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Platform: Nintendo Wii
You simply can’t call yourself a true golf-nut if you have never dreamed of slipping on the fabled green jacket. And if you can’t contain your excitement at the prospect, you can jump straight onto the Augusta national course. But it’s far more satisfying to gain entry on merit – via the Road to the Masters, which is basically the Career mode. It starts you off on an amateur nine-hole event, and if you do well in that, you swiftly acquire your Tour card; from then on, how quickly you progress to pitting your skills against the fearsome Amen Corner depends entirely on how swiftly you are able to propel yourself into the world’s top 100.
Ramming home the focus on the Masters are nine Masters Moments, which take over from the familiar Challenges found in previous versions of Tiger Woods PGA Tour Golf. These invite you to replicate iconic achievements from Masters of yore, such as Tiger’s own chip-in on the 16th in 2005, or Arnold Palmer’s eagle on 13 in 1958.
Another key, all-new feature is the caddy system. Once you try it, you’ll find yourself wondering why past golf games ignored this key aspect of the game. The caddy suggests shots for you at the touch of a button, and is particularly useful for beginners, as it introduces you gently to the subtleties of drawing and fading, loft, spin and so on. But it isn’t just for beginners: each course you play has a set of Course Mastery Objectives divided into gold, silver and bronze, and as you start to achieve those, your caddy (powered by wondrously high-tech artificial intelligence) will learn, too, offering increasingly imaginative tailored shot-options.
Online, the mighty GamerNet system is back which, once again, lets your imagination run riot by posting countless challenges for your friends (such as longest drive, nearest to the pin and so on) – just what fanatical golfers need to maintain their insatiable thirst for bragging rights even when the weather is too filthy for them to contemplate venturing outdoors. As before, you can build up a serious online reputation by taking part in tournaments and racking up GamerNet points.
In terms of courses, the Xbox 360 and PS3 versions include 16 each in the box, with a further 20 available as downloadable content, while the Wii version packs in 24 courses, although those are not being augmented by DLC. Golfers making their debut include the Molinari brothers, Ricky Fowler, Zach Johnson, Bubba Watson and Henrik Stenson. Those looking for the ultimate in physical authenticity will be pleased to hear that the natural-motion systems employed by the PS3’s Move and the Wii’s Motion Plus have been considerably honed and upgraded for Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12: The Masters – the latter can even incorporate the Wii’s Balance Board to measure how planted you are when you play your shots.
This year’s Masters is bound to produce more legendary feats to add to its unparalleled library of super-memorable golfing glories. What a joy it is that we’ll be able attempt to match them – as they take place -- via the medium of the world’s best golf game.
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Platform: Nintendo Wii
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