Rory McIlroy PGA Tour Golf Review (Xbox One)
Rory McIlroy is the new face of EA SPORTS PGA Tour Golf. Out with the old and in with the new. It’s also the first time the series has used EA’s Frostbite engine, the same one that powers the Battlefield franchise. Surely it’s all good then?
One of the great features of the past was the create your own golfer feature. Using EA’s Gameface mechanic you could make a pretty accurate representation of yourself. Or using the fine tune customisation controls that only the Sims could better, you could create any character that you dreamed up. You would then take them into career mode or online to show off to friends/random strangers. In Rory McIlroy however, you are limited to a handful of preset faces and minimal customisation options. As creating your character is one of the first thing many gamers will do, Rory McIlroy PGA Tour hits a bogey off the first tee.
Taking on the career mode is how you will improve your characters stats. Every shot you play has the potential to increase your XP by hitting fairways and greens in regulation, holing out or even making a nice recovery shot. In career mode there are two ways to play your rounds; full or quick. Full lets you play all 18 holes of every day of the tournament (provided you make the cut), while Quick rounds gives you a selection of the holes to play on each day. This makes for a faster career progression, and the selection changes from day to day, as well as giving you more holes to play in the later rounds. You can switch between each setting even between rounds, allowing you to play the full 18 of the courses you like while almost skipping through the ones you don’t. A birdie on the par 5.
One of the good points of the character customisation feature is that you get to select different outfits for each day of a tournament. Want to put that pink T-shirt on just for Sunday? Sure thing! As your golfer level increases you unlock new apparel items to equip. You will also unlock better equipment and attribute boosts as you level up, each giving a further bonus to your stats. In other words, as you get better, you get better things to make you better than the better that you just became. Another birdie here.
On the course is where the game uses the power of the Frostbite engine. Gone are the loading screens between holes as the whole course is now loaded in all it’s glory. Not only can you see the whole course around you, it’s even playable. Want to use the 6th fairway from the 13th tee at St Andrews like the pros do? Go ahead! The visual style is very true to EA PGA Tour games of the past, which almost holds the game back if you compare it to other recent Golf Simulators such as The Golf Club. Par on this hole.
In addition to career mode there are also options to play a single round with up to four golfers. You control all the golfers, so this is ideal as a pass and play couch multiplayer experience. For a challenge you can also head into the “NightClub.” In here you will find a series of specific challenges that are mostly based around hitting some form of target. Nice for a bit of variety, but not likely to keep you engaged for that long. At least the traditional old man golfer makes an appearance in here. A boring bogey here.
Of course EA thought they would be clever when they announced that PGA TOUR would use the Frostbite engine. They raised the announcement to the next level by also announcing that there would be a course based on a Battlefield map. Quite an interesting idea. The truth? 18 par threes that just don’t excite. There’s a challenge there for sure, but this ain’t crazy golf. Smashing this ball through the battleships windows. I don’t care what score it gets me.
Moving onto the back nine and heading online. Good luck. Several bugs plague the online modes. While the game boasts that you can see the other golfers you are playing with online taking their shots in (almost) real time, quite often you might find your own golfer completely missing! They will be there, and you can take your shot, but the game just fails to render the golfer. You can also set up to three custom game settings in the general settings. There are reports, however, that doing so will just cause these setting to reset every time you try to change them. This one in particular is a real shame, because the choice of gameplay settings and styles really allow you to fine tune how you want to play the game. I have also witnessed the game coming up with a “time limit exceeded” message while you are mid swing. More frustrating that the swing was an easy par put, but instead I ended up with a double bogey. Well Rory McIlroy, you can have a double bogey too for your bugs.
EA SPORTS PGA Tour games have always done well with their broadcasting presentation style. It was one issue I had with The Golf Club, that it felt very lonely. You certainly don’t have that here. The American commentary is actually pretty good and not all that repetitive, though it would be nice for some localisation for UK/Europe. Us Scots invented the game after all! Is FIFA the only game that EA SPORTS actually caters for this side of the pond? And then there are the crowds. They make a lot of noise, more than they should for the amount of them. And that one guy that seems to shout “Get in the hole” with every shot you take, even a tee shot on a par 5? Can someone from security escort him away please? He made us shoot out-of-bounds here, triple bogey!
Now I remember why I stopped playing Tiger Woods PGA TOUR Golf games. Sorry Rory.
5 over par (out of 10)