After a brief hiatus, the PGA Tour video game series is back with a brand new face to front it in the form of the next big thing in golf, Rory McIlroy. Rory McIlroy PGA Tour fills the golfing void after a two year waiting period and becomes the first PGA Tour game on the latest generation of consoles. Can the Northern Irish hot shot propel the series to heights never seen before?
The short answer is no. There are many reasons to back this up as you’ll find in this review, with none of them being because of Rory himself so he can rest easy… for now.
Where do I begin? Well, let’s dive straight into the career mode which is usually the meat of any sports game and it should be no different here with PGA Tour Pro Career. Unfortunately it seems as though someone has forgotten this, due to it actually being a rather bare bones effort if I’m completely honest. Sure you can create yourself a male or a female golfer but there are serious omissions after this. The fact you won’t be facing off against other female golfers is odd should you choose a female character, however the fact your career will never cross paths with The Masters tournament is just plain stupid. Not having Augusta National as a playable course doesn’t seem viable when it’s arguably one of the most well known and hugely popular courses of all time.
Off the course there’s also very little to look at in terms of stats and your career progression is shown merely as a level number. Each level up you earn will unlock new items or clothing which is kind of nice. It doesn’t satisfy my need to choose where my skills are improved though; instead I’m left with watching the game decide where to add an attribute point here and there or mildly boosting an area of my golf skills myself. But hey, at least customizing the clubs in your bag is present, as is being able to decide on your golfer’s outfit, so that’s something.
During your career you’ll be expected to play four rounds on each course which can take a while on full rounds length. Alternatively you can switch it to quick rounds which will be over after a few holes and helps the whole process less monotonous. Four full rounds of Wolf Creek in a row is just torture, even though it’s one of my favourite courses.
Keep winning events and it won’t be long before you’ll be ranked No.1 in the world, ready to compete in the FedEx cup. That’s everything need to know about the PGA Tour Pro Career though.
The other main aspect that has to be mentioned is the way the game is played. There are three ways of playing; Arcade, Classic or Tour. Depending on whether you prefer to use the analog stick to swing the club or test your timing skills with the old 3-click method, every gamer will be satisfied when it comes to the control scheme. The Tour controls will suit the hardcore players as it removes assists and puts emphasis on the quickness of your swinging.
While we’re on the positivity train, the use of the Frostbite 3 engine, that was used in the Battlefield franchise first, brings about some high quality visuals. The courses all look great, from the greens to the trees and the surrounding canyons. It’s also quickened up the loading times between holes. These are the first signs that Rory McIlroy PGA Tour has arrived on the new generation of consoles. The only signs in fact.
Night Club Challenge takes the world of golf and gives it a makeover for a whole load of skill based challenges. This is the best mode of the entire game, using mostly fictional courses and Wolf Creek. It’ll test your metal as you hit balls through things like fluorescent hoops high in the sky for example. It feels like more of a rave than a night club, with some darn crazy ideas and boosts to make this a great set of fantasy challenges. These boosts could be as simple as propelling the ball higher with Rocket boost, pausing a shot in mid-air to avoid obstacles and even getting the ball the stick to the ground upon landing.
With exactly 174 challenges to complete and earn up to three stars on, there’s plenty to do. However when you consider this is a golf simulator game, the fantasy side shouldn’t be the main draw.
When all else fails there’s always Play Now to play a full round, a front 9 or back 9 on the course of your choice with up to four players. Don’t be expecting many game types though except for Match Play and Stroke Play. Long gone are the likes of Bingo, Bango, Bongo or Skins.
What about the courses on offer? There are just eight real life courses to choose from and four fantasy ones, including the standout Paracel Storm. Another step backwards when you think back to the sheer amount on offer in previous games. Celtic Manor, Augusta, Pebble Beach, Valhalla, Torrey Pines, are all gone. The list of well known courses left out is ridiculous and I’m not even scratching the surface with those named. This is EA SPORTS, a true giant in the gaming industry and they’re cutting back on courses, having to create their own to bolster the amount on disc. There aren’t even that many real golfers on the roster to play with.
Switching to the online side and there’s not an awful lot to say. Head2Head Ranked (or unranked) pits you against online opponents in rounds on courses voted for by those in the lobby. I wouldn’t bother playing against others though as it makes characters invisible most of the time, following the ball trajection of opposition doesn’t work too well and it all feels a bit lonely. You can also play in either weekly or daily tournaments that are set up to register your best round on. With so few courses and very limited weather options, there is a real lack of variety and they’ll become samey in no time.
Rory McIlroy PGA Tour takes great strides forwards on the way it plays as a golf game and visually it can rarely be faulted, apart from a few stuffed looking animals wandering around. On the whole though it leaps backwards on features, courses and golfers, hell they’ve even got made up cups on the PGA Tour to help fill the emptiness. As a part of the PGA Tour game series, it is a mere shadow of its former self.
This is not the greatest golfing game in the world; this is just a tribute.