Tiger Woods PGA Tour 13 Review

Tiger Woods 13 still presents a decent golf game, but there isn't much new here, and many added features like Kinect support come with problems.

The Tiger Woods series is struggling to find its way. After sticking with the troubled superstar over the past few years of scandal and an extended slump, EA Sports doesn't seem to know what to do with Tiger Woods PGA Tour 13 on the Xbox 360. This could have been a very good golf game, but its identity has been watered down with gimmicky Kinect support, a lame mode where you play as Eldrick Tont Woods from tyke to today, and extortionate downloadable content. Gamepad swing mechanics have been nicely overhauled, and the new Country Club mode promises to help the game establish an online community, but taken together, all the new features don't add up to anything meaningful.

Lil' Tiger may be cute, but the new Tiger Legacy mode needs a lot more than that to be enjoyable.
Lil' Tiger may be cute, but the new Tiger Legacy mode needs a lot more than that to be enjoyable.

There isn't much new in Tiger Woods 13. The look and sound of the game haven't improved much over earlier releases, although there do seem to be more nifty shadow effects on courses and a few more commentary lines from main booth jockey Jim Nantz. The core game is essentially brought forward from last year in its entirety. All the main modes of play are back for another round. You can play one-off matches, set up a golfer and begin a pro career, head online for multiplayer tournaments, head to The Masters again, and so forth.

The most significant addition is Tiger Legacy, where you play as the great one in various stages of his life, from childhood to the present day and beyond. Sadly, Tiger's life was extraordinarily tedious, if this game is to be believed. EA does nothing of interest with this feature. All it does is provide different Tiger player models to look at while you shoot your way through boring challenges like dropping balls into a backyard wading pool, hitting target scores in rounds, helping Tiger break Jack Nicklaus' record for victories in the Majors, and so forth.

A much more notable change comes with the gamepad swing mechanics. Standard button pushing has been tweaked pretty extensively in the new Total Swing Control for the gamepad. It works a fair bit like the left-stick-oriented control scheme from last year, but with more options and more attention paid to things like the tempo of your swing and foot position. In other words, it's a little harder to nail long drives that split the fairway, or make accurate approach shots that land you a couple of feet from the cup, especially when you nudge the difficulty above pro. But you get used to the changes quickly.

Kinect support can make shots like this incredibly satisfying or incredibly frustrating, depending on whether or not the sensor picks up your swing.
Kinect support can make shots like this incredibly satisfying or incredibly frustrating, depending on whether or not the sensor picks up your swing.

While this is a superior system, one that offers you a great deal more control in all aspects of making shots, it isn't so dramatically better that it makes the game a must-buy. That said, it does offer the best putting mechanics in the history of the series. Putting is spectacularly accurate here. The thumbstick perfectly tracks your motions when pulling back and pushing forward, letting you make some jaw-dropping 50-footers, or at least put up some valiant attempts and get close to the cup. Say good-bye to the annoying old days of cursing out your thumbs when a putt inexplicably came up too short or wound up running 20 feet too long because the controls let you down.

Kinect support is offered here for the first time, but it comes with a lot of irritations. Most notably, it really helps to use a stick or a shortened golf club like the ones made for the Wii to help guide your movements. A lot of effort is required to take shots, especially when driving. So if you don't have something to grip to help your balance, it's easy to wind up off-kilter or possibly even pull muscles by practically corkscrewing your body into the living-room carpet. Still, the motion-sensing gizmo can be almost breathtaking at times. When you slam a drive down the fairway it almost feels like you've really just slammed a drive down the fairway. Approach shots, playing out of the rough, escaping the sand, and so forth all require some serious touch as well. Get out of a tough spot, and you feel like doing some authentic Tiger fist pumps.

