Nearly two years ago, EA released Tiger Woods PGA Tour [99¢] into the App Store. This game was remarkable at the time for providing a fairly robust golf experience that was akin to the Tiger Woods series on home consoles. While the graphics were fairly lackluster, the frame rate was incredibly smooth and it was exciting to have such a fully featured golf game in your pocket. The real standout feature, though, was the touch screen swing meter which offered a very direct and organic way to swing clubs in the game, which we talked about in our original review of Tiger Woods PGA Tour.

Now, after skipping a new release last year, EA is back with Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12 [$6.99/HD]. This iteration of the franchise brings with it several new features and greatly improved graphics, but the gameplay feels extremely similar to the last version. This isn’t necessarily bad, as the gameplay was the strongest aspect to the last iOS Tiger Woods, and if you enjoyed that game then you’ll likely enjoy this one even more. If you’re looking for a completely new mobile golfing experience however, Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12 doesn’t offer that.

The meat of this year’s Tiger Woods is again the PGA Tour which has you entering and competing in the various golf tournaments for cash prizes. Your winnings go towards buying better equipment to improve your game and entering subsequent tournaments throughout the year. Besides this mode, a Tiger Challenge mode has been added where you can play through a number of different types of mini challenges for money, which typically have alternate rules and are generally better suited for a quick play session than playing an entire round or multiple rounds of a tournament.

There is also a Closest to the Pin challenge that lets you compete against your Facebook friends to see who can get nearest the pin on a particular hole. It’s a pretty neat idea and it works well, but would have been much nicer if it used Game Center instead as most iOS gamers I know don’t like mixing their Facebook with their iOS gaming. Also, multiplayer for regular game types is included but unfortunately this is confined to local play over Bluetooth or WiFi. This is a shame too, as it seems like the asynchronous online multiplayer that has been used in several iOS titles would be a perfect fit for a game of golf.

The 8 golf courses in Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12 include 5 that have been recycled from the 2009 game. These are Pebble Beach, St. Andrews, TPC Sawgrass, Doral, and TPC Boston. The 2 new courses are Greenbrier, Hazeltine (which was actually added to the last game by way of DLC), and the Predator which is a fictional golf course that features brutal terrain and a steep difficulty level. Unfortunately, the highly revered Augusta National course from the console versions isn't included.

There are 8 professional golfers to play as in the game including Tiger Woods, Paula Creamer, Anthony Kim, Natalie Gulbis, Paul Casey, Jim Furyk, Zach Johnson, or Camilo Villegas. You can also create your own golfer, and although there are a few additional options for clothing customization compared to the previous game, it’s still fairly basic.

By far the biggest improvement in Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12 is the visuals. There is still a minimal amount of pop-in present when the camera does a pre-shot flyby of a hole, and character models are still relatively basic, but in just about every other regard the graphics are a huge improvement over its predecessor. The game is quite beautiful to look at, and looks especially good on Retina Display devices or in the native iPad version.

What has not been improved, and is in fact far worse than the last Tiger Woods game, is the commentary. It's sparse, frequently inaccurate, and just plain poorly delivered. Thankfully it can be disabled in the options, and it didn't take very long for me to do so. The rest of the audio effects, such as the menu music and ambient sounds when you're on the course, are all very good, so the lack of commentary isn't especially missed.

Overall Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12 is a big improvement over the original iOS version, but it doesn’t feel a whole lot different gameplay-wise. The swipe mechanic for swinging works beautifully, just as it did before. There is a lot of content to play through with the full PGA Tour schedule and Tiger Challenge mini games, and depending on your fondness for Facebook you may get a lot of enjoyment out of the Closest to the Pin challenge as well.

There are further impressions of the game in our forums, and if you enjoyed Tiger Woods on iOS the first time around and are excited by the enhancements in this year’s offering, then Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12 is a solid choice for your mobile golfing needs.

Update: There is now a lite version to try for iPhone and iPod touch owners, link has been added below.

TouchArcade Rating

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  • http://tinyurl.com/26qdufz qbgabe12

    EA games... I can wait for $0.99 sale :P

    • Justsomedude

      Tired of "$0.99 or I ain't buyin' " cheapos like you. EA and Gameloft should never drop the price of their games below $4 just to torment cheapos like you.

