Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12 Hands-On Preview

EA Mobile has announced that Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12 will be coming to the iPhone and iPad at the end of the month. We got a chance to go hands-on with the game at GDC, and we can report that it was looking like a top-of-the-line golf sim already. The game will feature eight courses, lots of real golfers, sharp graphics, commentary, and most other features you’d want and expect from a golfing game.

The last outing the Tiger Woods franchise had on the iPhone was 2009′s Tiger Woods PGA Tour. Since then a number of things have changed, including– most prominently– the addition of new courses. At the top of the list is Greenbrier, which we’re told is a player favorite. They’ve also added a fictional course called Predator that includes more dynamic landscape features, like a waterfall and a crashed plane.

As you can see in the trailer below, you swing your club by sliding your finger down on the swinging column, and then flicking it up quickly. This determines the direction and speed of your hit. Once the ball’s in the air, you can put a minimal amount of aftertouch on it to nudge back on course if it starts to stray. When you make it onto the green, like in other golfing games, you can bring up a grid overlay to help you see the subtle pitch changes between the ball and the hole.

Another cool new feature they’re touting is a Facebook “closest to the pin” challenge. Twice a week they’ll choose a par-3 hole for everyone to take their best swing on. Your distance will be tracked on a leaderboard, where you’ll be able to see how your skills stack up against your Facebook friends.

When we met with the EA representatives, they actually held up the 2009 Tiger Woods iPhone game next to the new one, and the differences in graphical fidelity were huge. To an extent that’s to be expected, since two generations of iPhone hardware have passed, including the introduction of Retina display resolution. Still, it was striking to see how far they’ve come in a relatively short amount of time.

At the very least, Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12 will remind folks just who Tiger Woods was before he got himself into all that trouble: one heck of a golfer, with a name strong enough to support a major videogame franchise. Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12 will be available on March 31.