, helpful caddie, many cool extras.
Cons: Reminds me that I don’t know how to golf.
As a celebrity, Tiger Woods has become a bit tarnished in the last year and a half, but as a brand name, Tiger Woods still represents the pinnacle of golf video games, a reputation only enhanced by the latest title in the long-running golfing series, Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12: The Masters.
What's New: Balance Checking, Caddie Advice
As with most yearly sports series, the franchise changes incrementally, and the basic design will be familiar to those who have played last year’s Tiger Woods PGA Tour 11. As before, you hold the Wii remote down as though it were a golf club and swing at your virtual ball. If you’re using a MotionPlus remote the game has beautiful fidelity; you can see exactly how your club hits the ball either through a little window for that purpose or in a first person view in which you look straight down at the ball as you swing.
This time around, Masters is getting the Wii Balance Board into the act. If you stand on the board, the game will gauge your balance to determine how your ball would fly.
This version also introduces a virtual caddie who will advise you on the best shot. Sometimes he will give you a choice between safe and more aggressive shots, sometimes he will just tell you there’s only one decent option. You can ignore him if you like, but I quite liked my caddie.
Career Mode: Mastering the Masters
The focus is on The Masters Tournament, a major golf championship that takes place every year at the Augusta National Golf Club. Or so I’ve read. Frankly, I have never played golf nor have I ever watched more than a few minutes of it on television. As with most sports, I engage in golf strictly through video games.
Golf enthusiasts will be spending a lot of time on the Augusta course. Career mode is devoted to reaching the point where you are invited to play in The Masters. In Tiger at the Masters your goal is to recreate Tiger Wood’s four Master’s wins. In Masters Moments you are asked to match famous golfing feats such as Jack Nicklaus’ eagle-birdie-birdie on holes 15 to 17.
As I’ve mentioned, I don’t know how to golf, and that puts me at a disadvantage in Masters. I think my golfing stance must be completely wrong, because if I try to swing holding the remote with both hands it really hurts my right hand. Instead, I do a one-handed swing which I’m pretty sure wouldn’t work with a real golf club. Fortunately the game is more forgiving than the real world.
Extras: Mini-Golf, Disk Golf and Tons More
I fared better in the game’s miniature golf and disk golf sections. I’ve always liked miniature golf, and Masters offers five 9-hole courses, each quite distinct, ranging from a simple setup on a boardwalk to a fancy jungle-themed course that is my favorite. In disk golf you have a huge number of golf courses you can play on, and the game does as nice a job tracking your throwing technique as it does your golfing technique.
There are also a wealth of other game modes, including various challenges, party games, arcade games and the like. Most of these game modes can be played in multiplayer. There’s also an online mode, but considering my laughable golfing skills, I didn’t bother with it.
Verdict: Best of the Series
Even though the core gameplay is the same as in previous years, the many nice tweaks and the wealth of content makes this the best of the series to date. Tiger Woods may no longer be at the top of the golf world, and this year he’s not even getting any attention for errant behavior, but as a brand Tiger Woods still cannot be bested.