RORY McILROY PGA TOUR
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Developer: EA Tiburon
Platform: Xbox One
Availability: Xbox One, PS4
Now you’ll have to forgive me, but I haven’t played an EA Golf game in a few years, possibly even an entire console generation. I do have fond memories of the Tiger Woods EA golf games on the PS2 and Xbox however, even on the PC. I also don’t typically review annual titles like Hockey or in this case, Golf, because they’re essentially the same game year over year, with minor improvements.
Nevertheless, the PGA Tour series has always had a place in my heart. I enjoy playing the game, even in RL, I’m just not that great. The PGA Tour games are one of those annual EA Sport titles that are justr shy of being an RPG, except you have to reset and recreate your character after every expansion.
In the same light as Need For Speed, EA took a year off from its annual Golf franchise to prepare for the latest console generation. Also, coincidentally, they took this time to make us all forget about the Tiger Woods’ name and brand, as he’s been stricken from the cover. For the first time since 1998, Tiger Woods was not used as the cover athlete, and his likeness is not used in the game whatsoever. He’s not the household name he once was. Rory McIlroy is the new face of golf, and our new cover athlete. Rejoice.
The 2015 iteration of the PGA Tour franchise was rebuilt from scratch for the latest console generation, and now uses the Frostbite 3 engine to render more realistic environments. An entire 18 hole course can now be rendered as a single map, so other fairways become playable whereas before, errant shots would have been considered out of bounds, when the course was rendered hole-by-hole.
Not only do the courses look better, but more information can be gathered from the different lengths of grass, tree branches and sand. Throughout, the engine just allows for more realistic physics and interactions between the ball and environment. That being said, while the courses may look nice, everything else about the visual presentation is lacking, from the static wildlife to the laughably minimal character creation and clothing options. Swimming ducks hover above the water, deer or foxes just walk a straight line with barely a hint of animation, and you’re stuck with a bare selection of generic faces when creating your own golfer, and only a handful of different “EA” labeled clothes, until more are unlocked through tour progression. You also can’t create a female golfer. But at least the AI crowd reacts as one would expect, when you aim a golf ball in their general direction.
The game offers up a few different swing mechanics to try: “Arcade”, which uses the analog stick to swing and allows the player to apply a spin to the ball mid-flight, the traditional “3-Click”, click once to generate the back swing, 2nd at the peak of the swing, to generate the forward momentum, and 3rd at the precise point of impact, and finally “Tour” which is for advanced users, similar to the “Arcade” method, but with higher sensitivity, and with no assists. Additionally, the game has also seen some improvements in the aiming, and putting line.
The regression is also noticed when you take a look at the lack of game modes and courses, as most are notably missing from the game on launch. As previously mentioned, no female golfers allowed, so the Women’s events have been scrapped, as well as Best Ball, Skins, and Stableford gameplay modes. All you’re allowed to play is Stroke and Match, and restricted to back 9, front 9, and 18 hole courses. Online tournaments and a full proper career scheduled have also been removed.
The game at launch included eight real-world courses, with a few additional courses made available through free DLC, and a handful of fantasy courses. The PGA Tour event has the player playing through many 4-day events, to increase PGA Tour rank and level up our player’s attributes. What I noticed with this mode is you no longer play a full 18 hole course every day, but a smaller selection of 5 to 8 holes per day, and then the game simulates the rest of the day based on your attributes. This may have been the result of my choice in Arcade gameplay style, so I’ll have to dig a bit deeper. No visible calendar is available, so you just move from one event to the next. As we rank up, the attributes that improve our player are based on our play style, and will focus on areas that we excel at, or improve in, instead of letting the player manually pick where we want to see the incremental changes.
A new mode that they have added is the Night Club Challenge mode, which offers up about 200+ challenges across 3 maps. These challenges range anywhere from target practice, to putting challenges to trick shots, and utilize boosts and power-ups like a rocket-ball, double bounce, or speed spin. Each challenge grades you on a 3-star measurement based on points.
Overall, while some improvements have been made to the engine as a whole, better visuals, life-like crowds, and better ball mechanics, the lack of features and courses, non-existent game modes, and character creator are what hurt this title the most. It’s clear that this is a 1.0 title again, for the latest console generation. And this is something that plagued a lot of the EA annual titles at the transition to this latest console generation. It’s just a little concerning that EA took a full year off from the brand, and we’re still left with an empty shell.
On the Achievement side, like Need For Speed, the game is quite generous. At the time of this writing, I am only two locked achievements shy of 100%, and the remaining two are related to the Night Club challenge mode, where I’m left to finish each challenge, and getting the required amount of stars. Just time consuming. The rest are basically complete the PGA Tour season, and try the different game modes at least once.
All I Do Is Win (Win a PGA TOUR event) – 15G
Now you’re golfing with Portals (Hit through a portal for the first time) – 15G