A Few Thoughts on Tiger Woods 12

We spend a few hours with EA's latest golf sim to see how some of the new additions turned out.

With the latest installment in the Tiger Woods PGA Tour series due out for release at the end of the month, I've been spending some time with a complete, pressed-for-retail version of the game to see how it has all come together. We'll reserve final judgment for the review, which the team will have coming your way in a few weeks. But in the meantime, here are a few thoughts and impressions based on the first few hours of Tiger 12's career mode.

1. The Masters is everywhere

If you weren't aware that the Masters is in Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12, you'll be reminded of it the moment the game loads up. The entire interface has been reworked to focus on this year's big new feature. Menus sit atop images of Augusta National cycling in the background, while the entire interface is done up in soothing shades of green and gold to match the color scheme of golf's biggest event. It's an odd change if you're like me and you've spent a not-insignificant portion of your life growing more and more accustomed to the loud, snazzy menus that EA Sports games tend to offer. But it's a welcome change--a subtle and understated interface that works well with one of the more laid-back professional sports.

Another nice feature of the menus is the way the screen is split down the middle with advanced options on the left and one-button navigation on the right. The left side is where you can dig through all the menus in search of the standard customization options, career statistics, and options screens. But on the right side of the screen is a window that offers a suggested next step at every turn, letting you get started with the next major event with a single button press or taking you straight to the new gear you've unlocked when you've ranked up with a sponsor. For those intimidated by the often esoteric menus in sports games, it's a nice little touch.

2. The caddie system is a great addition, but it still needs some work

New this year is a caddie system to offer you advice and options on the next shot. For everyone who's not a diehard golfer, it's a great way of removing some of the biggest obstacles in golf. You don't need to know which club will work best in a given situation or whether a certain shot is risky or just plain stupid. You simply choose from a pair of suggested shots and focus on hitting the ball.

For the most part, the caddie AI works very well. I've been able to easily coast through entire events without the slightest bit of worry over which club to use or how to approach the green. But there have been a handful of times when the caddie has been completely out to lunch with his suggestions. At times I've hit his suggested shot with the correct angle and the right amount of power, but the ball has still found its way into the water or a sand trap. It's rarer for the caddie to goof up on the green, but it has happened, like the one time he suggested a putting target about 10 yards to the right of the hole even though I was standing a few short feet from the hole, with hardly any angle on the green.

After these goof-ups, the trust level I place in my caddie has been somewhat strained. Now I have to take what he suggests with a grain of salt when there are potential hazards nearby and try to exercise extra common sense when a suggested putting target seems a little off. It's tempting to fall into the habit of accepting your caddie's suggested shot every single time, but if you do this without a healthy sense of skepticism, then chances are you'll get burned at least once every couple of events. I still really enjoy the caddie system, but it's clear that EA isn't quite done fine-tuning it. In fairness, you can level up your caddie's familiarity with certain courses, but some of the gaffes we experienced were simply too glaring to suggest anything other than an AI shortcoming.

3. The career mode makes you work for it, but not too hard

The game's career mode has been rebranded as Road to the Masters and has you starting off in amateur tournaments before getting even a whiff of your PGA Tour card. There's a nice sense of progression to the way all of this plays out, letting you feel like you're actually building up to something before you finally go professional. But in a nice little touch, EA has made it so that standout players don't need to grind through the amateur levels if they've already got the skills. For example, I was able to quickly graduate from semi-professional Nationwide Tour by winning two events, saving me a bunch of time over the other graduation criteria, such as coming in the top 10 over a much longer stretch of events. Combine that with gear sponsorships that you can level up over time, and you've got a career mode that does the carrot-on-a-stick system really well.

4. The create-a-player feature is terrific

I mean, just look at this guy:

Amazing. Stay tuned for the full review later this month, including impressions of what it's like once you finally do reach the Masters.

