Console Corner: Rory McIlroy PGA Tour review
New name, same great game but lack of depth and content is lame.
EA Sports’ legendary golf simulator has been rebranded and is back for the new generation of gaming.
Following former cover star Tiger Woods’ fall from grace both on and off the golf course and a subsequent year-long hiatus in the franchise, he has been replaced with the new kid on the block, Rory McIlroy.
The game has been rebuilt from scratch as part of the shift to eighth generation consoles, adopting EA’s Frostbite 3 engine to provide the ability to render more realistic environments and courses as a single map rather than individually.
Essentially, though, this is the same game with a new name, replacing the old world number one with the new one.
And it is difficult to argue against making any truly dramatic changes to the series given the success and popularity of what is one of the world’s biggest selling sports titles.
However, many of the changes have been for the worse.
The more you play the more the game feels like an extremely watered down version of Tiger Woods.
The Frostbite engine supposedly allows an entire course to be rendered all at once rather than on a hole-by-hole basis – reducing loading times.
The game looks good there’s no doubt. But in reality the graphics often stuttered as the different elements like grass loaded and popped randomly onto the screen. This may well be fixed with a patch in the coming days, though.
A great addition is the Prologue which teaches you the basics of gameplay while experiencing a thrilling final round taking control of McIlroy as he competes for the US Open Championship.
Interactive tutorials teach the basics of aiming, club selection, shot types, shot shaping, swing mechanics, putting and more.
Within this you will learn about the three unique gameplay styles, each of which have their own varying levels of challenge.
Unfortunately beyond that things go downhill quicker than Woods’ career.
The game itself is still very good compared to other gold simulators and reminds you why you have spent so many hours over the years playing the franchise.
But even playing through career mode it is blatantly obvious corners have been cut, and in this case the ball has landed in the water hazard.
The choice to build your character is frightening shallow. Grand Theft Auto V does a better job and golf is just a mini-game in that!
Playing through career mode you feel like the game is rushing you along in the fear that you might get bored. You don’t play a full 18, just a random stretch of holes and then it calculates the rest of your round and pushes you on to the next event.
One of my favourite new features is the Nightclub Challenge which is a brand new way to play and offers more than 170 challenges across three courses. It is a really arcadey mode with shot boosts and power-ups helping you tackle challenges to unlock new characters and equipment which you can use in the rest of the game as you progress.
But it does feel like a cheap gimmick to gloss over some big cracks.
I have spent the majority of my time so far desperately hoping that progressing my Pro Career as a golf teacher looking to earn his tour card would offer some true reward. Despite its glaring deficiencies, it is by far the most satisfying way to play and making your first birdie is still akin to some of the best gaming experiences around.
Unfortunately there is not much else to get excited about as a watered down roster and half the courses from the last game.
Generally EA know when they have a winning formula and although I think the switch to the Frostbite engine has been a gamble that was not worth the risk.
RMPGA Tour is a solid return to consoles but nothing more.
Version reviewed: PS4. Rating: 7/10.