Tiger Woods PGA Tour 14 is a simple game. It knows what it is and doesn’t really do anything new to change that. Those indifferent to yearly sports titles should look elsewhere while fans of the sport will like it just fine. It does have its issues but it’s not what could be considered a bad game, not even a bad golf game for that matter. Really, the worst aspect about Tiger Woods 14 is how much it resembles the last game in the series, Tiger Woods PGA Tour 13.
Almost exactly the same as last year’s game is the technical aspects of the game. Graphics are still well done. Golfers look like their real life counterparts and the courses are beautifully rendered. They give a real sense of serenity and the ambient sounds, such as birds chirping and wind blowing, add to that. The soundtrack, like all the other titles in the franchise, still consists of elevator music and you’ll probably turn the music down after sometime or learn to tune it out.
The presentation in the career, quick tournament and practice modes is where things start to change. Unfortunately, it’s for the worst. The golfers themselves used to comment on their playing, telling balls to “stay in the fairway” but that has been stripped out. Faces are not as emotive either. They’re capable of emoting and the faces do show they can at times. They just don’t want to. Commentary is practically nonexistence and is turned off for many of the modes. When it is present, there’s not much said and as such it feels superficial and unnecessary.
Mechanics are the same as last years. Select where you are aiming with the d-pad, choose your clubs with the triggers and swing the club with the left analog stick. Like last year’s new addition, you have to make sure you don’t pull the golf club back too much or too little to prevent over or under swings while keeping your stick straight for a more accurate shot while also pushing the stick forward quickly for a quicker speed on the ball. Complicated, yes, but the tutorial in the game does a fine job teaching you the controls and its intricacies.
Different from last year is the draws and fades, which have the golf ball lean to the left and right. You now have to swing your club at an angle to accomplish these techniques. It’s more difficult than last year’s mechanics but more rewarding when you pull off that’s curve around a tree. Putting on the other hand is troublesome, which is a reoccurring issue in Tiger Woods games. You sometimes will do a putt perfectly, right amount of accuracy and strength and will miss the hole by an inch. This is due to the game’s inability to properly explain to you the plane level, and how hard or soft you’re putting. With time, you can get the hang of it and work that mechanic to your benefit but that’s still unfortunate.
Other than that, the game plays exactly like Tiger Woods 13 and that’s not a bad thing. Lining up shots and successfully calculating the angle and strength of a line drive or putt to position yourself where you want to be or sink it in the hole for a birdie is still satisfying. Those who are veteran players have the option turn off all the assist markers, grids and meters for a realistic challenge. There are also options to change the swing mechanics to something similar to what it used to be. Either way, for what it is, if you like golf, Tiger Woods 14 on its own is still a fun simulation of golf.
While playing, you gain experience, which improves your golfer’s stats when you level up, and coins, which can buy you numerous things including pins that give you stat buffs. About everything, even clothes, need to be unlocked from the beginning of the game but the biggest problem with this is if you are not logged into EA’s servers, you can’t earn coins, which is completely unnecessary. You can buy coins with real money if you like as well as extra courses, of which can double the game’s 21 already available courses. The create mode from previous games is just as detailed as before and you can still import a photo of yourself to use to create your golfer. I did it and it works really well. My golfer looks just like me.
The Tiger Legacy Challenge from last year’s game has been replaced by the Legends of the Majors mode. The various challenges have you recreate classic moments in the sport and the mode offers interesting challenges like avoiding bunkers in high wind situations while being fairly paced and challenging. Add in great presentational effects not featured anywhere else in the game like spectators makes for a charming take on the sport. You will also unlock golfers like Arnold Palmer in this mode as well. As such, this is where you’ll spend most of your time in the game.
In the career mode, you can now have female characters play in the LPGA and along with the four major PGA tours ” Masters, PGA Championship, US Open and Open” there are two dozen PGA tournaments for your character to go through, making for a fully featured career path. Unfortunately, how you progress isn’t well paced. Some events will be easy to compete in while the next you can’t even do because you didn’t finish the last in a certain way. Add in the quick tournaments that while lack the feeling of progression give you all four major PGA tours from the start and career mode feels lacking.
Online play is boring. Despite the numerous options that you have, which are arguably more than the single player content, actually playing golf online is dull. The presentation is even more stripped down than in the single player and the time limit for each shot makes for a constrained experience. No one really talks to one another despite the country club feature encouraging it (there’s even a chat feature) and competing against various clubs is underwhelming regardless of its 24 players possibilities. It really just means more time waiting than playing. Quick note: the game does utilize an online pass. I would say to be aware of that if you buy the game used but since the online play is disappointing, don’t worry about it.
Do you really like golf games? Get Tiger Woods PGA Tour 14. Do you only kind of like golf games? Wait for a significant price cut. Do you not like golf games at all? Spend your money somewhere else. It really is as simple as that because while it may not be a bad game, it isn’t very compelling. For what it’s worth, Tiger Woods 14 is better than 13 but really, it’s just another entry in the series and only fans of golf should bother.