Game Name: EA Sports Rory McIlroy PGA Tour
Platform(s): Xbox One, PlayStation 4
Publisher(s): EA Sports
Developer(s): EA Tiburon
Release Date: July 14th, 2015
Price: $59.99 ($53.99 with EA Access)
The last time we got an EA Sports PGA Tour game, it was March of 2013, and it was the final title to bear Tiger Woods’ name and likeness, as well as the last to be featured on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. EA Tiburon would then proceed to take a year’s hiatus before coming back with the newest PGA Tour video game, this time bearing name and likeness of the newest #1 golfer in the world, Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy.
EA Tiburon also decided to forgo the IGNITE engine used for its sports titles, instead opting for DICE’s Frostbite 3 engine, in order to offer no loading time by preloading the course as the game progress, offering seamless play between holes. With all these promises abound, is EA Sports Rory McIlroy PGA Tour the game golf fans have been waiting for? Let’s find out.
Upon booting up Rory McIlroy PGA Tour, you’re taken to a tutorial that helps gamers get acclimated to the three play styles, Arcade, which uses the Left Stick (LS) as your swing stick, and offers the opportunity to apply spin to the golf ball in mid-air, the classic 3-click meter, and Tour, which requires gamers to apply precise touch to the LS in both back-swing and follow-through. The former two play styles allow you to zoom in to your intended target, while the Tour style does not, giving you a feel of how it is to actually be out on the links. With the Arcade and Tour styles, on the lower left of your screen is a swing meter, which gives feedback on your swing. The Right Stick (RS) commands club placement on the ball, allowing you to change the arc and curve of the ball on hit.
Once the tutorial is over, this is where the fun begins. Select your play style and you’re immediately thrust into a match at the PGA Tour US Open Championship at Chambers Bay, with soundbites from Rory McIlroy throughout the match. The game gives you small hints to keep in mind while playing the hole, until it lets you work your way through the rest of the match.
Once the match is finished, you’re thrust into the main menu, where there are several different modes to play, including the brand new Night Club Challenge, which provides different challenges on fantasy courses when you simply want to relax from playing 18 holes, and a revamped Pro Career mode, where you take a created player through the PGA Tour.
Pro Career mode allows you to play as either a male or female golfer, and make your way through the US Open championships to become a PGA Legend. Online Head to Head pits you against up to 4 players in ranked and unranked play, and there are several daily and weekly tournaments to keep you busy as you play through the game.
Online Head to Head is pretty solid, as there is little lag during the matches, but you’ll have to wait to move to the next hole if your playing partner is taking their sweet time on the hole, which can get agitating.
This game looks nothing short of amazing. The Frostbite 3 engine certainly lives up to what it promises here, as courses are extremely vivid and detailed, as well as gameplay being extremely seamless through pre-rendering of the course as the game goes along. There is a bit of inaccuracy with the way the real-life golfers look, they aren’t completely off, but there is a little bit of an immaturity or youth to a lot of these players. The fantasy golfers don’t suffer from this same problem.
The motion capture of reactions and emotions are on point though, as the joy and anger of different situations permeates through the screen. I know I’ve gotten angry at certain misses, especially on putts, and my player also reflected that same anger. The NBC Golf Channel presentation is also a nice touch, much like EA Sports NHL series, but is simply cosmetic in nature, and adds nothing vital to the game, graphics wise.
The natural sounds of the golf course are definitely present. The rustling trees, the ball landing on the green or fairway, the rough, all of that is crisp and clear in this game, adding to the real feel of each individual course. The commentary of Rich Lerner and Frank Nobilo is also a welcome change, with extremely dynamic commentary based various situations. In Night Club Challenge, the music is a unique touch to the mode, setting the mood of a chilled out environment while going for the 3 stars for each challenge.
If the Pro Career mode doesn’t keep you, the online modes will. If they don’t the Night Club challenges will. There is certainly much to be said of the various game modes in Rory McIlroy PGA Tour that will keep you coming back for more. There are also different online modes for different play styles, so you can definitely keep working on your swing, no matter what play style you decide to master.
The only things that bugged me about the game, especially when going into a quick single player game, is the lack of courses, and lack of golfers. While there are 12 real life courses (one of which is a pre-order bonus), Augusta and the Masters will not be available due to an expired licence, but may be available as DLC in the future. There will also be 5 fantasy courses, one of which is based off the Grand Canyon and another based off of the Paracel Storm Battlefield map. Here’s hoping that more golfers are added as well, but it’s not too much of a takeaway from the game.
*Game Reviewed via 10 Hour EA Access Trial*
A Masterful Stroke, Indeed
Building Rory McIlroy PGA Tour from scratch was indeed the right thing to do for this franchise. It’s a fresh reboot of a wonderful series of games, and it doesn’t fail to deliver. The Frostbite engine may be the way to go for games like Madden or FIFA, considering how much of a success this experiment was. I think this game will definitely satisfy both golf fans and newbies to the sport.
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