Bogey For The Course
This strategy makes at least some semblance of sense with team sports that turn rosters over pretty quickly. It’s not all that practical to add MORE GAMEPLAY every year to a series that has been honed for 20 years in a sport that doesn’t really change the rules, but updating who’s where can make a big difference, especially in a sport like football where careers can be only a few years long.
It’s a bit more off-putting in a solo sport like golf (or boxing for another example) where almost NOTHING changes from year to year, and the core concepts of the sport are so simple as to not allow for massive leaps in gameplay. Let’s be frank, if you put in Tiger Woods 2010 and Tiger Woods 2014 you wouldn’t see very many core differences at all over the five year span, and barely even any change in the roster. Let’s be clear here. If you own a Tiger Woods game from this generation, there isn’t very much reason at all to update.
So why exactly does EA put out a new game every year? Well, the answer is what you’d think… money. Not only do they put out a new $60 game every year, they’ve taken to locking more and more courses behind DLC. To the best of my knowledge, that DLC doesn’t carry over from one year to the next either. Nor is the DLC all that cheap, so you are looking at a total investment exceeding $100 if you want everything. To be fair, there are over 20 courses included in the base game (and another 8 or so if you spring for the “Historic” edition) but the fantasy courses, included in the game since the dawn of time, are locked up behind DLC. This annoyance is compounded by the fact that almost all modes involve matches on the DLC courses and if you don’t have them, you are forced to skip right over them.
Obviously EA had to include SOMETHING new this year, and the big new offering in Tiger Woods 14 is “Legends”, a title which encompasses a group of historic golfers you can play (most of whom have been in the game at some point in the past), a “Legends of the Majors” mode which is a robust selection of scenarios that seek to replicate some iconic moments in history and a whole slew of presentation changes relevant to different eras. You can hit the links from the turn of the LAST century and play the game bathed solely in sepia tones and forced to use clubs like a Brassie, Mashie and Niblick. There’s also a full LPGA tour tossed in this time around (“Make way for the ladies” as EA so coarsely puts it) and a few upgrades to the online system.
Here’s the rub though… without the DLC a lot of these features might just not be available to you on some days. Imagine my frustration when I joined a Country Club on release day and tried to play in the daily club tournament. Only I couldn’t because the tournament was on a course I didn’t own. DAY ONE the tournament is on a DLC course? Really? That was enough to turn my stomach. I also tried another “connected” tournament only to find THAT was also on a DLC course. Then I started a career and a few rounds in I was forced to skip a tournament because, yes, that was on a DLC course. Fuck off, Tiger Woods.
None of these complaints are my biggest gripe though. While I did not play Tiger Woods 2013, every entry prior to that going back 5 or 6 years had a great suite of minigames like T-I-G-E-R, skins games and a host of others. There is no longer any sign of any of that, taking the entire “party” style of play out of the game. I can’t see why you cannot continue to include those modes even if you don’t change them up very much. Those had been one of the biggest draws to me and when I found no sign of them I regretted having gotten rid of Tiger Woods 2012.
Yes, the gameplay of Tiger Woods is still second to none (not that there is very much competition out there) but there is no need to continue to purchase new entries in the series every year at this point. In fact, if you somehow don’t already own one of the prior entries in the series it is far more economical to purchase any of the earlier editions at a fraction of the price and get not only the same gameplay, but also more content. This is a series that has stagnated this generation and each new entry looks more and more like a straight cash grab with a bloated package of DLC that directly impacts your ability to enjoy all of the features if you don’t purchase it.