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Discussion

35 comments
usermikey
usermikey

Looks great! This one looks like one to buy. I forgot that sports game buyers skip a year sometimes lol.

razzledazzle666
razzledazzle666

i guess the caddie isn't supposed to know every shot.. he's not a pro golfer so he is just giving his opinion for the shots..t's up to the golfer to pick the shot, you don't have to take the caddies advice. that's realistic!

SeargantGoat
SeargantGoat

HAHAH that face is great. Ringo Starr with Miguel Angel Jimenez's dirty hair

SadPSPAddict
SadPSPAddict

was going to skip this year's one but now......

sleepnsurf
sleepnsurf

@gamerdad7 Totally agree! I would never buy this game on the 360 as my wii feels just perfect for it. Still play Woods 2010 till this day. I skipped 2011 hearing that it was not an upgrade but a downgrade from '10 so I am biting on this one!

Zathic
Zathic

It seems like they're making the Masters part the focus so they can get rid of Tiger Woods' name.

gamerdad7
gamerdad7

After playing the demo on the xbox I really miss the wii motion controls. Golf games just aren't as enjoyable (to me) without the added realism of motion controls. Maybe next year will give me a reason to try kinect but for my golf fix I'm going back to the wii. I think the addition of the Masters is masterful.

DJ_Magneto
DJ_Magneto

I thought that was Kenny Powers for a second.

ArroyoChi101
ArroyoChi101

@desause Top spin 4 is better than this with the move

desauce
desauce

Tiger Woods is the best Move game out there so far. Killzone 3 is awesome with it too but the Move was made for golf games.

pH347m3
pH347m3

@rustytush Possibly both.

franzito
franzito

I like golf games, they are very relaxing...

rustytush
rustytush

@pH347m3.....@Paulofcj lol i'd like know if Shaun McInnis did it on purpose or he just wanted to create a guy who would NEVER have a chance to marry a Bond girl

IRISHBLUEDEVIL
IRISHBLUEDEVIL

I thought the demo was pretty good. The controls are a little different than past Tiger games but with a little getting used to it should be fine. Seems a little less forgiving in the current title, but thats a good thing. We will see when the final version is released. Cant wait to make my player, the one above is classic. Thats part of the fun, making your character as realistic or as over the top as your imagination can take you. One of the great features

Paulofcj
Paulofcj

Ringo Starr look-a-like.

bryanc10
bryanc10

I know six years is a long time in the gaming-verse but I use to kill it in TW 06, so it only makes sense TW12 would be on my pre-order list. Straight down the fairway and nothing but green....oh damn that's a tree...

KLINGON
KLINGON

Whats everybodies opinion about using the playstation move??

Gambitcrawfish
Gambitcrawfish

Haha, that created player is amazing. I love the US flag shirt and mullet. A+

TheLast1Left
TheLast1Left

My friends and I used to play TW 2005 on the GameCube all the time. It had the caddie tips on the green and was great. After that year they did away with the caddie and I have not enjoyed the game since. I am happy to see it is back and can’t wait to try this one out.

SidMarshall
SidMarshall

Will there be a PC version this time?

DesertLynx83
DesertLynx83

@MichaelChainsaw That might make it sell better! :P

le_mulot
le_mulot

"Oh it's still a golf game. I was hoping you could run around practicing infidelity." Yeah, really. This is the spirit. Keep going. That's such a great comment. Congratulation. You're the best. Got enough?

thedemon44
thedemon44

Sounds like the golf I have been holding off for. I think I'll grab it and the Move at the same time. Can't wait for some happy golfing.

jazilla
jazilla

Now all they need to do is get the PGA Championship, The US Open and The Open Championship and this game will be amazing. I am not holding my breath though.

Razorbak1986
Razorbak1986

DanielL5583, show me another golf video game currently available that includes The Masters venue.

DanielL5583
DanielL5583

...It's golf. Why do we need the same golf game coming out every year?

MichaelChainsaw
MichaelChainsaw

Oh it's still a golf game. I was hoping you could run around practicing infidelity.

packers91
packers91

looks like my friend's uncle Joe