Tiger Woods PGA TOUR 12: The Masters PC Review

By Adam Ames

It has been four years since EA discontinued their Tiger Woods golf franchise on the PC.  During this long drought, PC golf fans have waited anxiously for the return of this series as they bided their time playing various past entries.  The prospect of next-gen graphics, detailed ball physics, real-time weather conditions and a TV style presentation finally available on the PC made for painful anticipation.  Unfortunately for everyone involved, Tiger Woods PGA TOUR 12: The Masters not only missed the cut, it got lost in the parking lot.

Slashing Features Everywhere

Before we get into the meat of the review, the issue of advertised features by EA need to be addressed first.  The following is taken directly from EA’s main Tiger Woods 12 page:

Some of the new features:

Masters Moments • Tiger at the Masters • The Caddie Experience • All New Career Mode • New Players • New Championship Courses

After 7 hours of gameplay, I have yet to see a caddie.  After a doing a little research by visiting various forums and watching YouTube clips, I finally found out the caddie feature is only available in the console versions of the game.  As you can read for yourself, there is no distinction listed between PC and console platforms.

In addition to the advertising issue, TW12 plays, looks and feels exactly like Tiger Woods Online.  For those of you not familiar with TWO, it is a Free-To-Play online browser game (powered by Unity 3D) supported by micro transactions.  In fact, with the purchase of TW12 PC, you receive a free three-month subscription to TWO.  Why would anyone already familiar with TWO spend 40 bucks to play the exact same game only with The Masters stamped across the cover and a few new courses?  Are we paying EA for a Tiger Woods Offline Mode?

Even if you have no idea what Tiger Woods Online is, the media displayed before launch led PC gamers to believe we were getting a console port with all features included.  We were obviously very wrong.  The name of this game should have been titled: “Tiger Woods Online 2: The Masters”.  If anyone bought Tiger Woods PGA TOUR 12: The Masters expecting to see a caddie feature or a true original PC version, I would suggest requesting a refund from EA.

[EDIT: Thanks to an anonymous tipster, you can read a thread in the official PC forums about the displeasure some users are facing.  The good news is there are posters reporting successfully receiving refunds.  The thread above is different from the ones posted in the comments section below.]

One Is The Loneliest Number

When playing Tiger Woods PGA TOUR 12: The Masters, you feel alone.  While you can hear the gallery (or patrons for you Masters types) cheer or moan only after you complete a hole, you never see anyone.  This holds true for announcers as well.  Gone are the wise cracking antics of Gary McCord and David Feherty and what you are left with is almost narcoleptic.  The most annoying sound in the game are the loud “swooshes” every time you address the ball after a shot.  The bunker shot also leave a lot to be desired as they sound the same as a chip out of the rough.  The other sound effects are nicely done and the background menu music has a quiet, peaceful melody.

The only audio you hear outside of the ambient birds and occasional flowing water are the hole intros.  These do add nice touch to the game, but they are often presented with incorrect yardage or par number.

Two-Stroke Penalty

The graphical presentation of Tiger Woods PGA TOUR 12: The Masters is mediocre at best.  The difference between the rough and fairway is only the color.  While in the rough, there is no sense of being anywhere other than on painted brown dirt.  The same can be said for pine straw and any other areas outside of the fairway.  When you hit a ball into the rough in previous versions, you could see individual blades of grass blowing in the wind.  You saw divots and pieces of grass flying away as the ball was struck.  Not in TW12.  Almost all of the textures used for the fairways, especially at Augusta, look like green carpeting has been spread across the course.  Bushes and flower plants are blurry and trees look like they belong as assets to a drag and drop high school created art application.  Some of the trees, when approached at different angles, look almost flat.  Just like the audio aspects, there is no charm or  distinctiveness in the 3D environments.  Punching a shot out of bunkers leaves a pixelated dusting of sand that apparently disintegrates into thin air.

The golfer animations are clunky and stiff along with how the golf ball interacts with the hole.  Instead of the ball bouncing around in or around the hole when hitting a firm putt, the ball simply disappears.  After a par or better score, your golfer will walk off the course and acknowledge a crowd that is nonexistent.  The reaction shots are heavily delayed which takes away from the atmosphere and drama of the game.  In addition, these reaction shots only take place on the green.  All other shots simply show your golfer in frozen follow through.

