There is no cute golf metaphor to sum up the frustration of having played a few rounds of Tiger Woods PGA Tour 14. A number of nagging problems and annoying glitches mar an otherwise good product. Much of the promotion surrounding this latest Tiger promised a much more difficult and realistic golf experience; perhaps this is why EA has graced us with numerous unnecessary loading and saving screens, broken sounds, and a lot of time angrily staring at Pebble Beach’s beautiful sandy beaches.
From the beginning tutorial the problems begin. The commentary, provided by Jim Nantz of CBS Sports, is choppy and broken, resulting in a series of guttural grunts from Mr. Nantz rather than any helpful information. Zooming in or out, moving too fast across the screen, or any other stressing operation causes the ambient noise to skip and lag. The same problem happens with the background music during loading or saving screens.
The new simulation difficulty setting is the most realistic and truly demanding setting in sports today. Golfers are unable to zoom to set up their shot, and must rely on what is within eyesight of the current lie. Wind direction is given, but speed must be determined by the flag. A PGA Pro offers two tips on what club you should use and where you should aim for, but they are often conflicting and come with their individual risks. For a long-time Tiger Woods fan or a golf purist, this is an absolute goldmine.
The gameplay is mostly the same as other Tiger Woods installments, and is very accurate, fluid and workable. Fade or draw golfers can get key positioning with use of the Total Swing Control, and each have their power, positioning, and loft applied to their shots with dynamic results. The character creation system works well and has a number of good looking possibilities.
The new mode Legends of the Majors allows players to step back in time through the history of golf, playing against or as some of the greatest golfers of each era. From the very first major championship at St. Andrews to the current ascendancy of Rory McIlroy and Bubba Watson, this mode gives golf fans and newbies alike a great experience both in gameplay and in history. Tiger Woods 14 has also included all four Major Tournaments for the first time ever, and has licensed all of the banners, logos, structures, and branding for those tournaments, displaying a nice touch of realism and detail work.
With all said and done, Tiger Woods PGA Tour 14 is likeable and has a lot of fun features. However, the audio and lag problems are so frequent and annoying that it makes playing not worth the trouble. Perhaps these problems can be solved through upcoming updates, something that would elevate the status of this game tenfold, but as of now, Tiger 14 is just a poor product. Golf is only so much fun and only has so much appeal, and when it has interspersed within it jerky elevator music and Jim Nantz’s vorpal screams it just loses a lot of it. Golf fans, sports games collectors, go for it. Otherwise, save your money.