Yes itâ€™s time to put on your chequered trousers, loud shirt, and ridiculous hat. Another disco night? graduation day from clown college? Or another night out with the NZ Gamer team? No, itâ€™s yet another Tiger Woods golf game. Can you believe it, its number 12 (insert tasteless joke about said golfer, the number 12, and the amount of affairs in a month).
If there was a record for how often a sport appeared as a game, golf would have to be right up there (pipped, perhaps, by car racing). The problem with golf games is that, technically, the genre is pretty much stagnant. What remains is to fine tune the standard swing mechanics, dolly up the eye candy and rattle out a few more courses. With this in mind we took Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12 for a whirl, to see if there was something startlingly new in this latest release.
The major draw card for this latest iteration is a chance to compete in the Masters on the famous Augusta course. If you are good enough you can put on the green jacket (finally covering up that shirt that looks like it was made with your mumâ€™s curtains). It's a long journey though, and you have to start your career in the amateur ranks before you can make it to the top circuit.
The basic principle remains the same from previous games. If you are using the controller, itâ€™s pull back the left stick and flick it forward. Less pull back, softer shot. There is a bit more science to it than that of course, as there is club selection, and the factoring of the weather conditions etc. Putting is not much different, with a power bar to represent the strength of the shot and a gridded putting green that shows the direction and gradient of the slope. A new addition is the caddy, who can help out on the club and shot selection. He often offers a couple of choices depending on the risk you want to take, and for the more adventurous there is also an option to create your own custom shot.
Another option for the adventurous is the PS3 Move, and while an effective means of controlling the action we struggled with the concept. If you are prepared to stand in front of your telly and swing the motion controller as a club, itâ€™s not much of a step to go out and play golf yourself. As a basic training technique for those fair weather golfers, and for those whose loud socks are in the wash, it is as close an approximation of the real thing as you are going to get at home without whacking your own ball around the house. (smirk)
As you begin your golfing career you have to set up your avatar. There are a slew of elements you can change in your appearance, from the shape of your nose, body and overall size. Your initial wardrobe can be changed as you acquire more experience and sponsors. This role playing element extends to allocating points to specific abilities such as swing, power and accuracy.
There is a large selection of courses to play through, and all of them are beautifully rendered, with lots of colour, texture and tranquil water effects. There is certainly a lot of detail and the game overall flows nicely on the console, with reasonable load times between each shot. As you play through the tournaments you have a competition commentator which also adds to the authenticity of the game.
So the real issue then, is whatâ€™s it like to play? Well, if you are fan of golf (or enjoy wearing mismatched clothing in public), then this is a good golf simulator. The addition of the Masters competition tops off a well designed and put together game. If you are a casual hack and are looking for a game to help you on the fairway, then it will help you in shot selection and let you loose on courses that you can only dream of playing. Underlying all of this though, is that it is not too much different from previous versions.
Definitely a must get if you are mad keen on golf games or a keen (real life) golfer. Fundamentally a good game, but donâ€™t expect anything different from what you are used to. It's golf folks, and the rules don't change.