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Tiger Woods PGA TOUR 12: The Masters Preview

A golf game might be the hardest type of sports game to develop, if only because of the audience golf brings to the table. Golf’s barrier to entry has been minimized in recent years, and being an individual-based sport that does not have an age limit means that there are a whole lot of different types of golfers out there -- and thus golf gamers out there. Nevertheless, the Tiger team is tasked with the job of appeasing all of these sects of golf fans while satiating each one’s desire to have a suitable golf game on a yearly basis.

And when it comes to Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12: The Masters, the Playstation Move version might be the development team’s best chance to appease all those fans this year.

The Masters, Kind of a Big Deal

Augusta National is the Madison Square Garden of the PGA; it’s the Super Bowl of the golf world. Every golfer definitely wants to win the FedEx Cup, but if you forced a PGA Tour golfer to choose between being the best golfer of the year or winning the Masters, my guess is -- purse aside -- each one of those golfers would take the green jacket.

EA certainly understands the aura of Augusta National as well. After all, new “laser-scanning” technology that allowed the company to capture every grassy pixel at Augusta National had to materialize before both sides would even agree to this partnership. This type of obsession to detail should not be overlooked. Since almost none of us will ever be able to make it to Augusta National, even as a spectator, this game really is the closest we will get to golf’s greatest spectacle.

You can go on a journey across America and see a game at every MLB stadium, but it’s hard to go on such a journey when it comes to golf. And that’s the real achievement of bringing Augusta National to Tiger 12. A layer of the mystique has been removed, and now you really can analyze and parse through every aspect of the course. The amount of detail, love and care here is legitimate, and the fidelity as you roam the course is top notch.

CBS, though, will still be able to bring us into those Masters moments more than Tiger 12 really can. As I played through some of the most famous holes Augusta National has to offer, it still felt more like a museum tour rather than a thrilling window into what it would feel like to play a round at the Masters. Everything from the history of each hole on the course to the history behind some of the best moments at the Masters is being included in this year’s game, yet the “experience” of the Masters might not quite shine through. The magnitude of the course, and the historical significance of Augusta National is there, but it’s hard to identify if the “soul” of the course is really spinning on the disc.


Some of the Masters Moments you will be able to play through in Tiger 12.


Perhaps it’s just that presentation is a strength of TV more than it really can be for video games. Or perhaps a heaping amount of presentation is not what most of these sects of golf gaming fans are looking for in the game. Regardless, it feels like the one lost opportunity here. Everything from the crowd’s roars to the player’s reactions could use just a little extra something. At the very least, the game does have Jim “I am THE voice of the Masters” Nantz and David Feherty in the booth, both of which add authority to the game’s presentation.

It’s All in the Hips

Motion controls and golf just make sense. And folks who have played the Nintendo Wii version of the game should not be shocked to hear that EA has figured out how to deliver motion controls to the PS3 as well.

Simply put, the Move controls work best when swinging and worst when navigating. On the green, it’s probably a bit more of a chore than it really should be to aim a putt. I felt myself just longing for an analog stick as I had to tilt the controller multiple directions to correctly line up a putt. However, I quickly forgot about those issues when I actually got to just swing the dang club.

The new caddie feature plays into this equation as well. Within the career mode your caddie will “level” much like you do, but as I played through a couple holes during my demo session, I did get the feeling it will be a feature for people who don’t want to really take the time to figure out every green and tee. In addition, it’s a tricky thing to really balance. The caddie can’t be an all-knowing entity like the putt preview, but at the same time which gamers is the caddie serving if he just gives you a general idea of where to aim the putt?

Again, the caddie can’t be a green-reading extraordinaire, but the caddie is not really trying to teach you to read the green or anything either. In other words, newer fans to the franchise are not really being better served on the greens by this anonymous caddie, and long-time veterans are going to ignore the caddie and simply read the green like they have always done.

Still, the caddie is no doubt a necessary addition, and on the tee and in the fairway I think the caddie works better than on the green.


So amazing.


Caddies aside, the thrill of swinging the club in Tiger’s version of first-person mode (known as True View) works quite well here. I am not in love with the post-swing camera, and the one-to-one motion inevitably makes some of the swings look a bit rough, especially the putting strokes, but it’s certainly a tangible gameplay experience that is hard to duplicate in any other sports game.

To explain my dislike of the post-swing first-person camera a bit more, it just does not transition cleanly from the swing to tracking the ball. Perhaps it was just because we were in a crowded demo area, but there was a slight camera hitch between the follow through and the following of the ball.

Everything else felt great. You can push putts, or slice and fade the ball, and it’s true that your real swing is mimicked by the game. I have a bit of a natural fade on my shot in real life, and you could immediately see the same when looking at my swing path in the game. Motion controls can sometimes be a gimmick, but it’s no gimmick here. With the high-def graphics and fantastic Move controls, I will unfortunately have to abandon the Wii, buy a Move controller, and start getting my rounds of virtual golf on the PS3 this year.

Final Thoughts

It’s easy to get excited for Tiger this year purely because of Augusta National. But the Move controls mixed with the PS3 graphics excite me just as much. For the first time this generation, I will get to mash the graphics of the PS3/Xbox 360 together with the amazing controls found in the MotionPlus version of Tiger on the Nintendo Wii.

