Saturday, 20 April 2024
HomeReviewsEA Sports PGA Tour review

EA Sports PGA Tour review

EA has returned to the golfing genre after a considerable absence. Can it regain the crown recently seized by the other PGA Tour game around - the one from 2K Games?

GamesLifer might earn an affiliate commission on any shopping links you find on the website, including on this page.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

EA was once the home of gaming golf, with a long-standing partnership with Tiger Woods and then Rory McIlroy being synonymous with the genre. But then, after the latest edition in 2015… nothing! The gig was seemingly up and Electronic Arts opted to focus its sporting attentions elsewhere.

In the meantime, another developer rose to fill the void, HB Studios – first with The Golf Club and then with the PGA Tour 2K series. And that was enough for us. After all, the partnership with 2K Games has blossomed into a healthy one for golf fans.


EA Sports PGA Tour

EA Sports PGA Tour is a triumphant return for the company’s golf games franchise. It focuses on the basics well, with ball physics and course rendering exemplary. The menu system is a bit of a faff, but we hope this is the start of another glorious run for the series.


Perhaps too healthy, as EA has returned with an attempt to retake its crown. It’s even also snagged the PGA Tour licence in the process. So, can it rival PGA Tour 2K23 on the course, or has its eight-year absence given the alternative too big a lead?

Par for the course

Well, the answer to that depends on what you’re looking for in a golf game. Both have their merits, with 2K’s offering having more customisation in play style, but it must be said that EA has done what it always does best – it has nailed it on the presentation.

Exclusive to current-gen consoles – PS5 and Xbox Series X/S – and decent gaming PCs, EA Sports PGA Tour is a mammoth game that uses the Frostbite Engine to up the ante when it comes to the visual presentation of real-world courses. The team used multiple methods to map, scan and chart the 30 included courses (and others yet to come), even gaining access to Augusta’s tree health software systems to accurately place every flowerbed and item of flora. And it shows. This is a stunning-looking game that you can ogle at as much as play.

That, combined with the use of the PGA Tour’s own ShotLink and TrackMan technologies ensure that ball animation is equally realistic. As too is player motion – with the included professionals and player-made golfers moving as well as ever – male or female. In short, it is a feast for the eyes – but how does it play?

Fore-play

EA Sports PGA Tour is more arcade than its main rival, with an easier control system to get to grips with and, perhaps, less precise swing mechanic. You use the left stick to swing the club back and forth, which is similar to PGA Tour 2K23 (albeit that uses the right stick by default), but there’s a wider margin for error it seems. Plus, as you level up your custom golfer and add skill points, the control method gets simpler still.

That doesn’t mean it lacks merits – in fact, it can be argued that its simplicity is of benefit to a wider audience. It is possible to change the difficulty in 2K23, of course, but from the off, EA Sports’ game feels more, well, game-y.

That allows you to hit the fairways without too much in the way of learning the ropes. There are tutorials and challenges you can undertake, but we found it reasonably simple and quick to just launch into a career.

In that sense, you can start out as an amateur golfer, qualifying for and playing your way through the Korn Ferry Tour before you head to the PGA Tour itself. The Amundi Evian Championship is also fully licensed for those taking on a female competitor. We also like that you can choose to just play important holes in each championship, rather than the full four days of 18. That way you can zip through the earlier parts of a career before entering the Tour for real.

We’re also keen on the new element added to this game (in comparison with older EA golf titles). Rather than clubs giving your golfer a skill boost – which was always a bit weird and unrealistic – some offer different shot types. This will expand the properties of a shot depending on the club and situation, which then gives you more customisation on the way you want to play.

In addition, different shot types will unlock based on your own skill tree and progression. It makes the game feel less rigid and more varied. Ultimately, when you become really good at it, you’ll probably still use the same array of shots throughout, but it’s the thought that counts.

Different strokes

There are plenty of other game modes too, with local quick play across multiple match types, online play, tournaments and the aforementioned challenges.

Those challenges are generally great fun and help you tweak and refine your play style. There are some that unlock sponsorship deals, and therefore clothes and clubs, while others replicate famous championship moments from yesterday. These will give you reward packs, although these also represent the one main feature of PGA Tour that’s less welcome.

Yep, this is an EA Sports game and therefore there are premium, paid-for shenanigans. Golf swings, ball effects, and in-game items can be bought with real cash. You can grind in-game coins to get them without spending anything from your actual pocket, but it’s obviously much, much harder to do so.

Still, most of the items on offer are aesthetic and none of them matter during gameplay, so it’s hard to focus on it too much. If it didn’t already cost close to £70, we wouldn’t be so bothered, but like FIFA and Madden, it never really sits right.

Verdict

Aside from the in-game purchasing, EA Sports PGA Tour is a welcome return to the fray for the company. It has everything good we remember from the Tiger Woods glory days and more.

The controls and play are simple enough, while the overall presentation is simply marvellous – there has been no better-looking golf game. Playing the career mode is also a joy, especially so thanks to curbing the amount of holes you play early doors. Basically, the ball is now in 2K’s court, or should we say on its tee.

Today’s best console deals

PlayStation 5

Get the full PS5 console with disc drive.

Xbox Series X

This is the powerhouse of the Xbox consoles.

Xbox Series S

Ideal way to get into current-gen gaming.

Nintendo Switch (OLED Model)

The best version of the Switch you can get.

Evercade EXP

A great handheld for retro gamers.

PlayStation VR2

Possibly the best VR headset around (needs PS5).

Rik Henderson
Rik Hendersonhttp://gameslifer.com
Rik is a professional journalist with more than 35 years experience across online, magazines and television broadcasting. As well as the creator of GamesLifer, he is the News Editor of T3.com, while his previous work includes stints as editor and group editor on several monthlies and weeklies covering video games and technology. He has also been a series producer on daily and weekly TV shows, and has presented and guested on multiple TV series too, including GamesMaster, Games World, Game Over, Virtual World of Sport, Live TV, Greatest Christmas TV Ads, and The Apprentice.
RELATED

Trending

EA Sports PGA Tour is a triumphant return for the company's golf games franchise. It focuses on the basics well, with ball physics and course rendering exemplary. The menu system is a bit of a faff, but we hope this is the start of another glorious run for the series.EA Sports PGA Tour review