Rory McIlroy PGA Tour PS4 Review
Publisher: EA Sports Developer: EA Tiburon Genre: Sports Players: 1-4 Age Rating: 3+
Other console/handheld formats: Xbox One
Following the dip in form of Tiger Woods, EA have decided to part ways with one of the most successful golfers ever after a long and fruitful 15 year tie, replacing him with the top golfer in the world right now, Rory McIlroy. If you are expecting this to mean that the game is the greatest golf game in the world to match the modern day golfing great in the title and on the cover, then you’ll be sorely disappointed.
It’s not as if the actual game of golf that the game represents is poor, as this is definitely far from the case. EA Tiburon have been making golf games for years now, and EA’s PGA Tour games have been around even longer, so it’s not as if they don’t know how to make a golf simulation.
Loading up the game for the first time certainly results in a warm welcome. With an instant tutorial, EA obviously wants you to get used to the game straight from the off. In the tutorial you take control of Rory McIlroy himself and there’s also videos between holes in which the golfer explains how he’s feeling when he’s playing the sport and when he’s under pressure, which is a nice touch. The aim in the tutorial is to become the US Open champion, learning the different control schemes and whatnot as you go up against German golfer, Martin Kaymer.
There are three different control schemes, which includes the classic three click mechanic, as well as the arcade and tour options, with the latter two each making use of the analogue stick in different ways. The classic three click mechanic is what golf games were built on, while the arcade option makes use of the stick in simple ways. The tour scheme is the most complicated option: it turns off all the assists and makes swinging your club all the more difficult and simulation-like. Each control scheme is also highly customisable, which is pleasing.
The putting has seen some improvement, and a helpful line predicts the path that the ball is going to go in. The swing mechanics themselves also have various assists that weren’t there before, which helps out those who are just getting used to the game. With all this and the above said, the game, typically, plays an excellent round of golf.
Built on the Frostbite 3 engine, the new visuals are also lovely, and the virtual greens and fairways, whether they are based on real life courses or are fictional ones, have never looked so beautiful, and loading times have been kept to a minimum. It’s a shame that you see pop-up from time to time though, and this does spoil the immersion somewhat. The same can be said of the commentary from Rich Lerner and Frank Nobilo, which sounds insightful enough at first, although it starts repeating all too often and, even worse, their comments don’t match what is happening on the course from time to time.
The commentary and pop-up are small issues compared to the rest of the problems of the game though. When compared to recent PGA Tour games, everything has been stripped down here, which has resulted in a hollow game of golf.
There are only 12 courses available in the game at the moment, and while some unfamiliar with recent games might say that this is a decent amount, it’s actually a disappointing number. Tiger Woods PGA Tour 14 had around 20 courses, so having only 12 in this game at launch was something that was difficult to ignore. EA have announced that two free courses – TPC Scottsdale and East Lake Golf Club – will be available to download for the game soon though, so this will improve things somewhat, and hopefully the absence of the likes of Augusta National will be remedied in a future download. Still, there’s always the chance that EA are not going to be generous enough to offer any more courses for free, so you may find yourself having to pay out to increase the amount of courses beyond the 14 that will be available once the two free courses become available for download. At the time of writing TPC Scottsdale has now been added to the game.
It’s not only the courses that have seen a cull in their number though, as the modes and golfers have as well. There’s a lot less male professional golfers included then there was in the previous game, and female golfers and legends have been done away with completely. As for the modes, there’s the career mode, multiplayer options, as well as the introduction of the brand new Night Club Challenge mode, but there’s little more other than this. When compared to recent games in the series, there really isn’t too much to keep you playing.
Even the returning career mode can hardly be called intact, and it hasn’t been improved in any noticeable way. Typically, you first create a golfer, but the number of options for doing so is really quite limited. There’s no amateur competitions before reaching the PGA Tour either, which means that you are thrown straight in there, resulting in a mode that feels less substantial than it has done in recent years. As the main single player mode for many, this will be very disappointing.
The brand new Night Club Challenge mode is a less serious take on the sport, and includes a neon look as well as power-ups. There are a number of challenges in the mode, with challenges taking place on three of the fictional courses at night. The challenges are varied, and when you complete a challenge you can earn one to three stars based on how well you performed. The Night Club Challenge mode is a brilliant and worthwhile addition, although fans of the more serious portion of the game would more than likely have preferred EA to have kept some of the previous content in the game as opposed to them bringing in such a zany new mode.
It’s sad that the newest game in the PGA series is less substantial than it has been for years, and it’s certainly one that would have benefitted from a longer development time. You could say that the shift from one generation to the next is the cause of such a bare game, although it’s been over 2 years since the release of Tiger Woods PGA Tour 14, so this does feel like a rather empty reason for the game to be so lacking in content. Let’s hope that the next game in the series will offer both a brilliant round of golf as well as the return of many of the options from previous games as opposed to it being only a brilliant round of golf that lacks substance in other areas in the way that this game does.