Even with all of the graphics options set to Super, it would appear all of the graphical shortcomings of Tiger Woods PGA TOUR 12: The Masters revolve around limited technology provided by the Unity 3D Engine.  While the game may look good for a browser-based title, PC gamers expect a lot more in 2011 from a standalone game.

I have never liked ball trails in golf or baseball games.  I feel it is a lame attempt to be “cool” and adds nothing to the experience.  In  Tiger Woods PGA TOUR 12: The Masters, trails are visible by default with no obvious way to turn them off.  While I was looking to find a way to edit camera views, I switched to TrueView.  I loaded up the game to see if I preferred the change and unexpectedly ball trails were now gone.

Did Not Finish

Career Mode consists of an ultimately boring run through the Amateur ranks to the Nationwide Tour, qualifying for PGA Tour via Q School, and ultimately, being invited to The Masters.  The entire time I had no sense I was vying for something so important as a chance to play Augusta.  You never feel like you are in a tournament of any kind.  There is no excitement by holding on to a slim lead with two holes left to play with the prospect of a wearing the green jacket in the balance  Being able to progress through the Amateur ranks into the Nationwide Tour without winning a single Amateur tournament is extremely perplexing although not surprising.  Not only did I not win a tournament playing through the Amateur circuit, I purposely finished dead last.  I wanted to know if the game would penalize me being the worst golfer in the field and sadly, it did not.  After I finished the Amateur leg I was even given EA branded Elite equipment.  Our society today has begun a terrible trend of rewarding mediocrity so why should video games be any different.

Tiger Woods PGA TOUR 12: The Masters has a few glaring bugs and omissions .  Course and shot stats are nowhere to be found.  Trophy balls have been eliminated.  Almost every green putts as if you are on ice regardless of the noted conditions.  Even uphill putts with steep inclines seem to race past the hole when given the slightest nudge past the power putting indicator.  Side hill lies are not properly simulated and the ball physics are painfully bad.  The distance projections are broken as there were many times I hit a shot 20 yards past where I was supposed to have hit and vice-versa although this seems to occur when using short irons and wedges.  When teeing off on Par 4s, 5s or driveable Par 3s, the game defaults to 90% power regardless of the situation.  You must manually hold down the up arrow key to ensure full power is used on your drives.  This can bug can easily subtract 10-15 yards for each drive if you are not paying attention.  This also occurs on Par 5 approach shots where you will be defaulted to 93% power.  Depending on the hole and hazards involved, the 7% difference can lead from a potential eagle, to a disappointing par or worse.

A Gimmie

What I did like about Tiger Woods PGA TOUR 12: The Masters was the incorporation of historical feats throughout the history of Augusta National.  In Masters Moments, Jim Nantz provides a brief audio tour of a few exciting moments that, as golf fans, we should all remember.  You are asked to re-live these situations by taking on the individual shots or back-nine charges of the moment you select.  You can attempt to double-eagle the 15th as Gene Sarazen did in 1935, stand in the footsteps of Larry Mize contemplating a 140 foot chip to defeat Greg Norman in 1987, or become Phil Mickleson as you try to duplicate his miraculous shot out of the pine straw at No 13 in 2010.

If you are in a hurry and want to quickly complete your round, you can speed up the ball flight and putting animations by holding down the left mouse button.

Conclusion – Is It Worth Your Money?

No.  There are far better ways to spend your 40 bucks, especially if you already play Tiger Woods Online.  It would have been one thing if EA was up-front about Tiger Woods PGA TOUR 12: The Masters being a glorified expansion for TWO, but this was not the case.  The simple fact here is EA can very well be accused of misleading its customers by advertising features that are not available in the PC version.  Once again, PC gamers are left wondering why EA even bothers developing PC sports titles. I say it is time to stop.  Stop getting the hopes up of PC sports gamers and just end it once and for all.  We can be quite happy with returning to golf titles that were actually good.  Games like Tiger Woods 2004, Links 2003 or even going as far back as Golden Bear Challenge and PGA Championship Golf 2000 are far superior in every way in relation to what Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12: The Masters offers.   No caddies, no crowds, no announcers, mediocre visuals, many bugs and an overly simplified career mode make Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12: The Masters one of the most disappointing experiences of my gaming life.

