Rory Mcilroy Pga Tour may arguably be the most controversial golf video game of all-time. After a legendary run as Tiger Woods PGA Tour which included several 9 out of 10 ratings as well as award nominations, future Hall of Fame golfer Rory McIlroy took over as the heir of EA Sports golf.
When this happened, it was at the beginning of yet, another exciting era of gaming, as the PS4 and Xbox One were still new and fresh and EA was ready to tee it up with the new consoles. After a relatively explosive and controversial trailer was shown at E3 in 2014 featuring Ian Poulter hitting a tee shot over a battleship, the game became highly anticipated within the sports gaming world by both, people who loved and despised the trailer.
EA would then go completely cold on information on the game for months. Then finally, in March of 2015, there was an announcement on a Monday. I took my dog out for a walk, and couldn’t wait to get back to the crib to see what the “big announcement” was. It was Rory Mcilroy Pga Tour and I was surprised but not super surprised.
Initially, I thought they would just call it “EA Sports PGA Tour” but would instead go on to sign the four-time major champion. I also initially thought that, since they put good money and resources into signing McIlroy, that it would take away from development time, and sadly it seemed like that was the case.
The reason being was because they were slowly rolling out information, as if they were trying to make things stretch, knowing that they don’t have a lot of features, courses, etc to share. Sure enough, getting closer to release, we found out that the game was low in content as it approached the June release month.
They then pushed the date to July 14th which coincided with The Open Championship (British Open) so this was fitting for the most part. With the release pushed by a month, I for sure thought this meant that there was more content on the way but that wasn’t the case.
Playing the Game
Nonetheless, I was excited about the release of the game, as, at that time, it had been a couple of years since a PGA Tour game came out. I actually grabbed the game a week after release, and yes, I saw some of the nasty reviews and comments which EA kind of earned.
I didn’t care though, I still wanted to play the next-gen golfing game. After picking it up, I took care of some writing duties and popped the disc into my PS4. Of course, just having fired up the game for the first time, I was having a blast, firing away on courses like St. Andrews and Bay Hill.
I also played the controversial “extreme fantasy course” known as Paracel Storm, which is a map in one of the Battlefield games. This was the course featured in the E3 trailer.
It’s a par-3 course on all 18 holes, and with me being a junkie of par-3 courses, I was excited to tee it up. The course wasn’t really all that extreme, but it was a lot of fun to play, and it was virtually breathtaking.
I also played the fun, but tedious Nigh Club Challenge which featured 100’s of challenges between three courses; Wolf Creek, Paracel Storm and Coyote Falls, another one of the “extreme fantasy courses”. I put quite some time into completing the mode and unlocking the goodies that came with it (fantasy characters and some cool glow in the dark shirts are part of the rewards).
After completing it though, I never touched it again. It’s not a knock on the mode, it’s just that I didn’t see a purpose of playing it anymore, especially since you can play online against others on it, nor can you compete with global scores.
Career mode was also both fun and disappointing at the same time. Let’s start with the negatives and get those out of the way.
For starters, you have no idea what your next tournament will be as there is no schedule. Eventually, you get used to this, especially once you go through a couple of seasons, and know which tournaments are coming up anyway.
Another thing is that the game claims that has the deepest amount of apparel with franchise history which is 100% false. It’s likely the most limited out of all of the EA golf games. However, with that being said, there are enough clothing for me to feel relatively satisfied, and I can mix-n-match to my needs.
For the positive side of the things, I love the attribute system, as you can choose your own “attribute bonuses” and there is a lot you can mix-n-match with. Think of it like the archetypes in NBA 2K18. You can choose two of them that you feel will best fit your NBA star.
This is very similar, only, the Rory McIlroy PGA Tour came out two years before NBA 2K18 did. Also, with Rory, you can select up to four attribute bonuses (you start with two, but once you reach a certain level, you will be able to choose three, then eventually, four).
Want to hit it far and still be able to putt? You can do that. Want to be a pure putter? You can do that as well.
This is one of the amazing features that make Rory McIlroy PGA Tour stand out, even almost three years later. It’s always fun to play around with the bonuses, and see how your attributes turn out.
I’m not trying to turn this into a review (I already did that in 2016), but I am just trying to bring back some of the pros and cons of the game. In short, the game would eventually become a little boring for me after completing everything and unlocking everything (except the ruby ball, the holy grail of unlockables in the game. Darn you, ruby ball!).
