EA Sports Tiger Woods PGA Tour 14 is now available for early access download for EA Season Pass subscribers. We got a glimpse of the game from the awesome demo that dropped on March 5, and I must say, as demos go it was one of the best I've played.
There were a good number of the features available, and the online components were working quite well.
In playing the full early access version, it appears the retail game is building on the demo's successes.
The game will be in stores on Tuesday, March 26, and I'll have a full review for you then, but here's a look at the newest features.
Gimme All Four
For the first time in the history of video games, golf gamers can play in all four official majors. The Masters, U.S. Open, the Open Championship and the PGA Championship are all playable events.
That probably shouldn't excite me as much as it does, but I'm not ashamed. It's great for a gamer like myself that loves to create and simulate real-life sports events for YouTube, etc.
The authenticity and inclusion of the sport's biggest events is a major (no pun intended) plus for me.
Golf Time Machine
Retro is in nowadays in sports video games, and the Tiger Woods series is coming to get a piece of the old-school action.
This year you can not only play historic courses, but you will do so in attire fit for the era as well as with equipment from yesteryear.
Hopefully this adds a new challenge and—again—that authenticity many sports gamers crave.
20 Courses Available...Before DLC and 20 Playable Pros
I didn't like the fact that some of the courses I wanted to play in Tiger Woods 13 were only available through DLC.
This year there are still courses coming through DLC and various pre-order options, but there are at least 20 available on the retail disc.
Getting more for free is always better.
Another thing I hoped for was an expanded roster of golfers. EA Sports has bumped up the total number of official players available to 20, but I'm hoping gamers can create even more under the same profile.
Previously, it was difficult to expand the roster beyond your personal golfer and the roster on the retail copy. I'd like to see the series focus a bit more on expanding the available options here.
I'll be sure to play with this aspect to give a full account of the parameters in my review.
Day or Night, Rain or Sunshine
This year's game is equipped with a live weather feed that simulates real-life conditions, and even allows you to tee-off at night.
Night golf looks pretty cool, and it adds an arcade element that is a welcomed alternative to the simulation-style most associated with the game.
Quick Tournaments Are Awesome
There isn't much I can be definitive on yet with this game, but I can tell you the quick tournaments and online play in general is the early highlight for me. The way you're able to jump into a tournament-like atmosphere on a whim is perfect.
You can participate by communicating with your headset with others that are playing, or you can simply watch their progress and compete against them silently.
The organized chaos of streaming shots on your screen isn't overwhelming or difficult to understand. It's just fun.
Where the Ladies At?
The Tiger Woods series has had female golfers before, but this year the game includes the LPGA career mode, along with the Kraft Nabisco Championship.
This is really a pretty awesome and historic inclusion. No other major sports game has included the women's side of the sport to this degree.
I'm not sure that fact is getting enough attention.
Even More Kinect Integration
Tiger Woods has used the Kinect device with Xbox 360 in previous versions, but this year the integration seems a little more emphasized in the presentation and menus.
From the moment you start up, the game is almost assuming you're using Kinect. That speaks to the confidence EA sports has in the way the gameplay and the device work in tandem.
Here is Amanda Balionis of PGATour.com demonstrating the Kinect functions...beautifully.
Even though the game is available for download now for EA Season Pass subscribers, and officially releases on March 26, you still have time to pre-order it.
One interesting pre-order incentive comes from Target.
Fans who pre-order Tiger Woods PGA TOUR 14 or the Tiger Woods PGA TOUR 14: The Masters Historic Edition will receive NBA All-Star Kevin Love and retired tennis player Andy Roddick as playable characters.
That's just one of a few pre-order options, you can click here to see them all.
Looking Ahead to Official Release
Golf is a tough game to add wrinkles to, but it looks as though EA Sports is attempting to add some variety and freshness to the product.
Check back on Tuesday for the full review.