Tiger Woods PGA TOUR 12: The Masters Summary

  • Time Played – 7 Hours
  • Widescreen Support – Yes
  • 5.1 Audio – No
  • Bugs – Several
  • DRM – Must activate and install through Origin
  • Control Scheme – 3 Click or TrueSwing
  • Game Acquisition Method – Purchased by TPG
  • Availability – Origin

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More screen shots:

UPDATE: According to EA, It appears there will be no PC version for Tiger Woods 13 this year.

40 thoughts on “Tiger Woods PGA TOUR 12: The Masters PC Review

  1. I do not have the game and probably won’t because it is not a direct port of the console versions which is what the TW Community asked for. Agree with your review of the game based on the feedback in the EA Tiger forums, but your comments about the moderation being “censorship” is flat out misinformed. EA is still dealing with spambots and their forum admin team is looking at all threads in all EA Sports forums and their own posts that are removed have NOTHING to do with actual feedback on the game or censorship of any kind.

    • I had users tell me their posts were being deleted for speaking negativity about the game. I have seen this type of stuff happen many times before with other high profile titles so I decided to inform potential readers of what I believed was happening. I have no problem with anyone posting their feelings on any topics my staff or I post.

      I do have a problem with you feeling it necessary to post two additional similar messages on my site and one of those on my contact page in an area where it has nothing to do with this particular game. If you would be so kind as to remove those, I would greatly appreciate it and we can move on with our lives.

      • And I have a problem with YOU making false accusations without asking anyone at EA or the Mods what might be going on. What you “believe is going on” and what is truly happening are two different things. I see you are practicing censorship right here yourself as you have already removed one of my posts that is based upon FACTS instead of what “you might believe”. Practice what you preach or stop preaching.

      • Despite what you have “heard” from users telling you their posts were deleted for negativity . . . if you took 2 minutes to look at the forums, you would see that 99% of all posts there about the game are negative. No disrespect intended, but these utterly false statements took away from an otherwise spot-on review. That’s all I am saying.

  2. I wholeheartedly agree with your review. The only thing I disagree with is your comment that forum mods are deleting posts without merit. This is not the case. I have spent a lot of time on the official forums this week and have seen many of the posts that are being removed. They usually fall into 3 categories 1. Spam bots (the forum is over-run by them) 2. double posts (the forum software is pretty bad, and posts are often repeated two or more times 3. blatant TOS violations (people love to post personal attacks on the forums directed at other posters 4. user spam – there are lots of posts where people are repeating the same thing over and over again.

    I have made a post about how I got my refund, and that post is still there.

    I would also like to point out that the two main mods at that forum are VERY VERY vociferous about how much they hate this game. If you don’t believe me, just look at their profile and look at their recent posts. I hardly think they are deleting negative posts, because their own posts (while constructive) are extremely negative about the game.

    • I appreciate your reply. Perhaps the users who I have spoken to had their message and threads deleted for the reasons you mentioned. I will make the correction in my review. Thank you.

      • Thank you for editing the review properly. I have no further comment. And as I stated before, I agree with the review, but I do not agree that users are being censored. That is categorically false.

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  4. Exactly. Classy move Adam for removing that part of the review. As I stated earlier, if you or anyone spends 2 minutes reading the forums, it is quite obvious that nearly every single post there is negative. Why are they negative? Well, your review was spot-on. People either can’t stand the game . . . or the ones that like the game can’t get it to work to their liking.

  5. one of the more irritating bugs that i found is that you cant control the cameras! i was stuck with the default view and unable to adjust the camera angles to show a better view of the action. is it just me or has anyone else had this problem? i also hate the inability to save my game in the middle of a round. minor niggles but still annoying.

    • You are right. This is 2011 and the fact I cannot save my progress mid-round is really annoying. As said in my review, if you are not paying close attention, you think the game is saving your tournament progress, but it does not.

      As for the cameras, I could not find any way to manually move them. The only way to change the cameras is choosing the three presets under Gameplay Settings.

  6. I never heard of True PC Gaming before I found this looking for a review. You seem like a small site and you buried one of the industry giants. Rightfully so I might add. You have my respect for not glossing over what was bad.

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  8. I’m not a hardcore gamer, so when faced with the choice of paying a few hundred dollars for a console, and then buy TW12, or going online to relax and play a less realistic round for free or a few bucks, I’ll go online.

