There is now a generation and a half of youngsters who know John Madden, a former Super Bowl-winning coach of the Oakland Raiders and broadcaster on Monday Night Football, only as a name associated with a virtual National Football League video game. With the April 1 release of Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12: The Masters, the striped one is guaranteed to remain relevant, no matter whether his real life game recovers and the march on Jack Nicklaus’ record in the majors resumes.
While previous versions of the Electronic Arts Inc. game have been around for awhile, this is the first to feature Augusta National. In fact, EA claims to have laser-scanned every hole on the course so that it could provide “the most authentic digital representation of the Masters Tournament. The company also says that “Every tree, every azalea, and every undulation in every green was recreated down to the smallest detail.” The game can be played on the Xbox 360, the PlayStation 3 computer entertainment system and the Wii, and also supports the PlayStation Move and Wii Motion Plus controllers.
In a press release announcing the new product, EA Sports executive producer Nick Wlodyka said that featuring the Masters “has long been the number one feature our fans have requested, so we’ve pulled out all the stops for this year’s game to ensure that our players feel as though they’re actually stepping foot onto the historic grounds of Augusta National Golf Club.” But according to gamer reviews, newbies had better get practicing if you want to play along during this year’s tournament. Learning to hit the ball consistently, and especially putting on Augusta’s slick greens, is as tough in the virtual world as in real life.
There is, however, much more to the game than the Masters. According to EA, Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12 also includes:
- Career Mode: Beginning a career as an amateur, players work their way through Q School, the Nationwide Tour, and the PGA TOUR.
- Caddie Mode: Players pair up with their own caddie, who provides strategic advice to help them become a more successful golfer.
- Masters Moments: Players relive and play through memorable, historic moments of the Masters and see where they measure up against some of the sport’s greatest legends.
- Courses and Players: Players can choose to play as or against more than 20 professional golfers, including new additions Zach Johnson (2007 Masters champion), Rickie Fowler (2010 PGA TOUR Rookie of the Year) and Bubba Watson (2011 Farmers Insurance Open champion). In addition to Augusta National Golf Club and its Par 3 course, Tiger Woods PGA TOUR® 12: The Masters features 14 of the world’s most celebrated courses, including Royal Melbourne Golf Club (Australia), St. Andrews Links, and Pebble Beach Golf Links.
Yep, you can pretend to be Bubba, long drives, twitches, goofy grins and all. Also available are clothing choices. And it’s been reported that the visuals on this new version of the series are much superior to those in the past. And if you don’t want to be Bubba, Zach or Rickie, you can always take your chances as Tiger, who we now know has taken a few chances himself. Getting addicted to this game is very likely to consume a great deal of time and for adult males, a killer of yet another marriage.
In any event, the new game is being heavily promoted. Indeed, it has even brought Woods out in public appearances on Jimmy Kimmel’s show and other venues. In the lead up to the Masters Tournament, EA SPORTS has unveiled a series of marketing initiatives. One of the more interesting is called Courseview, an “up-close, panoramic view of all 18 holes at Augusta National Golf Club .” Launched on Facebook, Courseview puts viewers on the course and offers a 360o tour of each hole.” You can see it at: www.facebook.com/TigerWoodsPGATOUR. So, when the next generation grows up with no first hand recognition of Tiger Woods the dominant pro golfer, he will like John Madden live on as a video game legend.
Tiger Woods PGA TOUR® 12: The Masters retails for $59.99 on Xbox 360 and the PlayStation3, and $49.99 on Wii.