Robin Williams summed up my feelings about playing golf in real life perfectly. A sport invented by the Scottish where you knock a wee ball into a gopher hole hundreds of yards away with a little fucked up stick whilst trying to avoid shit that has been put in the way.
PGA Tour, much like a number of EA Sports titles, has played it safe in recent years, with little additions year on year such as tweaks to controls or graphcs and the addition and removal of minigames. This year however EA Sports have been looking to make their titles more pure by trimming the fat of things they believe we don’t want or need.
The first thing a lot of people will notice is the visuals, which for a lot of games is not the be all and end all but for a title based on a sport that is as much about admiring your scenario as it is trying to find that gopher hole it is very noticeable and even at times looks worn. When there is too much going on (the courses load as you are previewing them) there are a lot of texture and item pop-in, like foxes or trees suddenly appearing out of nowhere. In fact due to the number of pop-ins that occur there is probably more Jump Scares in PGA Tour than there was in Alien: Isolation.
Now once the game is fully loaded things settle down a bit and apart from the occasional dead eye stare from character models you will be hard pushed to find many other flaws apart from the fact that it doesn’t quite look next gen; this is a shame when you consider the extra time that was given to the franchise. The animations for swings, reactions and cut scenes however are pretty smooth
I don’t normally like to break down each individual element of a game but special mention really does have to be given to the sound team on the PGA Tour as it really is impressive. From the slight differences between hitting the sweet spot of your ball to completely messing it up or from the rustle of trees to crickets chirping in the grass, it is all here.
When you first load up you have to complete a prologue of sorts featuring you playing as Rory McIlroy as he wins The Open Championship. This is interspersed with videos of Rory telling you how it feels at different points of a round of golf. A little long winded overall but also a very clever way of making you play through a tutorial without actually making it obvious that you are playing through a tutorial.
When you finally get to play there are three different styles of control (Arcade, Classic and Tour). The Arcade version is the left thumbstick up and down method with the additional benefit of tapping a button to add a power boost and/or spin to your stroke. Classic is your 1 button 3 click affair. Tour mode offers up the hardest mode of all offering no bonuses only punishments for the smallest mistake. Only the best players should even attempt Tour controls. Personally for me Arcade felt more like actually swinging to hit the ball and was actually my favourite control method many years ago on Tiger Woods on the PlayStation Portable(Digi will remember the long night shifts we used to spend playing Tiger, ummm, I mean working).
As I said previously, EA Sports have trimmed a lot fo the fat away so there isn’t really a lot of games modes available in PGA Tour this year. Play Now is your typical “jump in” mode that you will see in any EA Sports title, a quick game to sharpen your skills or kill some time.
In Pro Career you create a golfer – no game face this year though (boooooo) – and work your way through tournaments trying to becoming the elite golfer of your generation. EA Sports have found a way of making 4 rounds of 18 hole golf both enjoyable and quick. You only get to play a limited number of holes per round with the AI filling in the blanks based on your attributes. This makes it interesting in the fact you could score a birdie on every hole but the remaining holes, thanks to the AI, you have a nightmare so you are battling the odds for the remaining three rounds.
Night Club Challenge. What can you say about Night Club Challenge. My initial thoughts is to liken it to Crazy Golf but this isn’t crazy this is batshit insane. Hit a ball from the tee to a target on a small island for this challenge. Simple? Oh did we forget to mention the battleship that may get in your way a little. How about a power up that makes your ball stick where it lands rather than roll gracefully towards the cup? Yeah that’s here too. How about striking your ball through five rings in the sky so you can launch a rocket booster which will give you the extra uumph to actually even think about getting near your target? – check.
Joking aside though, Nightclub challenge is a perfect mode to hone your spin and shot shaping abilities as nothing is ordinary, nothing is normal and nothing is like what you would find on a “pure” golf mode.
Overall you are not looking at a game of the year contender here. Some tweaks to the loading process, a little more confidence in removing that foot that is entrenched in the last generation hardware and maybe a newer, shinier less worn out engine will bring rich dividends next year. However if you focus on gameplay and enjoyment alone you have a title here worthy of purchase, if the price is right.
MLG Rating: 7/10 Format: PlayStation 4/ XboxOne Release Date: 21/07/2015
Disclosure: Midlife Gamer were provided a copy of Rory McIlroy PGA Tour by the publisher for review purposes. The title was reviewed over the course of one week. For more information on what our scores mean, plus details of our reviews policy, click here.
After opening my review with it, re-watching it and laughing until tears were running down my face I thought it was only right that I included it here. Ladies and gents. The late great Robin Williams sums up golf.