When it arrived I couldn’t wait to get it on and hack my way around the old course at St Andrews after having just watched the Scottish Open. EA Sports have had a knack of giving us great golf games over the years and I fondly remember playing most versions of the Tiger Woods PGA Tour Golf. Admittedly I missed Tiger 14 which helped excite me more to try my first golf game on next gen.
At first glance it looked slick through opening credits etc and I noticed that EA had adopted the Frostbite 3 engine which would help provide the ability to render environments more realistically among other things, but as soon as the menus appeared, I noticed that clearly the game was missing some features that the previous Tiger titles held.
Rory McIlroy’s debut offering lets you get right into swinging through a straight solo player match where you can get to grips with any of the small offering of 8 rel world courses, or a Nightclub mode, a Pro Career mode and an ability to play an online multiplayer.
Within the career mode, a good addition in my view for the casual golf gamer, is that the AI hand picks important holes in that particular round based on your positioning on the leader board for you to actually play and simulates the rest based on the paltry attributes you have gained at this early stage of your golf career. This is an option that can also be turned off within the settings menu and will allow you to play all 18 holes if it takes your fancy.
Nightclub mode seems to have helped the franchise rediscover its sense of fun and enables you to embark on an arcade style golf outing where you are given a few fantasy courses to play individual holes, many of which were mini games in previous titles with boosters to be earned like sticky ball and ball boost, not to mention being asked to smash through floating target plates and portals, this mode is a more refined version of the EA mobile golf game that was released a while back which was fun, but this is much better. (Also, try the Battlefield inspired fantasy course here, which is the Parcel storm map reimagined as a golf course, explosive stuff)
Choose the online mode, and you will be given the chance to play either daily or weekly tournament modes as well as head-to-head matches against live opponents.
One of the best things in years gone by, was being able to try and recreate yourself within the player customisation section (which inevitebly ended up with me creating what looked like a WWE wrestling version of myself, nothing wrong with that.) This time out though, the customisation stakes are pretty low and you are not given a lot of options. Choices to modify face types, body types hairstyles etc are few and far between and even clothing, shoes and equipment are in short supply. This might seem insignificant if all you want to do is play a round at your favourite course but fans of the series will be disappointed. I know I was!
Now, onto the part where Rory gets his hole in one.
The gameplay, to me is excellent. PGA tour has three modes of control ranging from a simplified analogue swing to the classic three click method, made famous on the old Commodore Amiga’s PGA Tour Golf and also a more specific analogue swing method incorporating shot-shaping, draw and fade. The first derivative will suit casual golfers as will the second if not a bit old school, but the third mode is definitely where its at and offers the greater challenge around your 18 holes, all be it a more realistic test.
The game looks, feels and even sounds immense. The commentary offered by Frank Nobilo and Rich Lerner is very good and almost always relates correctly to your tournament and leaderboard position. The only problem I found in the looks department was the occasional pop-in of graphics during the course flyovers and a couple of angry looking wildlife critters who look like they are not too happy at you getting your pitch and putt on in their back garden, other than that the graphics are more sophisticated and EA have delivered the best looking golf game we’ve seen to date.
In the visual stakes, Roy McIlroy delivers. The fine detail is impressive with the vegetation, mud and sand looking incredibly real. One of the best things though is the course is now fully loaded thanks mainly to the frostbite engine, which removes loading times between holes and enables the player to get through a round much faster than before.
Rory McIlroy PGA Tour is a great golf simulation with plenty thrills along the way to encourage gamers to either start with this is their first outing or continue where they left off with their last Tiger Woods golf game, albeit in hope of some downloadable content along the way to beef it up a little, namely some courses to improve on the eight real world renderings packed with the game and an addition to play The Masters wouldn’t go a miss either.
Rory at the moment is quite rightly the number one golfer on the planet and it’s not hard to see why EA moved their attention to this Northern Irishman, and who knows, maybe next year his game will be as devastating on the consoles as he is on the course.
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