Game Review Rory McIlroy PGA Tour PS4, Xbox One

Rory McIlroy PGA Tour

The game of hitting a small ball repeatedly gets a new hero.

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For those of you unfamiliar with the concept of G.O.L.F, let’s first explain G.O.L.F:

G.O.L.F. is a standing-up sport in which you have a lot of sticks carried by a lesser mortal in a bag as big or bigger than him/her and you have to choose one of those sticks to hit a small ball repeatedly until it gets in a hole.

G.O.L.F stands for Golf Olf Lf F and is one of the oldest games you can believe in.

Getting your small balls as far up the G.O.L.F arena towards their destiny proves to be a challenge due to perils like sand enemies, water demons, natural wind bastard and The Short Game.

In a world where previous G.O.L.F icon Tiger Woods has proven an unacceptable face of EA Sports’ ball-stick franchise because of terrible things he’s done, a replacement challenger must step up to the plate and bask in the glory of appearing on a plastic game box forever. And that new blood is living Edvard Munch painting Rory McIlroy who worried-faces his way across the golf fields with skilled finesse, making sure the balls he strikes with his leg-sized metal wand get right in holes.

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Given the rebrand, Rory McIlroy PGA Tour is called Rory McIlroy PGA Tour and often seems more like an advert for Rory McIlroy PGA Tour as your first few bouts are constantly interrupted by PGA Tour’s Rory McIlroy staring dead-eyed into the camera delivering commendable, but dull-as-fuck, insights into his life and philosophies. As a man whom genetics have afforded the gormless visage of a boy haunted by the dead, Rory McIlroy, god bless him, may be a keen G.O.L.F champ in this real life dimension, but in the digitised EA realm, he lacks the inherent star quality of celebrity morality-infidel and all-round creep Tiger Woods. And it’s a thought shared by the game’s vulturous commentators as they incessantly hark back to Mr. Woods’ reign on all the courses.

Regardless, soon you’re back to fucking skelping your wee ball right up the G.O.L.F paddocks and EA Sports’ prowess as ultimate ball-hitting simulation emperors is evident. With customisable swings and gameplay styles, there’s more emphasis on actually playing the rounds and overall realism, but the shaving of the chaff comes at the price of further customisation. Character customisation takes a hit removing the sniggering joy of crafting a G.O.L.F man or woman so indisputably grotesque that the concept of sport itself would have nightmares. In fact, loading times aside, the minimal no-frills package fails to take advantage of next-gen in general.

While there are excellently rendered green pitches to G.O.L.F up, and EA Sports’ reliable attention to detail in those curvaceous lumps is admirable, sometimes it just looks like shite. This is perfectly demonstrated by slow-mo tee shots you’ve administered perfectly that, in fact, show you didn’t even hit the ball at all.

Playing head to head online is a hit and miss affair, echoing the existentialist summary of a round of G.O.L.F. itself without any awareness of the symbolism. It just sometimes doesn’t work, and hard crashes the whole game, like your late 20s. A bunch of fun Night Tournaments that see you hit your ball to complete challenges on a neon-tinged course are welcome in a package that’s stripped back to such a degree only ultra fanatics will drain any long-lasting pleasure from it.

Still, when it comes to G.O.L.F as serious fodder, Rory McIlroy PGA Tour whips it right up the green bit. Ideally, we’d like to see Rory McIlroy flesh out his ability to communicate with restless spirits, and maybe some more power-ups like invincibility or Snooker Riot. Possibly because of its year out and lack of anything new, PGA Tour’s return to form seems more like a return to norm, and that’s quite a good line. Failing to utilise next-gen just leaves the series in a stagnant cryo-freeze where only the head of its mascot has changed like the interchangeable cranium of Walt Disney. The stripping back of character customisation and some shonky online play give it a budget feel that we’re not used to from the slickness of EA and it’s not one the series deserves. That said, with great courses and very magnificent G.O.L.F to play, it’s not quite a double bogey.

Rory McIlroy PGA Tour is available now for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.