All of this good stuff is damaged by problems with the Kinect sensor not picking up your movements all the time. It drops out on a regular basis. You swing through a mighty drive, finesse an approach shot, or take a tense 20-foot putt for par…and then wind up doing it all over again, maybe even two or three times all over again, because the Kinect somehow didn't detect your smooth moves. This is annoying and tiresome, because the average round sees you taking a lot more swings than actually get registered in the game. There also is a lot of "all or nothing" with Kinect shots. You either nail your shot just about perfectly or implode so badly that you're firing gopher killers a few inches off the ground or blooping the ball 50 yards into a stream. There aren't enough just-missed moments of the sort that you would expect in a game where you're playing as a wannabe pro. At any rate, stick with the regular controls.

  Is the sun setting on Tiger's glory days?
Is the sun setting on Tiger's glory days?

Other problems also get between you and the greens. While you are treated to a lot of content, with 16 courses in the main game, loads of freebies and easily unlockable equipment, and other extras, EA beats you over the head with pay-to-play DLC. A huge part of the game has been dedicated to yanking more cash out of your wallet for courses, skill boosts, equipment, and so forth. You can earn coins within the game that can be used to purchase these goodies, but this requires a spectacular amount of grinding.

If you really want the extras, most notably the numerous DLC courses that the game constantly teases you with, you pretty much have to pay for them. The same goes for the golf bag pins that provide you with various buffs during rounds. You get the first pack free, and can theoretically earn the rest of them with lots of time on the links, but it's hard to imagine finding the time to do so without quitting your job, leaving school, freeing your dog on the street to fend for himself, and so forth. With all that said, you do get a lot of content in the base game and don't absolutely need to shell out more money. But the lure of buying those instant-improvement pins is always very, very tempting.

Aim for the obnoxious fan in the plaid blazer.
Aim for the obnoxious fan in the plaid blazer.

One good aspect of the DLC comes with the new Country Club option. This feature lets you gather together online and play at specific clubs, just like in the real world where golfers join specific clubs and make them their homes. Coins are earned for rounds played at each club, giving you more opportunity to play those locked-out courses. This also works pretty well as a virtual clubhouse for players online, and even fosters a massively multiplayer online vibe within the game. It's easy to see how this concept could be stretched further to make an actual MMO game.

If you already have Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12: The Masters on the shelf, think long and hard before buying its successor. The questionable additions like Tiger Legacy and the DLC sales pitches don't add anything to the playability on the links themselves, where it really counts. Only the superior gamepad controls and the iffy Kinect support make the new game stand apart from its predecessor, and even these improvements can't be recommended without some caveats. Unless you are dissatisfied with the old swing mechanics on the gamepad, or you desperately want to swing an imaginary golf club in front of your Kinect sensor, you could safely sit this year out.

The Good
Lots of content with career mode, 16 courses, and more
Revamped gamepad controls including extremely accurate putting
Promising Country Club feature
The Bad
Paltry number of new features
Tiger Legacy is a tedious waste of time
Some swing issues with the Kinect
Obnoxious DLC
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Avatar image for IvIuffinIvIan

the only way to improve a golf game is by adding a course editor not a shitty one where you just tweek already made courses like in the older tiger woods but one where you can build from scratch that would be awsome.

Avatar image for Gillygill

The game is awful to play using the move controller. They have taken away any touch and feel you got from last years game, ie judging how hard to hit a putt and chip. It borders on being unplayable. They have also taken away the option of competing against just other move players, so now I am forced to compete with the cheaters who use the normal controller with all sorts of gadgets fitted to ensure a straight perfect shot everytime. How many times have you ever seen a real golfer shoot 22 under par on St Andrews? So bloody annoying, a total waste of £40

Avatar image for tizmond

The DLC courses have been a rip-off for a while now. Especially when you consider most of them were in previous Tiger Woods games. I just rotate between Tiger Woods '09 & '11, so I can play the different courses. Would be nice to play Augusta though. I'll just wait 'til Tiger Woods '12 is in the bargain bin.

