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Rory McIlroy PGA Tour Review

Rating: 5.00/5 (1 Vote)

It’s been a long while since I invested any real time in a golf game.  So long in fact that you’d likely need to look as far back as the Links games on PC near the turn of the millennium.  I was in my early teens, and didn’t really know what I was doing, but I used to go to the gold range now and again with my dad, and play the local 9 hole pitch and putt course, so a golf game seemed like a good idea.  Since then the only real interaction I’ve had is a 15-20 minute go on demo versions of different iterations of the Tiger Woods franchise, hardly enough time to make any sort of opinion on a game.  So coming into a golfing game after so long has allowed me to come in with no pre-conceptions of what to expect.  This may well be a bad thing, as I can’t compare the current offering with ones prior to it, but it has also allowed me to make my own judgements of what I think should be in the game, and maybe isn’t, unfortunately there are a lot of these.

Let me try to start this review off with the positives.  The main positive, and arguably the most important part of the game is the actual gameplay itself.  It’s hard to argue that the mechanics behind knocking the ball around a patch of grass are on point, with plenty to make you think depending on how difficult you want the experience.  It is wholly possible to take off all assists and make this a very authentic experience, and on the other hand it is possible to put on so many assists that getting at least a birdie on each hole is the norm.  It’s finding that right balance for you that will make for the most enjoyable time with the game, and being able to turn assists off as you get to grips with things allows you to scale the difficulty level with your own ability.  Starting with a bright blue aiming arc and putting lines are well and good, but any challenge will likely be gone by the end of your first tournament.  I found them very useful to become accustomed to wind and elevation effects, but slowly turning them off and still hitting the perfect shot brings with it a great sense of achievement.  I still think it will be a long while before I master swerve and ball spin though!

Playing along with friends online is a great way to play the game, chatting away on mic while knocking a ball about.  But I’m slightly confused why the decision was taken to remove the crowd from the courses online, it could have led to a much more immersive experience, instead I’ve been led to cheering my own shots, much to the dismay of everyone else in the party.  Currently the only way to see the scores of your friends is by looking to the middle right side of the screen where there is a list of names of everyone playing, however, it only works half the time, with the other half of the time it just displays an ‘E’ for the duration of the course.  Including a score card that displayed everyone’s scores across each hole would have surely been a sensible inclusion?

One cool game mode, that adds a bit of fun and challenge (even if the neon is a bit garish) is the Night Club Challenges.  A series of 170 unique challenges, that begin with testing your golfing skills, and end up being over the top, with explosions and a variety of funky different scenarios.  It gives a nice restbite and change from the main game, and allows you to have a bit of fun with the mechanics in the game.  

To avoid the rest of this review becoming too much of a garbled rant-fest, I’m going to do something that I don’t think I’ve ever done in a review.  I’m going to rock the bullet points.  The following are some other gripes I have with the game:

  • Repetitiveness – this really does stick out a mile.  I think the lack of courses has been covered by plenty of other outlets by now.  But the lack of different courses really sticks out once you’ve put a few hours into the game.  Along with this the commentary becomes an absolute bore.  That’s not to say I was expecting in your face excitement from golfing commentators, but I was hearing the same lines over and over as I was playing through courses a few times.  It really does get dull, and maybe we can thank EA for not including it online?  For a company that has packed so many lines of dialogue into the likes of FIFA commentary, this really is a poor performance.  Finally, the celebrations, there aren’t many of them, and a lot of the ones that are there, are way over the top and can at time makes a golfer look possessed.  But that might well be down to how he looks in the first place…moving onto that next.
  • Customisation – ahhhh customisation.  I really enjoy creating my character in a game, changing facial features to make an in game character look how I want him to, and it’s a feature that EA has done well with over the years implementing the likes of Game Face, so you’d think we’d be well covered here.  NOPE!  You have a choice of 10 different faces.  But they may aswell have included a scaling bar starting with Shrek at the one end, and finishing with Sloth from the Goonies at the other.  Because you’re destined to choose a face that fits somewhere in between.   Seriously, the majority of the faces don’t even look human.  I can’t even choose ginger as a hair colour, and there are zero beard options.  Bad EA! Go to the naughty corner.
  • Graphics – as soon as the foxes popped in before I pressed the A button to go into the game I knew there was likely to be some hitches in this department.  I would say though, that in general, the courses are stunning.  Every blade of grass looks to be cut to perfection and the water and sand effects are great.  It’s a shame that the level of detail couldn’t be kept consistent throughout.   One glaring issue for me is the fact that the ball seems to stay on the tee, at least 80% of the time.  As you hit the ball it is replaced by another, it’s even more obvious when your colourful ball is hit and there is a while one sitting there.  There is also some texture pop in when getting close ups, particularly on the wooden signs telling you the hole number and par.  Yes these are only small hitches, but they shine as quite obvious in what is otherwise a very good looking game.

  • Career Money – This is more of a thought of my own, and I don’t even know whether it has been in games in the past.  Now and again during a loading screen there will be a somewhat humorous line saying ‘feeding the birds’ or ‘cutting the grass’.  At the end of a tournament during your career it says ‘Paying Golfers’.  But there isn’t any money to be used in the game.  It could have been a perfect opportunity to strive to get better to earn more money to buy clubs, bags, clothing etc.  Instead there you just grind through a levelling system, which is separate to your actual Pro’s level.  I just think they’ve missed a trick here.
  • Career Mode – I wasn’t actually going to have a career mode bullet point, but the more I think of it, the more I think it warrants one, and I think it ties in with the above point.  It really does feel like a grind.  There isn’t a calendar so you can see when the big rounds are coming up, it’s just a next, next, next situation, that does nothing to grab you.  I picked a bio for my Pro when I created him, why isn’t that used to create news stories, magazine excerpts, hell even a trophy presentation where they hand a cheque to my bright red haired Shrek lookalike.  Just play the holes, (4 times), and go onto the next one.  Blergh
  • Loading screens – Once you are playing on a course, these aren’t so bad.  But it takes a loooong time to load up the game, and I’ve found myself staring at a loading circle for far too long on too many occasions.  It even presents a black screen where you need to wonder whether the game has crashed or not when joining an online game.

A lot of these negative on their own wouldn’t be so bad, but combining them all really paints the game in a bad light.  The game features excellent gameplay mechanics, but it really does need some meat on the bones.  I fear that some of that meat is likely to come in DLC format, but as it stands, especially in comparison to other titles from EA Sports, this really is a disappointing effort.  Solid gameplay, let down by a massive lack of features.

**Thank you to XCN for the opportunity to review this game**


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