Last year I said some rather unkind things about Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12: The Masters. For those not interested in clicking the link, I argued that EA Sports had sacrificed so much of what made Tiger Woods great as a golf simulation in order to include a single (albeit important) tournament. I closed the review by saying that most people should probably just wait for Tiger Woods 13 to roll around because, hopefully, EA had been forced to focus heavily on The Masters for one year and then could simply include it as a course in the future.
Well, I am reminded of a line from The Butter Battle Book – "We didn't do. And we didn't quite die." The Masters are still something of a focus in this year's version of career mode, but it's not as all-fired important as it was last year. And, the game works far better for it. The Masters is an important tournament, it is one of the four majors, but it isn't the be all and end all that last year's iteration of Tiger Woods made it out to be.
Enough tooting my own horn, what works this year? Well, so much. The animations are certainly improved, the courses look absolutely gorgeous, and it is just a whole lot of fun to get out there on the course and get swinging.
You probably want to know about the career mode, though, yes? Well, as with other editions of the game, you start off as an amateur and work your way up. Depending on how you perform, you can earn exemptions early on or even skip steps in your progression. It is a well-thought out and considered portion of the game and, as stated above, with the toned-down presence of The Masters, the feel is far better as well.
There are also power boosts provided in the form of pins this year that you can thrown onto your bag. They do things like improve accuracy, power, recovery, increase XP earned, etc. Many pins have a limited number of uses but can be refreshed by spending coins earned by playing while connected to the servers (rounds at DLC courses can also be purchased in this fashion).
A Tiger Legacy mode is available and lets you attempt to relive Tiger Woods' career to this point. And, rather than forcing players to buy with real money some of the DLC courses (16 courses are included on disc with 16 DLC ones, and six more on-disc if you by the Master's Collection Edition of the game) , you can earn them by playing in absolutely brilliant fashion over and over again on the courses. Earn gold level mastery of a downloadable course and it's yours to play with no more coins needed. That is an interesting change, and naturally coins are purchasable, it will take some time to see if it's truly possible to earn gold level mastery of a DLC course by playing it with coins earned in game.