HB Studios is back with another game in The Golf Club series and this time they’re bringing a PGA Tour license. Find out what we thought in our The Golf Club 2019 Featuring PGA Tour Review!
|Release Date||August 28. 2018|
*A copy of this game was provided to FYIG by 2K Games for review purposes*
The first two games in the Golf Club series were capable golfing simulators, but they lacked a little bit of legitimacy. HB Studios and 2K Games have rectified that issue by grabbing the PGA Tour license to round out what was already a solid gameplay experience. The Golf Club 2019 is a definite step forward for the series while still leaving some room for improvement.
The Golf Club 2019 brings 6 real-world PGA courses to the game which is, admittedly, a pretty low number. These courses are part of the new PGA Tour Career Mode which fills out the rest of the schedule with fictional courses. The courses are very detailed and look a great deal like their real-life counterparts. I was actually surprised at just how good these courses look. The water ripples in the wind, sunlight peeks through the trees, and all the foliage looks lifelike. The whole atmosphere is great. The crowd is very vocal if you have a good or bad shot and react in the background as you sink a putt. You can even hear the birds chirping in the background as you tee off. It doesn’t feel like a closed off course, you can see the world around the course in the distance and it feels like everything is alive. That’s something I admire about this series as I felt like that something the EA Sports PGA series always lacked.
The depth of the PGA license is somewhat lacking. There are no player likenesses so you won’t be playing as any PGA Tour mainstays. With only 6 PGA course on tap, you’re also missing out on some great courses like St. Andrews. This makes the PGAT Tour Career Mode feel like it only carries the name with none of the perks. It’s not that the fictional courses are bad, it’s more that you expect more than a handful of courses with that license. It still manages to be a fun journey advancing through tours and building your skills as your progress to the top. The character creation suite is extremely deep in terms of how you can tweak your face and the colours of your hair. It’s nice to not be stuck with 10 presets of faces you would never use.
As you progress through a PGA Tour season, you can level up your player an unlock new customization options such as clubs and clothing items. In addition to those regular rewards, you can unlock sponsorship tiers which grant you related items after wins. These are pretty cool because you can win gear from real-world companies like Under Armour. This gave me a reason to keep playing over and over again. If that’s not enough, there’s also a Rivals system that tracks your progress against that of a fictional character so you’re always competing against someone. Most people will be happy to note that progression is not tied to your attributes so other players can’t drive the ball a longer distance than you just because they’re a higher level. There’s parity there.
I was surprised at how good the gameplay in The Golf Club 2019 really is. It’s the most natural golf video game that I’ve ever played. Your swing is heavily reliant on your tempo. It’s a delicate balance between making sure you hit the ball in a straight line (which can be difficult with the thumbstick) and with enough of a backswing to get it where you need it to go, but not too far. The thing that I absolutely love about this game is the ability to create your own shot. The game will choose a club for you and usually, it’s the best one available, but sometimes experimenting gives you the best results. You can manipulate your height, fade, power, and direction all at once to get the ball to go exactly where you want it to and it’s amazing how well it works. I don’t know how many times I’ve used draw or fade to get around trees. Even when you don’t quite hit your mark, it’s still fun to have all those options available to try.
Putting is an exercise in frustration, but that’s exactly the way it should be. The game allows you to see the undulation of the green and you have to make a judgment call on the speed and line that you want to use. If you’re wrong the ball could end up just as far away as it was. If you’re right, it’s pure joy sinking a 30-foot putt. You’re punished in general for misreading lies, the wind, and swinging poorly, but it never feels unfair. I never felt like it was the game’s fault for any bad shot, it was always something that I was doing wrong that I could learn to improve. That made the gameplay experience that much more rewarding.
One of the biggest draws to The Gold Club 2019 is the deep course creations tools available to all players. A simple interface allows you to add and tweak pretty much anything you’d like about your course. You can upload courses online and share them with the community. Being able to download a huge selection of unqiue courses definitely helps with the replayability. Societies Mode also makes a return from last year’s game. This is a mode where you and your friends can compete against other players’ ghosts in seasons that run for multiple weeks. It has a similar feel to an online PGA Tour. If that’s not enough, you can also play head to head in Skins and Alt-Shot as well as the standard Stroke and Match Play.
|Deep course creator||PGA Tour license isn’t used as well as it could be|
|Fantastic gameplay||Some weird animations|