And those who have experienced it know that Tiger mixed with motion controls is an exciting proposition. When I got really comfortable with the game last year on the Wii, it came to the point where I did not even have to look at the TV screen while I was on the green to gauge the power of my putting stroke. It was all based on feel, and that’s a truly amazing feeling that's hard to quantify in the genre.

So when you mix gameplay potential together with 16 beautiful courses (another 12 are coming via DLC), what sounds like some promising updates to the career mode, and the first inclusion of Augusta National -- yes, I just mentioned it again, it’s that big a deal -- golf fans should be intrigued by this year’s title. While some Tiger pitfalls, like presentational shortcomings and confusion about how best to serve its users on the course, seem to be cropping up once again, the game still looks like it will be a solid experience come March.


Tiger Woods PGA TOUR 12: The Masters Videos
Member Comments
# 1 DocHolliday @ 02/21/11 12:10 PM
From your Preview, it seems like the same old Tiger with a new shiny course. I will pass. Another year of lifeless golf with no soul? Who would have thought that from EA......Jokes.
 
# 2 OnlookerDelay @ 02/21/11 01:53 PM
Chase, do you know if there's a vertical first-person view option in addition to the horizontal one? I know the Wii version of Tiger Woods 11 the vertical True View option, which I strongly prefer to horizontal.

Also, I take it there's no "cut to the finish" option for First Person view? I liked the way the Wii version of Tiger Woods 11's True View cuts to the finish.
 
# 3 ChaseB @ 02/21/11 02:02 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by OnlookerDelay
Chase, do you know if there's a vertical first-person view option in addition to the horizontal one? I know the Wii version of Tiger Woods 11 the vertical True View option, which I strongly prefer to horizontal.

Also, I take it there's no "cut to the finish" option for First Person view? I liked the way the Wii version of Tiger Woods 11's True View cuts to the finish.
I know cut to finish is in the game, but yeah not sure about within True View.

Can you explain the difference between the vertical and horizontal option? I think I know what you're talking about but just a brief explanation would help. (Regardless, I can't answer the question since I don't know, so it's more for my own knowledge).
 
# 4 orthostud23 @ 02/21/11 02:15 PM
Good read. Not really any new info but still a good read.

I have been on the fence about getting this and not getting this game and I think I will go with my gut and again not purchase this title.
 
# 5 OnlookerDelay @ 02/21/11 03:16 PM
Chase, in a nutshell, it's like this.... with horizontal (default) True View/First Person, the club swings from right to left on the screen, with vertical, the club swings from bottom to top of the screen. Vertical makes more sense to me because the ball goes in the same direction in which both my own stance is aligned as well as my on screen golfer's stance.

With horizontal First Person/True View, I feel like I'm hitting the ball at a 90 degree angle from the swingpath of the club.... hope this makes sense?
 
# 6 fsufan4423 @ 02/21/11 03:56 PM
I'm remember being so excited to play this title once the 360/PS3 came out with all the possibilities and advancements the game could have, and it's been nothing but agony year after year.

As much as I love golf, can't see buying this game until major improvements are made.
 
# 7 jestep123 @ 02/21/11 04:23 PM
This game is going to be really good. I actually think 11 was good with the Move. I think it was very underated (probably because its an EA game).

I have Cerebral Palsey so I have never and will never play on an actual course in my life. I have gotten every EA golf game since 97 when it was still just called PGA TOUR. Being able to use the motion controllers a \nd play a round of golf with my brothers (neither of whom are disabled) is an awesome feeling that I never thought I would be able to experience.

Just one man's opinion, but if you like the sport of golf, you are going to be doing yourself a disservice if you dont pick this one up at some point.
 
# 8 ChaseB @ 02/21/11 04:50 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by fsufan4423
I'm remember being so excited to play this title once the 360/PS3 came out with all the possibilities and advancements the game could have, and it's been nothing but agony year after year.

As much as I love golf, can't see buying this game until major improvements are made.
I think from a gameplay perspective it's hard to argue with most of what is brought to the table in a Tiger game on Wii or PS3. In terms of customizing your experience, it really goes further than any sports game out there. But if you are in agony about some of the surrounding elements of the game, I hear you 100 percent.
 
# 9 ChaseB @ 02/21/11 04:58 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by OnlookerDelay
Chase, in a nutshell, it's like this.... with horizontal (default) True View/First Person, the club swings from right to left on the screen, with vertical, the club swings from bottom to top of the screen. Vertical makes more sense to me because the ball goes in the same direction in which both my own stance is aligned as well as my on screen golfer's stance.

With horizontal First Person/True View, I feel like I'm hitting the ball at a 90 degree angle from the swingpath of the club.... hope this makes sense?
I think I got it originally, but perhaps I just never really noticed my club going from right to left. I always felt like in first person my follow ended vertically. Although on the green I guess that's more right to left rather than down up?
 
