Published on July 14th, 2015 | by Don Parsons2
Rory McIlroy’s PGA Tour Review
Summary: A beautiful trip out to the golf course, but a few setbacks keep it from being a hole in one.
Last year’s lack of of a PGA Tour game from EA Sports left a hole in my gaming agenda. A temporary fix was given by The Golf Club, but it lacked what I loved most about the Tiger Woods games: a lengthy career to build up a golfer from scratch. Rory McIlroy’s PGA Tour is the return of the yearly EA Sports title I always anticipated most, and at first the game brought a smile to my face. But the more I played it, the more the cracks in the foundation started to show.
Rory McIlroy’s PGA Tour is the best looking golf game on the market, hands down. There were a few graphical hiccups I noticed, like disappearing ducks for example, but in general, the Frostbite 3 engine makes this game look absolutely beautiful. Pretty much every time the camera panned around the course, my breath was taken aback. From the trees to the grass, the visuals are simply stunning.
The game starts off with a short introduction by McIlroy and some playable sections acting as a tutorial and game setup. The famed golfer talks about his feelings while he plays, I got to fiddle around with control schemes, and generally had an opportunity to relearn the game. While there’s a claim that this PGA Tour game started from scratch, it still very much feels like the Tiger Woods games from yesteryear. I could curve shots, hit them low or lop them high into the air with an arc. Most importantly, they brought back my favorite 3-click system.
The last few Tiger Woods games slightly suffered by the “realistic” stick swing, where I had to pull back on the analog stick and push up to swing. I had missed the old 3-click system, which has me pressing a button to start the swing, again to stop it in the ideal power marker (or before or after depending on the distance I wanted), and then finally one more time to stop it in the accuracy marker. I instantly fell back in love with the 3-click system, and when trying the analog system after that, I realized how much I disliked the analog stick swing.
Great visuals, check. Bring back the 3-click system, check. EA Tiburon was on a role. The next great thing was, of course, the career mode. This is why I play sports games, to take control of a person, and evolve them with experience. Unfortunately, the career mode in Rory McIlroy’s PGA Tour is rather shallow. The silver lining is the new “quick play” feature. Instead of having to play 4 rounds of 18 holes on the same course back to back for one tournament, the game pre-selects 4-8 holes per day, and simulates the rest based on your stats. The first three days were random holes, but the last day was always the last 8 holes so I had control over my score in the end. This new mechanic is a very welcome one. I could play several tournaments a night, as opposed to before, when I would play one and stop.
The shallowness was not evident at first, though, I should have seen the writing on the wall when I went to create my character. The character creation is one of the thinnest I have experienced in years. There were a dozen heads to chose, half a dozen hair styles, no facial hair options. In short, I could not create “me,” complete with awesome beard and fantastic hair, and play as “me,” despite my golfer’s name being my own name. At this point, I might as well have played with a pro golfer.
After sinking several hours into the career, it finally started to lose its shimmer. Leveling up was raising my stats, but I could not pick what was getting better. I could have put everything into putting, but instead random things were getting leveled up. Playing well in a tournament would get me more experience, and leveling up would unlock new equipment, none of which I had to buy, as there is no sort of currency. So all-in-all, despite the amazing presentation that EA Sports provides, the career had no hook after a good length of time.
There are no online clubs this year around. The online play in general is rather lacking. There are daily and weekly tournaments, but if you play like me with the ball arc and such, you won’t get very far as it was turned off on the two I tried. There’s also no real hook here, no sort of progression. The online clubs from the past game were a great touch and sorely missed this year.
What is a great deal of fun, and probably the most fun in the whole package, are the Night Club Challenges. These are little mini-games, like try to arc the ball through a ring in the air, with a bonus ring further in the distance only reached by a boost and good timing. Or landing a ball in a specific spot and making it stop without rolling off to oblivion. This mode was a lot of fun. I could take my golfer in, but I wish I could have leveled him up while playing through them.
Rory McIlroy’s PGA Tour is a return to form in some areas, showing that EA Sports has the best looking golf games with the best interface and controls. But the game feels like PGA Tour Lite. Only a handful of courses, less than a handful of golfers, a weak golfer creator, a thin career mode, and even weaker online functionality, PGA Tour plays like a AAA title, but more like a beta with half the features available. Sure, more courses and golfers are coming, and for free, but the most painful missing links are something I don’t think they can just cover up with DLC.
This review was written with review material provided by the publisher on the Xbox One home console. For more information on our review policies, please read here.