Though it's mostly due to a lack of genuine competition, EA Sports has been dominating the links over the years with its Tiger Woods video game franchise. They've made small refinements with each new release, adding dynamic features that both casual fans and golfing zealots have come to embrace, as well as bits and pieces of gameplay that really make you feel like you're in control of your drive. Last year's game did wonders for the sport, even though small things like putting refinements made it a bit more technical than it should be. Regardless, we were able to conquer the Masters – always a strong feat when we can beat the pros at it.
EA Sports is really going all out with its forthcoming Tiger Woods PGA Tour 14, which will be releasing in March. Aside from focusing on great golfing superstars of today, the game will introduce a number of playable legends from year's past, getting through their game in youthful prime. Such faces as Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Lee Trevino and others will be added, awaiting your challenge in tournaments and one-on-one challenges. Think you've got what it takes to put the legendary Bobby Jones in his place? Grab your golf bag and let's find out.
For the first time in the series, EA Sports is also letting the ladies have a turn, as they have signed on the LPGA to take part, including several of its respective stars, such as Lexi Thompson and Paula Creamer. As expected, you can create your own golfing pro – male or female – to compete with everyone across the board. Whoever says "golf is a man's game" hasn't seen these ladies hit the links.
Tiger Woods PGA Tour 14 will introduce a myriad of new courses, with 20 available for play right on the disc and several more available for download. These include the likes of the Augusta National Golf Club (a favorite amongst the pros), the Old Course at St. Andrews, Pinehurst No. 2 Restored and the PLAYERS Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass. Each one has a delicate design to it, so you'll need to play your drives carefully, or end up sinking in the water or a sand trap. Playing against these folks, you'll need every stroke that you can get.
For the first time in the series, EA Sports is also introducing night golf. Now, while that sounds practically useless to some of you, as you're probably scratching your heads and going, "How can we see the ball?!", Tiger Woods 14 has a cool touch by using an illuminated ball, as well as small course details that show you where obstacles are. Using new time-of-day settings, you can play in any condition, at any time of day, and your golfer varies depending what options you choose. You can even go back in time if you prefer, challenging Jack Nicklaus when he's just a young whippersnapper. (And yes, whippersnapper's a word – quiet.)
The gameplay front of Tiger Woods 14 holds very little surprises, as the dynamic swing, power gauge and putting system make a return from previous games. However, if you feel like tweaking your A-game, you can do so with various golfer swing styles. 24 are available in all, changing in stroke, power, shifting and such. Only the most delicate pros will probably be able to tell all the differences, but these features are sure to help you get the most out of your performance. You can even tinker with such options as advanced shot shaping, strike meter abilities and ball physics, making it feel more and more like your game. Of course, if you prefer the default analog or three-button press system like in past Tiger Woods efforts, you'll get it here.
Where Tiger Woods PGA Tour 14 will really shine is in its social interaction. As before, you can take on others in simultaneous online play, so you don't have to wait for others to take their shots. You can also play with up to 24 competitors in party play and keep track of their progress through a stat-tracking system, so you can see who's out-driving who.
You don't necessarily have to make it a public contest, as there's also a Country Club set-up, where you can invite up to 100 members to join your elite party, chat with them online and hold tournaments to see who's the best of your league. With so many swing types and golfers available to choose from, this is a limitless option that golfing fanatics will love.
Tiger Woods PGA Tour 14 does lean a lot on familiarity, but it brings so many options to the table with classic golfers, the addition of the LPGA, and the ability to enhance your golfing performance in various ways. It's sure to be a big hit with audiences everywhere when it hits the links on March 26th.