Avatar image for djsweete3

you know what's odd people is i like this one the last one was disappointing because of the online servers but i like the swing thing i also like the putting

Avatar image for Four_down_18

Tiger 13' is another great step forward for the series. The game has a strong polish graphically and the presentation is as immersive as ever. The 'Legacy of Tiger Woods' gives younger players the chance to see the unbelievable history of Tiger Woods. Playing as a 2-yr old Baby-Tiger, to re-living his best moments at The Masters. This game is rated way too low by gamespot

Avatar image for trystkl1826

PGA tour 10 works for me. I have found no reason to purchase any of the subsequent games.

Avatar image for nyran125

last tiger woods i enjoyed was 2008.

Avatar image for SadPSPAddict

So good game for those new to the series or skipped the last few but otherwise....?? I have never really got into Tiger Woods games - I did try last years but only put a few hours in!

Avatar image for thatius

@zilcher, did you even read the review? All that stuff was mentioned. Good review Brett. EA really needs to shake things up next year or maybe just take one off and think about what to do next. A few suggestions, make the courses walkable/explorable in some way, have out of bounds shots only occur when a shot goes OB and not just when it goes onto an adjacent fairway, and when playing multiplayer you should watch your opponents shot from an appropriate place (like from the side of a tee box or a few yards behind in the fairway...could be useful for getting reads on puts too or give you an idea what club to hit). Just a few things I've always wanted to see.

Avatar image for KronicEvster107

<< LINK REMOVED >> Good ideas! What if they could had the feature to drive a golf cart... something I have always wanted to do in a game. Walking the course is a good idea too. They should make it to where there is a lot more customizing...Like customize your own golf cart?

Avatar image for zilcher

This guymust have booted up last years game thinking it was this years. There are new swing mechanics, new ball physics, new modes, a new coin system and ways to earn new courses, I give this reviewer a 2.5 (terrible)

Avatar image for Richmaester6907

In all fairness how many ways can you really improve a golf game lol? Apart from good visuals and realistic swinging there isn't much you could do after like 10 years.

Avatar image for Mark07041971

@ FlamingFury: Yeah, total missed opportunity. If Tiger was cool (and had any sense of self-deprecation), not only would it have been in there, it would've been over-the-top. I would've totally jumped back on the Tiger bandwagon if, playing as Tiger, I could earn in-round perks for meeting certain "personal objectives" (# of different girls in one night, # of pornstars at one time, # of paternity suits avoided/silenced, etc., etc...LOL).

Avatar image for badiie05

@FlamingFury i'll buy the game just for that mode hahah Tiger Legacy is genius.

Avatar image for ccagracing

Glad to see EA really pulled up on the yearly cash in, now have the stomach to do it when Fifa 13 releases with only roster updates for a full price £39.99

Avatar image for inline243

Why are people hating so much on earning DLC for free? Doesn't everyone want that for all DLC? If you don't want to pay for it, you can earn it. Sounds Awesome!

Avatar image for Game_Stream

Although its very similar to last year it still has solid gameplay a impressive visuals. Most games in the sport genre just improve on what they can and try new modes, ok.. tiger legacy was a fail but theres only so much you can add to these type of games. If it aint broke, dont fix it.

Avatar image for MrrNiceHk

My God some of these reveiws are bloody ridiculous. Tiger Woods 2013 is a excellent Golf game, for a 1st attempt of a Kinect controll its excellent, the voice controls are almost perfect, I have very little problems getting the game to do what I wanted. If you want a serious game you can use the controller if you want a laugh with your mates you use the kinect, I played both, I liked them both. As for the DLC, sure its a bit of a p take but essentially they are allowing you access to paid DLC for free. It really depends on how you look at it. Sure DLC should be free and if the development companies push there customers too far they will just leave them. But from the prespective of somebody who does not have a reasonably current copy of Tigerwoods, this game has brought be back to the fold and my inital impressions are good.