      • http://tinyurl.com/26qdufz qbgabe12

        EA and Gameloft did that to themselves. 1 or 2 times 0.99 sale per year, I could justify that. But now they do that every few months. When did Starfront release? Mid Feb, and they just did a 0.99 sale few days ago.

      • Art Vandelay

        Wait for Memorial Day, I'm looking forward to buying a slew of 99 cent games to honor those who died for our country.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Dion-Roberts/680955415 Dion Roberts

        So, I guess you guys have never seen older games on sale in regular stores or developers trying to stem interest in a new game, device, product by running introductory prices or specials? Come on guys, stop being so damn cheap. You'll buy games like Doodle Jump all day for .99c, but Tiger Woods Golf isn't worth $7?

      • http://tinyurl.com/26qdufz qbgabe12

        I would love to see a regular stores did 80% off sale so often.

        when they did that so frequently, like literally once a month, and in my lesson, Simcity HD price dropped from 6.99 to 0.99 within a week, it become stupid and felt cheated to pay full price for EA and Gameloft game.

      • http://twitter.com/riChchestMat Chris Matchett

        Tired of paying full price only to see a sale within one week of release. EA's policy. Not mine.

      • accidentaldesign

        EA and Gameloft drop the prices of their games any excuse they get. They wouldn't do it if it wasn't a good idea. It makes their games shoot up the charts so they get exposure, and people buy it when it returns to full price.

        Who it does hurts is the indie devs who have to resort to the same tactics to compete but can't really afford to.

  • Stokenapper

    I was wondering if the difficulty had been ramped up at all? I found the previous version a little too easy and often found myself ten shots clear of the field with 3 rounds still to play.

    • Gatordj77

      The putting is alot harder-it actually takes skill in '12

  • Jimmyboy

    Like someone said, wait a while til EA puts this one on sale. No reason to pay full price for any of their games :)

  • tbox

    No non-local multiplayer? That kills it for me

  • AlanB

    Would buy it for $10 if it was universal. As it is, I'll wait for the inevitable sale too.

  • Spunker

    waiting for the standard ea 99c sale. and even if they dont, well then i wont buy it, sick paying 5 or 10 for a ea game and next week its 99cents....il wait for the sale, or i wont own it.not really bothered.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Dion-Roberts/680955415 Dion Roberts

      I can't believe people are complaing about a $7 and $10, console-quality game! So, you think a .99c doodle jump app has as much money, programming, marketing, etc...invested in it as a full-blown Tiger Woods golf game with sweet game play and graphics? There are some cheap people out there!

  • Criminaljstice79

    Is this ramped up for the iPad 2. Or does the iPhone 4 version look better

  • Anon

    Real Golf 2011 is much much better.

    • Greene

      Haha, whatcha smokin', dude? No way Real Golf 2011 is better than this game in any aspect.

  • Gonedoggin

    Your missing the point. No ones complaining about a 10 dollar price but the fact that the games are on sale after a few weeks, sometimes days, for a 99 cents.

  • Patagon

    Anyway, a pretty game, but a little bit expensive.

    Can wait for the sale!

  • accidentaldesignsucks

    Yeah well indie developers, just like indie bands, typically suck (or don't appeal to the masses) otherwise they wouldn't be indie. Hence... don't really want them anywhere on the charts. You can go find them if you want.

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  • Starman_Andromeda

    I'd be tempted to buy this-- even at $5--but with Tiger Woods still being the featured player and with all his baggage--forget it!  Don't want to support the guy!

    EA should be smart and put out different versions, with different players being highlighted!

    • wombatmobile

      I know what you mean.  For the next version, they should have Tiger carrying a bunch of bags.

  • Old_Scout

    It would be helpful for newbies to have a driving range or practice area where you could refine using the touch&slide ballstriker.

  • wombatmobile

    It is a good game with one major flaw and one glaring omission.  The putting is broken!  Many uphill puts are impossible.  The control only lets you hit too short or way too long. There is no way to hit correct.  How annoying!!!  And there is no way to measure or gauge distances.  No overhead view.  No measuring tool.  Apart from those problems, and the fact that it crashes a lot, this is a fun, engaging game.  I'm surprised they never fixed the putting.  It is annoying!

Tiger Woods PGA TOUR® 12 FREE Reviewed by Jared Nelson on . Rating: 4