Rory McIlroy PGA Tour Review – not quite a hole in one

I love golf.

I play it for recreation and exercise in the real variety and I have always played the computer game variety since the days of Leaderboard Golf twenty plus years ago.

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The new engine is impressive as are the huge crowds.

So for the current generation of consoles (PS4, XB1) we finally have Rory McIlroy PGA Tour. This is EA Sports’ first non Tiger Woods golf game in about 18 years as they parted ways a couple of years ago. This new game also is built on a new engine for the golf game, the Frostbite 3 engine used in the latest Battlefield games. The graphics are pretty impressive but don’t expect the level of fidelity as advertised in the screenshots. On the XB1 version the resolution definitely looks lower than the advertised screenshots but it is still a pretty looking game. There is a bit of object pop-in though from time to time, which is a bit disappointing. However, the detail is very impressive and the crowd sizes in the big tournaments are huge.

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Your golfer has some entertaining animations for good putts and bad.

So is it any good? If you have been waiting for a game that looks a little bit better than The Golf Club and also has the licensed courses, then you’re in luck. If you are hoping it is as feature rich as the last EA Sports game, you’ll be disappointed.

This does feel like a light version of previous PGA Tour games. For starters, when creating your own golfer there is no EA Game Face (where you can take a photo and it digitises your face into the game). I was personally pretty disappointed with this. I loved having a Grocs lookalike in previous EA games. The amount of courses seems to be trimmed down from previous games as well. You get just a dozen courses, and a few of these are fantasy courses (some good, some bad). You also only get a handful of licensed players (twelve), not including any Australian golfers at all.

Career mode is quite good but pretty bare bones.

Career mode is quite good but pretty bare bones.

The modes available in this game are Tour mode, Night club challenges and Quick Round. Tour mode is fairly light but it does a good job of involving you in the proceedings. Don’t expect The Masters though as Augusta is missing this time around as well as the famous tournament. Apparel and equipment are still unlockable as you level up.  Stats are no longer assigned by you, now they are automatically incremented based on how you play in a round. I actually like this idea, it is a nice touch. You also unlock Attribute Bonuses as you level up as well. These are different styles that can boost your stats slightly and allow you to give yourself a slight advantage if you stats are lacking somewhere (for example, Pitch and Putt and Balanced). There are 100 levels to go up in for your custom golfer and you unlock an extra Attribute Bonus every 25 levels.

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Night Club Challenge mode is pretty entertaining for short bursts.

The Night Club Challenge mode is an interesting take on golf and aimed at the Angry Bird type player. This gives you stars for nailing a shot through various hoops in the air and on the ground. The challenges get progressively harder of course and it is played at night with a glowing golf ball and pretty colours for the hoops. I played this mode for about 30 minutes before going back to Career mode. It is good for short spurts but not much else. I think more casual golf players may get a lot of enjoyment out of this though but I’m a Career progression player myself.

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Night Club Challenge mode in action.

One of the big advantages this new game has now is the decent multiplayer. Creating a private room and locking the room to just the players you want to invite in is straightforward now. The two main multiplayer modes are Head 2 Head and Online Tournaments. Head 2 Head is pretty bare bones (no commentary or crowds) but very functional. For some reason they have not allowed traditional play now though. It is this weird simultaneous play that has your player showing up at the same time as your opponent. This takes a bit of getting use to and I do wish they would allow the traditional mode of play still where you take turns.  The multiplayer is stable though and the online tournaments are fun to try and get somewhere decent in the leader boards. Another big plus for those that don’t like the analogue stick controls; the three button press style of control is available again as a play option. This is wrapped up well in the Online modes as well because EA have catered for those who want to play in Arcade mode, Tour mode, or 3-click mode.

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For those who want to play in a Battlefield map – this is for you.

So is this worth buying? If you are a mad keen golfer (like me) and have a couple of mates to play online with then I’d say yes. If you are not so keen and just want to take a look at it at some stage, then I’d suggest waiting for it become available on EA Access (for XB1 users) or for the game to be a lot cheaper.  I’ve noticed subtly that there is no number at the end of the title of this game. That would suggest it won’t necessarily be an annual title. I just hope EA actually patch this game a bit and provide a few more game modes (only Match and Stroke play are available at the moment). This product feels a bit rushed even though they have been working on it for several years. The bonus course you get for pre-ordering the game doesn’t even work in multiplayer yet, which is a real shame (update – EA have made an announcement that this course is free for everyone August 11 and it will be playable in online, career and quick play modes).

I’m enjoying Rory McIlroy PGA Tour but it isn’t as good overall as the last couple of PGA Tour games. Let’s hope EA provides some ongoing support for this title, because with a bit of spit and polish, this game could really shine.

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