It makes sense that EA Sports would release its annual rite of golf passage around the time of the Masters, so golf gamers can enjoy tearing Augusta National apart virtually as Tiger and the pros do it on the real thing.
On the surface, the ability to play all four major tournaments feels like a massive accomplishment and a ridiculous one at the same time. But gamers should overlook that and focus more on the Legends of the Majors mode. Here, you take a time warp back to the game's infancy and slowly progress, playing on classic courses with wooden clubs and sepia-toned footage. The lengthy mode gives you a feel for the advancements the game has made and is a better history lesson on golf than you would find watching a typical weekend broadcast on TV.
The Career mode returns as well, and, thankfully, the game finally gives women a chance to participate via the LPGA Tour. Unfortunately, the Career mode still ramps your skills up too quickly and gets you winning or placing in the top three in almost every tournament before you even finish your rookie season.
But this year, the franchise is scoring birdies instead of pars and bogeys. Impressive visuals and the trip through the lore should compel gamers to tee it up with Tiger, Jack, Arnie and all the rest.
PLOT Tiger and the rest hit the course
Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, $70
BOTTOM LINE A winner