For the first time in the history of this award-winning sports franchise, players are able to step onto the hallowed grounds of Augusta National, experience the rich history and tradition of the Masters Tournament and begin their own journey to capture the most sought-after prize in professional golf -- the Green Jacket.
Some important points:
- As the title suggests, PGA Tour 12 introduces for the first time in the series the Augusta National Golf Club, and more importantly, the Masters, to golf gaming fans. For those unfamiliar with the Masters, it could be best equated to the World Series...but for golf.
- Including the Masters into the PGA series isn't something that EA have been putting off--it's something that they've been trying to work out with the association for years. In fact, EA notes during my demo that including the Masters has been the number one fan request for the past ten years.
- Along with a fully realized digital rendition of the Augusta National Golf Club, EA has improved many other aspects of series. The interface is now much more user-friendly, with many actions just being a simple button press away. For instance, in the main career mode, "The Road to The Masters," a career assistant screen will intelligently suggest what would be the next natural course of action. For instance, if you just finished the AM Tour, the game may suggest that you look for new sponsors. Players can also progress to the next event with one press of the button.
- EA is adding caddies for the first time with PGA 12. Along with making the interface more accessible to new users with things like the career assistant, EA is making the series more accessible than ever with caddies who will suggest clubs, set up shots, and point out putting targets to aim for. It may sound like caddies are making the game too easy, but after a few minutes playing with the caddy "turned on," it quickly became clear that they're a very welcome addition. Additionally, this is a great way to introduce the series to new gamers, as past iterations of the series haven't been the most friendly to newbies. EA's also spent a great deal of time playtesting the game with some of the series' most seasoned players (using the top Leaderboard scores to track them down), and seeing those players welcome (and use) the caddies has made them feel that their decision to include the golfer's helper was a wise one.
- PGA 12 contains an RPG-esque upgrade system, whereby players utilize both sponsors and XP to improve their golfer. Sponsors give players certain objectives (think mini-achievements) to complete in order to unlock better equipment, while XP gained while playing is used to bolster the golfer's attributes directly. It's an interesting new system that scales back the "earn XP, grind, repeat" focus of past titles in the series.
Although the Masters and five other courses will be featured in the game, a couple of extra treats have also been thrown in for golfing fans. Players will be able to replay some of the tournaments historical moments in the Masters Moments, while players can assume the role of the titular golfer in Tiger at the Masters, playing through his four wins at the tournament.
For the Caddie Experience, players won’t be able to carry the golf bag for legendary players, they will have a caddie by their side to help them read greens and pick the right club for the shot.
The franchise has never really disappointed overall, and its sure not to start any time soon. It goes without saying that Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12: The Masters will be one of the premier golfing games of the year.