# 10 Dazraz @ 02/22/11 02:08 AM
Presentation is where this game lacks. Golf is about drama, tension, & atmosphere. These areas are absent in the PGA series.
As beautiful as PGA 12 looks & as wonderful as it plays EA need to work heavily on presentation if they are to take this game to another level. It's not just about including events such as The Masters it's about bringing those events to life in the game.
 
# 11 Zinger @ 02/22/11 03:20 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dazraz
Presentation is where this game lacks. Golf is about drama, tension, & atmosphere. These areas are absent in the PGA series.
Agree about that. The news about no playoffs in the event of a tie has all but killed my interest this year. Can you imagine - new Road to the Masters mode, we work our way through Q school, nationwide tour etc, finally qualify for the Masters where we have a ding-dong battle with Tiger which ends with the two of us all square after 72 holes, our hearts are pumping... and then a bland computer message pops up 'you win'. Talk about anti-climax! The decisions taken by this bunch of devs never cease to amaze me. I have no doubt that Augusta will look great and be true to life, but that's the only bit of realism I would expect to see in this game.
 
# 12 ThatRadioGuy @ 02/22/11 04:46 AM
..

Chase ..

You're the best writer on Operation Sports .. by far. It's not even close.

Keep up the good work.

DD
GA Sports Network General Manager 1999-2001
On the Green Editor-in-Chief

..
 
# 13 OnlookerDelay @ 02/22/11 09:33 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by ChaseB
I think I got it originally, but perhaps I just never really noticed my club going from right to left. I always felt like in first person my follow ended vertically. Although on the green I guess that's more right to left rather than down up?
I don't know how much of the menu navigation you got to do in your hands-on, but there should have been an options menu at some point where "vertical" and "horizontal" 'First Person' view could be selected (provided there is an option for vertical... we already know it has "horizontal" based on the video shown at GamerAccess.com).

BTW, in the GamerAccess.com video interview with Mike DeVault, Mike is demonstrating the Move swing with first person view, and he is actually set up to show the condition I'm trying to avoid. Notice that he is swinging the Move toward the screen (his left hip is facing the screen as if he's hitting an imaginary ball at it), yet the clubhead movement on the screen is 90 degrees out of phase with his physical movement. This was very disorienting to me the time I played my friend's Wii version of TW 11. I showed him how to go in and change it to "vertical", so that now, the virtual golfer's feet are aligned bottom to top on the screen, making them and thereby your swingpaths match direction.

I really hope EA Sports didn't miss putting this option in the PS3 version. It made a huge difference in the quality of immersion I personally sensed in the Wii version.
 
# 14 OnlookerDelay @ 02/22/11 11:42 AM
Chase, I had another question to ask... did you get a chance to play a pitch and/or a chip shot in your time with the game? I'd like to know if the Move swing motion required to execute them was proportional to the shot result. IOW, I hope you didn't have to take a full swing to execute a 10 yard chip shot.
 
# 15 ChaseB @ 02/22/11 04:21 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by OnlookerDelay
Chase, I had another question to ask... did you get a chance to play a pitch and/or a chip shot in your time with the game? I'd like to know if the Move swing motion required to execute them was proportional to the shot result. IOW, I hope you didn't have to take a full swing to execute a 10 yard chip shot.
I know you can lock in the swing power during the pre-swing setup if you choose. But I only played so many holes, and I was sticking the greens on approach shots because the difficulty level wasn't very high.

My way to answer that is if the 1-to-1 swing was proportional in the Wii MotionPlus version, it should be that way here.
 
# 16 OnlookerDelay @ 02/22/11 05:34 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by ChaseB
I know you can lock in the swing power during the pre-swing setup if you choose.
Seriously? You can lock your swing power in the pre-swing setup?? That's reason for concern IMO, particularly if you can do that in the game's highest difficulty. With a motion controller in hand, I shouldn't have an option to lock the swing power to a given value, and then giving it a full rip with the Move. I would hope that at least in Tournament difficulty, my shot power would be soley determined by how hard/fast I swung the club!?
 
# 17 OnlookerDelay @ 02/22/11 06:50 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Seymour Scagnetti
Just don't choose to lock in your swing power. If the option is there it doesn't mean you have to use it.
If indeed this ability to lock your power is available in all difficulty levels, that's the way I'll play it. I just don't want to see the Tournament difficulty Live Tournaments and head-to-head multiplayer matches be compromised by an aid or tool that has no business being in the game's most simulation mode.

Again, I may be getting my panties in a wad over nothing. Chase has already admitted he was playing in one of the easier difficulty levels. I'm betting it was Amateur, since that's what the game has always defaulted to.
 
# 18 Raskal @ 02/24/11 05:51 PM
Nice preview. Is the actual Masters Grand Slam event going to be playable in career mode? Or is it just the golf course?
 
# 19 DivotMaker @ 02/24/11 06:59 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Raskal
Nice preview. Is the actual Masters Grand Slam event going to be playable in career mode? Or is it just the golf course?
The Masters Tournament is in the game....
 
# 20 rolltide1017 @ 03/04/11 11:47 AM
Is Augusta the only course that got the new laser scanning treatment? If so, does anyone know if EA has plans to update then other courses using the same technology in the future?
 

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