Many years ago there was a freak weather incident in the UK... the tail end of a hurricane was reportedly on its way and possibly the most recognisable weather presenter on TV famously announced it wouldn't hit the UK... he was very, very wrong indeed.
A friend of mine and I had arranged to play Golf on the Sunday morning and it was still somewhat blustery.
I'd only been playing properly a year or so, enough time to at least have an idea what I was doing, to learn all the theory but not to execute much of what the theory taught.
I was self-taught, upon seeing someone grip a club lower on the rubber to gain more control over the shop I figured doing something similar when attempting to hit my bigger clubs would work for me... and thus I'd drive off using the big woods but gripping them further down the shaft to stop my hideous slice... it worked but it hurt my wrists after a while so I had to try something else.
Anyway, I've waffled, we're on the course and the wind is causing havoc with the ball flight, something that would start on line would be blown miles off course and we weren't scoring well... to be fair nobody else was either... with the wind as it was this was a day where if you were playing then you could be considered to be "Hardcore" and scores stopped mattering.
We approached the 5th hole, a par 3 with a monster right to left gale blowing, no trees around so it was completely exposed... and my inner-genius figured if I aimed at the people 40 yards to the right on the next hole the wind would blow it back on line... and thus I took aim for a man in a blue jumper and nailed it... the wind grabs hold and swung it back towards the green where it finished within 6 feet from the hole... that was the moment I really got hung up on Golf... it was to be my sport.
Over the years I upgraded my clubs, played more often, bought a more advanced Driver with a graphite shaft so I could hit the ball longer off the tee without breaking my wrists and began to improve to the point where I could get round my local course in less than 80 shots... as a weekend hacker I was pretty proficient,
I still enjoy the game despite having barely played because of other sporting commitments (come back in the summer when I next hit a sports title) and I've been playing Tiger Woods titles since I imported a copy of Tiger Woods 98 on the PlayStation because it had a hidden episode of South Park on the disk... and of course I played way too many versions of Tiger Woods last year for easy Achievements... now we have the 2014 version.
I couldn't get the "Historic Edition" as this is/was an exclusive to my least favourite retailer "Game" so I'm left with the standard edition... which, oddly, came with a code for a bonus player... that well known golfing legend... Andy Roddick.
Thinsg can only get better after a "bonus" like that surely?
[color=yellow]April 1st:[/color] Lets clear up two things straight away: 1) I like the old styIe presentation when playing a character from the 1920's and 1930's which extends into the EA Sports replays... very nice, 2) I hate the way that the game is presented 100% of the time in a letterbox format on my screen, if there is a way of making it full screen I haven't found it.
Now, while the presentation is all nice and pretty I have turned off the animations after I sank a putt playing as an 1890's golfer and he did the Tiger fist pump... too much EA, way too much... animations off thanks very much.
It's the usual fair, with the usual additional bells and whistles.
The Challenge mode is called "Legends of the Majors" with 62 key events from all four major tournaments providing the challenges... only sometimes you have to do better than the actual event (the last one I tried being the recreation of Jack Nicklaus driving through the green at St. Andrews and making Birdie, to get the golden "Legend" award I had to make Eagle) and there are clearly some missing.
One of my great memories of The Masters was seeing Greg Norman choke against Nick Faldo where he started the final round 7 shots clear and finished 5 shots down... not there, or how about the time where Greg Norman lost a play-off to Larry Mize when Mize chipped in from way off the green... not there either.
How come one of the greats of the game, Tom Watson, isn't present at all?
There's plenty to do but the nature of the game makes it very repetitive, they've included female golfers as well but this is merely lip service, the career mode doesn't change, there are no female only challenges... still a male dominated game... and how come I couldn't make my female golfer so top heavy that the laws of gravity would have her falling flat on her face every time she tried to stand up?
I've already harvested a few hundred points and the game has taken me past the 80,000 Gamerscore mark... I figure I should be able to collect a good 900+ out of this one, but will probably give myself an RSI in the process.
The "Historic" element works well, with the Augusta National taking on a totally different look... and that's before you consider the two sets of 9 holes were played the other way around in 1934, playing the courses with old gear is a little frustrating when you find yourself limited to older clubs with shorter ranges after you've spent so long levelling your player up to be able to hit the ball further and further with more control.
[color=yellow]April 2nd:[/color] As I diligently work towards collecting an Achievement for loyalty I also want to collect the Achievement for playing in a Country Club tournament and here there is confusion.
The Club setting is "Pro" so I set my gameplay settings to match, when I go to the Country Club Tournaments section I'm informed there are 7 tournaments available, only I can't play in any... my status within the Club is "Amateur" which looks to be based on status points, so I work towards gaining these and still no joy... I even ask a total stranger on TrueAchievements if there is something obvious I'm missing.
And there is... the small matter that my Club hasn't got any tournaments set up to play in, so next morning I wake earlier than normal to collect my Loyalty Achievement and then go hunting down a new club to join briefly to enter a tournament.
I find one, I can play in it... all is well... and then I discover that this is to be played on a course I haven't got because you have to download it... start again, find one I have got and the Achievement clicks before I even play a shot.
Back to my old Country Club as I was pretty loathe the leave, after all I am one of the Club Leaders performance wise and it's the only club with my home City in the title.
Now... a grumble... DLC courses from day one.
Each of the last few years versions have come with 15-20 courses and another 15-20 available as DLC from the start, this was explained as being purely a licencing issue, the cost of the licences to use the courses being such that to include them all from day one would push the cost of the game up so each year they flip the courses on the DLC... if it was free one year, it'll be DLC next year and so on... obviously some courses will be there all the time like Pebble Beach and St. Andrews but others will flip.
