The Good: Masters mode is exciting and fun, deep customization options, great swinging mechanic, better online interactions, great ball physics
The Bad: Huge technical issues hamper every part of the game, unacceptable load times, ugly dated visuals, fade and draw shots are hard to perfect
Tiger Woods has been the standard golf sim since Jack Nicklaus left the PC scene. Each year doesn't really bring much new, but 14 has a lot of new features to impress new comers or any Tiger fan who hasn't played the game in a few years. The new Masters mode and day/night cycles add a lot to the simulation aspect while new online interactions make things feel more seamless.
Tiger 14 has a pretty deep customization suite for creating a golfer and upgrading all your equipment from balls, pins, and clubs. You won't be disappointed here. The first thing I dug into was the Master mode. Playing as legendary golfers starting in the late 1800's is pretty exciting and fun. You get to use old style clubs and the game has an old school sepia toned grainy camera overlay to make it feel more like the time period. Everyone's even wearing the appropriate attire which is fun. There are two goals to get, one is the Legend Win. You have to score the same score that the golfers did back on that day. You play all the way through Arnold Palmer's day, to 2000 where Tiger won his first tournament. It's very exciting to see all these famous golfers back in their heyday.
Aside from this huge mode is the regular career and online. The career is pretty vast and will take hours to complete. There are plenty of courses as well, but the main part about Tiger is the swinging mechanic. You use the analog stick to swing back and forth (or the Move which wasn't tested upon review). A new feature has been added which is when you do fade and draw shots. You have to swing the stick diagonally which takes getting used to and you can never quite get a perfect swing this way. Depending on your controller's analog stick some people will do better than others. The swinging mechanic with the stick feels great though and has great feedback and responsiveness. Adding night cycles to the game increases the challenge, but honestly any novice golfer can jump in and play this game. It is so streamlined and easy to learn which is a great thing.
The game has replay value because you will want to perfect yourself on courses and the wind variation is random every time you load the course. The difficulty is also tuned just right to where you don't feel the AI is cheating. I was nailing Birdies and a couple of Eagles with ease thanks to the great course overview and various handicap options that can be turned on and off. Things like the putter guideline and grid can be turned on and off for added challenge or ease. Outside of all the gameplay is the graphics. Tiger Woods was actually demonstrated during the PS3 launch to show how powerful the console is. Looking at the series now, it's lacking and looks dated. There are some ugly textures and character models and the animations are wonky and don't look right. The commentary is sparse and not very consistent -- some times it will repeat itself during one course. Thankfully the ball physics feel spot on and the effects sound real.
This sounds like a great recipe for another great Tiger Woods game right? Well, at least on the PS3, there are so many technical bugs that the game isn't any fun to play. If you are using Dolby Digital on your speakers the sound will constantly cut out and the game freezes and glitches all the time. Not to mention the excruciatingly long load times and even the saving is long! I don't think EA will patch this either which is a shame. This is solely why the game is scored so low. I spent most of my time listening to audio cut outs and restarting the game due to freezing. The menus sluggish and they chug and the game just feels like peanut butter shoved in your console. Some people may be patient enough to deal with this, but if you pay $60 for a product you want it to work properly.
At the end of the day Tiger Woods 14 is a solid golf sim and probably the best one out there right now, but on the PS3 the game suffers from severe technical issues that make the game nearly unplayable.
(Review based on PS3 version)