|Release Date||August 20th, 2020|
**A copy of this game was provided to FYIG by 2K for review purposes**
It’s been a long time since we’ve had a true successor to EA’s PGA Tour series that went out with a whimper with Rory McIlroy PGA Tour. I was never really a golf fan but playing that series really gave me a better appreciation for the skill involved in the game and how difficult it is to master. I distinctly remember playing Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2004 for months on end. Now HB Studios, who gave us The Golf Club 2019, has teamed up with 2K Games and it looks like we have the framework for what will be a very successful golf series in years to come even if this year’s edition is a bit bare-bones.
PGA Tour 2K21 allows you to really dial in how you want the difficulty to be set up. I settled in on the medium “Pro-Am” setting because it felt like the perfect balance between a more arcade experience and a simulation. I was really impressed with the tutorial in the game which walked through the most basic things like just swinging your club to showing you what each type of club and shot does. It even showed how to use a draw or fade effectively to combat against windy conditions. I’ve played quite a few golf games over the past 20 years or so but if you haven’t you can easily pick this up and play it after about 10 minutes or learning the ropes. I feel like that’s incredibly important.
The MyPlayer creation tool is about what you’d expect. You can make your player look however you want although I don’t feel like there are as many options as other sports games out there. You can create a female golfer but there’s no option to play against all females in Career Mode so I feel like it’s still pretty short-sighted in that regard. I also find it weird that the 12 licensed pro golfers in the game are not playable. I don’t think I’ve ever heard of such a thing. At least you can play against them I guess.
The PGA Tour Career Mode left a lot to be desired for me, unfortunately. You can choose if you want to play between 1-4 rounds per tournament and I chose one round tournaments to cut down on the time it would take to get through them all. There were around 33 to play through and it took around 20-25 hours to do so. You gain XP as you play through your career but it is utterly pointless as it doesn’t actually do anything for your player. You can’t improve any skills or anything like that, you’re just a higher level. This is something that took a lot of fun out of playing through the career to me. It made it more of a grind than it needed to be.
You can sign up for performance-based sponsorship deals with some of the top brands in golf like TaylorMade, Adidas, or Callaway. This is where you can get some cool bonus items like a new club or a new cosmetic item for your character. It is worth noting you can also buy these items with the in-game money you get from leveling up (though it takes a long time to get enough to buy what you really want). These sponsorship deals were cool, however, the terms were always so random. I won the last 3 tournaments and the Adidas contract I signed had me getting in the Top 10 of one of the next 3 and getting a certain number of GIR and FIRs. That wasn’t exactly something that was matching my current performance.
The Rivals system within Career Mode is another one that just seems to exist without much reward or reasoning. You’re automatically assigned a rival, it doesn’t happen because of anything during gameplay or anything like that. You just roll through the roster and hopefully get the better of the rivalry with all of them. No cutscenes, no smack-talking, just a little addition to make Career Mode feel more fleshed out. I think the framework is there for this to be expanded on in later titles but I do wish there was more here because I was really underwhelmed.
The presentation in the game is generally pretty good. I really enjoyed the commentary from Rich Beem and Luke Elvy who did a fantastic job. I also enjoyed the replays from other golfers randomly in the middle of your round. This is something that I have been clamoring for in sports games since NHL ’95 on PC which had out of town highlights at intermission. It’s the same type of thing here and it makes you feel like you exist in a real golf universe rather than a game. The courses look pretty good except for the static nature of everything. The water, the trees, the crowd; none of it moves very much. It’s really odd to see a golf ball slice into a crowd of people that don’t move.
The great thing about PGA Tour 2K21 is that even though the Career Mode is pretty basic, the gameplay keeps you coming back because it’s as solid as any golf game has ever been. I find myself coming back every day to play a new tourney just because I enjoy the challenge of hitting that perfect shot or chipping it in from the rough. It’s an easy game to pick up but a tough game to master and I really like that fact. I had a ton of fun challenging myself on 50-foot putts or shots from the bunker and felt great satisfaction when I started sinking those tough shots. The fact that you can do it on 15 licensed courses along with some original ones helps a lot too.
Career Mode certainly isn’t the only mode either as you can play with up to 4 friends or even join in online societies and do your own tournaments. There’s even a revamped course creator for those creative types that want to make up their own crazy courses.
PGA Tour 2K21 is a great beginning to the partnership between the 2K label and The Golf Club. This game is well worth playing for the gameplay alone but online societies and the course creator will breathe new life into it over and over again. I’m excited to see how this series evolves from here.
|Great gameplay||Static crowd/water/trees|
|Online Societies||Basic Career Mode|