Avatar image for LokiHero

@dlCHIEF58 I'm not going to lie, I got about five lines into your comment before I just could wade any deeper into that incoherent, meandering mess and just started skimming. Paragraphs, son.

Avatar image for Thesuperstar2k

Kinect sucks

Avatar image for dlCHIEF58

Another lame review of the game, just like the one on IGN. While the Kinect is not perfect in this game, it is nowhere as bad as the reviewer is making it out. He probably needs to calibrate his system as it works pretty well for the most part. The menus seem to be a little too sensitive, but gameplay using Kinect is pretty good (except for when my dog walked in front of me and it thought I swung the club). Also more unneeded whining about DLC courses - does it really bother you so much that they made the option to add more courses to the game more visible to the player? And adding the option of earning the right to unlimited rounds on these courses through dedication is a bad thing? Sure it takes a lot of grinding or skill to get them, do you expect them to give the extras away for minimaL effort on the part of the gamer? The only complaint that can be made is the DLC for a single course is a little more expensive than last years edition ($5 instead of $4), but the majority are also new DLC courses (but were also on last games disc other than TPC National which is all new). There are more courses than last year and an equivalent amount to previous years' offerings. What now, you dock the Rock Band 3 review because they have DLC every week, advertise it in game, and have a separate app to buy the DLC?

Avatar image for KingBobCat

I know this goes against the grain here, but in some ways, I actually preferred the Kinect controls vs. the gamepad. It was occasionally annoying, but not as annoying as getting an awful shot from being a fraction off with swing on the left control knob. And yeah, if you miss on the Kinect, you do feel like you're being screwed into the floor... LOL! Get's me off my butt though.... :) But, of all of the things, I find aiming the putting the most maddening .... All in all, a 7 out of 10 effort. I suggest you try the demo before buying.

Avatar image for thew13

Score doesn't seem to match the review. Most of the negatives are optional. biggest problem seems to be that it is essentially the same game as last years, a common occurrence in yearly sports titles - If last years was an 8, maybe 1/2 point deduction for more of the same and give this a 7.5

Avatar image for dennisgameongr

FAIL !!! on kinect not good at all !!! broken !!! :(

Avatar image for SnuffDaddyNZ

I have a suspicious feeling that these "missed" swings that Kinect isn't picking up, are really deliberately done by the game/sensor in order to gather data to make the next version much better... ;)

Avatar image for IWAOlympus

With as much as people have been complaining about Capcom lately, people need to look at this franchise. For the last three years, this game is nearly unplayable without paying $20-30 for DLC.

Avatar image for vishisluv7

How can anyone support EA is beyond me. Their products are full priced platforms to buy DLC, nothing more than squeezing suckers for every nickle and dime. Boycott anything EA.

Avatar image for DeViLzzz

Despite it being much easier to play a golf game on the Wii it seems the writer here had lots of good things to say about Kinect and this golf game. THA-TODD-BEAST only read what he wanted to read in this article.

Avatar image for Gelugon_baat

@THA-TODD-BEAST Sure is a great opportunity to say what you wanted to say about the Kinect, isn't it? ;)

Avatar image for THA-TODD-BEAST

Kinect fails again. Lol.

Avatar image for FlamingFury

Tiger Legacy mode and not a single mission where you get drunk and cheat on your wife with dozens of women.... Such a missed opportunity.

Tiger Woods PGA Tour 13 More Info

  • First Released Mar 27, 2012
    • PlayStation 3
    • Xbox 360
    Tiger Woods PGA Tour 13 is an authentic golf simulation game from Electronic Arts.
    Average Rating131 Rating(s)
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    Developed by:
    Electronic Arts
    Published by:
    Electronic Arts, EA Sports
    Golf, Sports, Simulation
    Content is generally suitable for all ages. May contain minimal cartoon, fantasy or mild violence and/or infrequent use of mild language.
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