    While I’m not sure I feel qualified to comment on things such as ball physics, or whether the changes to ball flights TWO users have noticed since the release of TW12 are more or less realistic. I have to wonder, though, if the reviewer is expecting distance meters to do a little too much. Choosing a target based on the wind, lie, and green firmness is something I enjoy about the game. I haven’t found resume | forfeit round option all that annoying, in fact, I think it may be one of the more realistic aspects of the game.

    The reviewer also failed to note that the TWO community is divided between the “sim” game and the “arcade” game camps. A split EA has chosen to honor through various game play options. It should also be noted that online players using the full screen mode can control cameras using the a-s-w-d keys, a feature that is very poorly documented.

    The graphics for courses Augusta, Atlanta, Dubai, and Kiawah are disappointing in TW12, and not at all up to the quality of the “older” online courses. Every longtime player of TWO is familiar with the silent and laconic replies to their to bug reports. EA also isn’t good at communicating game changes, or documenting TWO features. There is a disk based manual, but no easy way to figure out how to use it. The online based manual has been gone for a long time. Many longtime TWO users are noticing that an sharp increase in server connection issues since the release of TW12.

    I signed on TWO in the beta state. The changing nature of TWO |TW12 creates an open ended experience that keeps the game interesting, a bit frustrating, and fun to play. While I appreciate what *real* gamers and golfers have to say about the game, they have left me thinking I would not enjoy the hardcore “sim” game EA gives players the option to choose.

    TW12 is, at best, an upgrade to the TWO experience. It offers some additional ways to play the game, and it has the distinct feel of being rushed out the door. Here’s to hoping that the update routine that appears in the splash screen does more than fix a few bugs.

    • I thank you for your detailed post.

      In my review I was coming from the days of Links and PGA Championship where I thought TW12 could be a return to that greatness. At the time, I loved the simulation quality of Links and the graphics of TW2004. I enjoy setting up shots based on all available environmental factors as well as just hitting the ball around and having some fun. As a developer, I am sure it is a hard line to follow in creating an experience that will satisfy both “hardcore” golf fans while giving those new to the game a fair chance to try it out.

      I, too, was in the beta for TWO simply because it was a new PC golf experience. I am normally not a user who enjoys playing online at all, but it was either TWO or nothing. I played a lot and became increasingly frustrated with the issues I felt were not being corrected even with others saying the same things.

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  11. Enjoyed your review. Excellent. I was also over at EA forums and couldn’t believe the replies regarding TWTour12. You said you were able to save games now. Where is your game save folder by chance and assuming your running Windows 7. Also I’m trying to complete the Masters Moments and have been stuck on Tiger Woods 2005 7th hole at the Masters 2nd shot onto the green. Any suggestions. I”m either over the green or into the sand. I need to birdie the 1st hole. Thanks and good job. As far as editing posts here. Its your site. You can do whatever you want. Its kind of like hosting a party at your house and you get some idiots you don’t want around anymore. Show them the door. ! Have a great day..

    • I had not played since I published the review. I went back and played a few rounds and unbelievably, the game is not saving again. I have looked in all of the usual folders (AppData, My Games, My Documents, Program Data, Program Files, main TW12) and I cannot find anything containing a TW12 save or settings for that matter. There are game settings so I am sure there has to be a file somewhere, but it appears EA has done a great job in hiding them.

      As for the Masters Moments, I did not try 2005 so I would not be able to help with that one.

      Thanks for the show of support, although when I am wrong, I am not afraid to say so and make adjustments.

  12. Thanks Adam. Maybe if people have any suggestions on game hints, suggestions or magic potions they might use to make this game play better, they could post them here.

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  14. I didn’t like that I was forced to download Origin with the game. I can’t buy new clubs or at least figure out how to. Says I have $10,000 cash but I have zero tokens which I have to use to get new clubs and then I have to actually pay real cash to get tokens to buy new clubs. What’s the $10,000 cash for? No choice of playing a round with a big name golfers either for skins. Feels like a $10 game not a $40 game.

    • In Exhibition Mode, I am not seeing a way to add extra rounds. In Road To The Masters, I am not seeing a way to do it either. I will check a little more and let you know for sure.

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