Music suits the staid mood that comes with the game of golf, while the play-by-play commentary is very good indeed.
As far as golf games go, EA Sports PGA Tour is about as detailed and picturesque as it's possible to get. Impressive stuff.
While the swing simulation could benefit from being slightly more fluid, all in all, this is about as good a golf sim as we've seen in recent years.
A lack of customisation options aside, there's a fair number of modes, options, and features to delve into, and having all four majors is a huge plus.
A truncated list with few interesting tasks to speak of. Win all the majors, hit a drive over 400 yards, complete 18 holes without a bogey... Yada yada yada.
April 07, 2023
“Golf is a good walk spoiled” is a quote attributed to author Mark Twain, and given my own experiences with the sport in which you hit little dimply balls into a hole, it's hard to disagree. I'm rubbish at it. Thankfully, video game golf does away with the walking altogether, and the sense of desperation that comes with knocking a ball into long grass, only for it never to be seen again. EA Sports PGA Tour is Electronic Arts' first crack at a golf game since 2015's Rory McIlroy PGA Tour, and in the intervening eight years, not a great deal has changed. That said, this return to the links brings about refinement and polish, and is certainly a marked improvement over EA's previous effort.
EA Sports PGA Tour, by and large, keeps the series' fundamentals intact, with the same shot stick controls that have been part and parcel of EA's PGA games since the days when Tiger Woods graced the cover. You still mash a button to power up a drive, and, you can add spin to the ball as it sails through the air, again, by mashing a button while holding the direction in which you want it to pirouette. There's something comforting about the familiarity of PGA Tour, though you'd have thought that, by eschewing the yearly suffix in the title, that the game might be a complete reboot. It clearly isn't (not that it necessarily needs to be), but that doesn't mean there's nothing new.
Indeed, there are numerous 'back of the box' features in EA Sports PGA Tour, whether it's the use of ShotLink data for the game's 'Pure Strike' swings, or the 28 real-world courses that have been accurately replicated using LiDAR scanning tech. PGA Tour also purports to be the “exclusive home” of the four majors, and hence the only place where you can participate in The Masters, the US Open Championship, the Open Championship, and the PGA Championship, as well as being able to compete to win the prestigious FedExCup. The game feels comprehensive, then, although it is lacking in one or two departments: primarily, a dearth of customisation options – you won't find anything like PGA Tour 2K23's Course Designer here.
Starting up EA Sports PGA Tour's Career Mode, you can choose whether your custom golfer is male or female, and then pick from one of two body types – slim or not-quite-so-slim. That's it. There are a few generic heads to choose from, a smattering of hair options, and, then, any apparel you'd like to furnish your would-be champ with has to be purchased from the in-game store (using in-game currency or real cash). After completing two rounds of golf, I'd managed to earn myself a cap. Miserly rewards aside, Career Mode offers an enjoyable way to while away a few hours, although Challenges (including Career Coaching Challenges) are a great way to cut your golfing teeth and get to grips with the basics, before swinging into action.
Challenges run a whole gamut of requirements, from simple objectives like putting and driving to slightly more complicated stuff, like landing the ball on the green without fail five consecutive times, or completing a course's Par 3 holes without a single bogey. Other than a round via Quick Play (which supports standard Stroke Play, Match Play, Skins, Best Ball, Four Ball, Team Ball, Alternate Shots, Foursomes, and Team Alternative), alone or with friends, the Challenges mode's Coaching Academy is a great place to start. A vast selection of competitive online modes for up to 16 players, local couch multiplayer, and Tournaments round out EA Sports PGA Tour's generous selection of play options, making this every bit the full-blooded golf experience.
And while the presence of golfers who've been banned from the PGA Tour, having defected to the controversial Saudi-backed LIV Golf series - namely Abraham Ancer, Bryson DeChambeau, Brooks Koepka, Bubba Watson, Dustin Johnson, Harold Varner III, Ian Poulter, and Joaquin Niemann - is somewhat unusual, the roster hits most of the big golfing names, both male and female. EA Sports PGA Tour is a fairly impressive-looking game, too, its thirty golfing venues (28 real-life courses and two fantasy ones) meticulously recreated using EA's ubiquitous Frostbite engine. The presentation is also clean and crisp, nicely complemented by a decent commentary from Frank Nabilo, Rich Lerner et al.
Boasting a somewhat perfunctory, but nonetheless engaging, Career mode, replete with XP and skill upgrades to bolster your custom golfer's abilities; a set of Challenges offering quick golfing dalliances; and a well-rounded suite of multiplayer options, EA Sports PGA Tour is a welcome return for EA's dormant golf sim series, even if it is largely the same old golf game you know and love, albeit with a healthy dose of new-gen trimmings, eye-catching visuals, and a surfeit of nifty features. This is definitely something worth teeing off with, and certainly beats spoiling a good walk.