I can handle this, I can understand this... what I don't get is why the "Fantasy" Courses, designed and created by EA themselves are DLC... these didn't cost anything to licence, they don't change from one year to the next... these cost EA nothing... so to charge for them is a bit of a rip off for me.
Now this is one of the reasons that I flat out refuse to buy these additional courses... another reason is that they are generally stupidly hard to play... now this is fine for the Elite player who seem obsessed with the game and want a challenge but they just infuriate me... I don't want a course where the green has bigger humps on it than a camel, or is fast as putting on glass, or has a fairway the width of a piece of paper.
There are 4 of these, Predator set in the Jungle, Highlands set in the upper reaches of Scotland and features some holes on floating islands (and I'm done with Bioshock Infinite for now, last thing I want to see is more floating islands), Greek Isles set on the islands of Greece (no kidding) with ancient ruins and Emerald Dragon which is the only one I would consider as it actually looks like it could exist.
Second Grumble... there is an Achievement for hitting a hole in one... with a "Control Golfer" which isnt explained anywhere, so when my created player with stats all in the 40-50 point range (so nowhere near the supermen you end up with) aced a par three I was expecting the "plink plonk" noise to signal points and nothing... seems a user created player is not a "Control Golfer" so it counted for nothing. (EDIT: I've since discovered why it didn't pop... it will be explained later.)
I'm also working towards completing all the Challenges with Legend status, which means I have ended up replaying some a dozen or so times to fulfil the necessary criteria... and these can take time, the current one for scoring birdie on 4 holes with Lee Trevino centres mainly on the 2nd hole of the 4 as the hole is placed in a dodgy position... but you can birdie the first 3 and miss the putt on the 4th and you have to restart... I'm not even halfway through yet.
And I know this will continue... there will be others just as hard further on, and if I want to collect the Achievement for Legend on all Challenges they'll have to be done at some point so why not as I'm doing them in order?
I have worked through a few other Achievements, sinking a birdie putt on a specific hole at a specific time, collecting my Tour card and finding the werewolf (play a round at night with a specific character and you'll see he's transformed into a Werewolf) and so on... in theory I ought to be able to score the full 1,000 Gamerscore but that is going to take weeks look out for some general/no-specific/rambling blogs if this turns out to be the case... although I may have to jump straight into the South Park RPG when that arrives.
[color=yellow]Getting Brave:[/color] Now I used to play online a little with the original Xbox but stopped after a few weeks, the infantile, racist, profanity strewn chat from 12 year old Americans was just too much... I knew I was rubbish, I didn't need someone who's testicles have still to drop to tell me this.
Now a month ago I bought myself a month on Live to capitalise on some online features of Borderlands 2 and a few Arcade games, nothing major really but late Sunday evening (end of March time) I found myself playing an online round of Tiger Woods... and it was a revelation.
No abuse, just a few polite and pleasant messages (I have headphones but have no idea how they work or whether they were even on) and it was good fun, so... when the other half asks what I want for my birthday I asked for a Live Subscription.
I'm going to give it a go for a year... whilst being uber careful of what I play... I doubt very much that the level of conversation will be as high in Call of Duty for example, but as I don't play that I shouldn't have much trouble... but I have splurged on a decent set of headphones compared to the crappy official set that came with the console, and at the very least they'll have instructions that let me know if they are turned on or not.
[color=yellow]April 3rd:[/color] I've called time on the "Legend" awards for all the Challenges after I was asked to sink two long shots from rough in high winds... too much to go for and there are going to be more on the way to the end.
I have worked out what is meant by "Control Golfer" in that it refers to the playing styIe of the player, a John Daly or Tiger Woods are described as "Power" golfers because of their distance, whereas a Luke Donald type player who relies on finesse more than brute force is a "Control" golfer... as my created character is "Power" orientated the hole in one counted for nothing.
In theory if I convert my player to a more "Control" based set up for the career mode then the next one will count and the Achievement will pop, but right now I'm still working on his stats so it's something that I'll have to look at in a practice round before I take it out onto the course proper.
I've ventured online again and got my behind handed to me on a plate... I may have finished the round at -15 but I lost by 11 strokes... think the other guy may have been better than me.
[color=yellow]April 5th:[/color] I've been using the website TrueAchievements.com for a couple of years, it helps out with solutions and fixes for troublesome Achievements, can provide guides and walkthroughs for bigger titles to help people collect Achievements... and it helps set up Booster Sessions.
These are where a group of players will arrange a time and date to work specifically on one Achievement, maybe winning X games online, or killing X number of players in a certain way and they'll help each other out... and here we have an Achievement for 4 players in an online game using Legendary golfers.
People aren't playing online as Legendary golfers... too self-centred and ranking obsessed, so I joined a Booster Session, my first ever and at the appointed time I logged on an was joined by 3 other gamers and together we played a round with unlocked Legends... my first online Achievement for playing with others.
It felt really satisfying, we didn't need to play the round as the Achievement kicks in as soon as you load up the first hole, but we all stayed and played 18 holes... I even prepared for this by buying a more "up market" headset... strange feeling chatting with an American while sat at home waiting for a fitter to come and lay our new bedroom floor.
I'm still working through the game, as mentioned some Achievements will take a bit of a grind so I'm looking at another weeks play, I won't collect the Achievement for getting "Legend" in all the Challenges as some are just scary hard, too many shots require you to sink the ball from 150+ yards in high wind so there's 20 points I won't get, and I doubt I'll collect a full pin set before I'm done which would be another 30 points... but 950 I can settle for.