Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12: The Masters

PS3 (also 360, Wii)

It’s interesting to see in this day and age a company as big as EA still happy to ‘support’ a sporting personality. Tiger Woods’ problems with holes has been well publicised: finding too many of them off the green and not enough of them on.

On news of his adulterous behaviour, many of his big sponsors, including Gilette, felt they couldn’t stand behind a man who was standing, lying, etc behind oh-so many women. EA however, pulled a Tammy Wynette and stood by their man, resulting in this the most recent title in their long running franchise. No moral ambiguity from them then.

Considering that the basic premise of the game of golf is hitting a ball with a club, the video game mechanics of it have changed quite remarkably over the years. Long gone are the day where a meter appeared on the screen that represented your power bar; it was all about the timing back then, but it was curiously satisfying.

It wasn’t broke, but it has been ‘fixed’ regardless, with a new swinging mechanic employed. Now it’s all to do with rocking your left analogue stick back and forth. This would appear to be the most logical next step to take it, but on a practical level, there’s not much in the way of accuracy. If you were the king of the game Operation, then you’ll probably do OK here, as you need a very steady hand. If you’re the slightly bit twitchy however, you could be a little bit buggered. It may feel a more natural way to play, but it doesn’t feel any more accurate.

That changes however when the Move controller is used. As you would expect, you hold the controller as you would a golf club; to take a shot you swing back and...well, you get the idea. Obviously there’s a great sense of fluidity taking shots this method. One gripe however is that at times you need the Move controller, the sub navigator AND the normal controller all registered with the PS3 to play. If you’re playing with the Move controller then it really ought to be the only controller you need assigned to play.

boom reviews - Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12: The Masters image
Despite not shaving for months, my face is still as smooth as a hooker's silicon-enhanced breast.

The real problem however playing with either method is that there’s no tutorial. Whatsoever. Sure you have a caddie who shadows you on the course, giving you advice for every shot to play, but there’s no actual description of how to use the control method you choose. You can read the manual, which is within the game, but it’s not very clear. Players are left to simply go out on a course and swing away. After putting in a few hours of play we were still none the wiser on how to really get to grips with the control method. And let’s not even go down the ‘how to fade and draw’ road. If this is all assumed knowledge then EA are making an ass out of all concerned.

On the plus side, there are a nice selection of greens to play on, with 16 championship courses included, and obviously including Augusta.

There’s also a nice mode in ‘The Road to Augusta’, that takes you from the amateur circuit, via training opportunities and sponsor tasks, all the way up to the Masters. You can also use your likeness to create a golfer; however, not only is the process quite long using the PS Eye (it can take up to 20 minutes to process a front and side portrait), but the result may not even look anything like you. The one we uploaded looked like they were suffering from a terminal disease and didn’t look fit enough to get out of bed, never mind play a round of golf.

But even with all these nice touches that go along to extending the life of the game (including online multiplayer), it still felt that the control methods had been tweaked a little bit too far. It’s not so bad driving down the fairways, but it’s at the green when it came to putting that it felt quite wrong. Using either the Move controller or the regular one, it’s really difficult to get a sense of weight, distance and direction on the green, all of which are fairly important in a golf game. Trying to work out the lay of the ground was really difficult too, with flat looking areas suddenly having unrecognisable slopes.

Whatever fun you could have with this title soon turns to frustration. If you play real golf, or have been a fan of the series since way back, then the game probably has a lot to offer. But as far as pick up and play gamers are concerned, you could soon find yourself over par, over there, over and over again. It may well sort out the Woods from the McIIroy’s, but it does put the damper on having a fun round or two.

three out of five