However, I found my appreciation again for the game, and have been firing it up once again to tee it up on the links. Here’s why.
The reasons I still play and enjoy the game
Online play: Rory McIlroy PGA Tour isn’t my favorite golf game by any means, but it does feature a relatively fun and simple online experience that keeps me coming back. There have been games I’ve been apart of with three other virtual golfers have been fairly intense, with close scores all around.
There were even a couple of times where I’d get a crucial hole out on the ninth or 18th hole (ranked online is nine-hole play only) to either tie or win the match. The reason being is that playing ranked will bring the best out of everyone, but sadly for me, most of the time, I fail, as I do at life, as I can’t drain putts (curse you Oakmont).
Despite your score, an online round on Rory McIlroy PGA Tour is both a laid back and competitive experience at the same time, and I appreciate more as the game starts to age.
The Gameplay: Obviously, this undoubtedly is the most important thing for any game is to have some great gameplay, and Rory’s is very solid. Aesthetically, the swings look beautiful and professional, making your golfer feel like a boss and not some weirdo that you created (my guy is unforgivingly weird).
Hitting driver off the tee feels powerful. Not quite as satisfying as The Golf Club 2, but still, is a tasty dish that Rory McIlroy PGA Tour offers.
Iron swings and most notably, putting are also both very solid and the ball physics makes everything even better. The only flaw I notice with ball physics is how it sometimes stops on a dime on putts.
The ball could be rolling as if it’s going to go straight into the cup, only for to stop dead at the edge. Other than that, it’s top-notch, once again, not quite to the level of The Golf Club 2, but very good.
Playing on Arcade difficulty is always fun, as you can perform “Bose Big Hit Moments” on tee shots, making you hit the ball an insane distance. There are also the “Bose Heartbeat Moments” which occur when the ball is in mid-flight and looks like it has a chance of going in the hole (on rare occasions, it happens on long putts as well).
The gameplay alone is one big reason I come back to tee it up on Rory McIlroy PGA Tour. Being someone who enjoys Arcade difficulty (I love the other difficulties as well), the gameplay is quite satisfying.
The Graphics: Certainly one of the overlooked aspects of the game is the beautiful Frostbite 3 graphics. It was hyped up initially, especially being that it was the first EA Sports game to receive the Frostbite 3 engine treatment but some fans felt the graphics weren’t as good as expected.
To me personally, I think they look terrific. The texture of the fairways, greens, and grass alone are impressive, and even the clothing on the golfers look very realistic as well (golfers themselves are still slightly cartoony like in previous installments of the game).
Courses like St. Andrews, Royal Troon and Whistling Straits will take your breath away. As mentioned, Paracel Storm looks stunning as well, and then there’s Lighthouse Pointe, my personal favorite course in the game (fantasy course based in Maine that plays like a real course in-game) which is both, a joy to play, and is amazing to look at.
If you do pick up the game, try playing rounds at Lighthouse Pointe and Banff Springs with evening settings. You’re welcome.
PGA Tour License: Ahh yes, last but not least, the PGA Tour license. It’s fair to say that Rory McIlroy PGA Tour will go down as the last PGA Tour game that EA produced as they seemed to have ridden off into the sunset with their golf clubs.
The PGA Tour license isn’t necessary to make a great golf game, but it definitely makes it more intriguing. After watching a fun-filled tournament, I’m sure you’d have the itch to fire up an officially licensed PGA Tour game and tackle the same course that you saw the pros battle with.
Not to mention, hearing the in-game broadcasters (in this case, Rich Lerner and Frank Nobilo from Golf Channel who are slightly repetitive in-game) will make you feel as if you’re taking in the tourney again. The only difference is that you’re in complete control, as you try to capture a tour title or major championship.
The majors are an important added bonus. Although The Masters is no longer in the game, you still can capture three of the four, including the sport’s oldest, The Open Championship.
Having St. Andrews in the game again, and playing The Open is pretty cool, and with those graphics, it makes the experience that much more immersive. Certainly, after putting a lot of hours into the game over the last couple of years, the immersion fades a little bit but when you’re hungry for that major championship, you can play (almost) all of them in the game.
The PGA Tour license isn’t everything, but it’s always nice to feel closer to the professional game we love.
The Final Putt
Rory McIlroy PGA Tour may go down as EA Sports’ first golf game, but there are some gems hidden in the dirt that bring out a spark of its greatness. From the gameplay to the online play and attribute system, the game does have some positives, despite the low amount of content.
It’s a game I appreciate more as the EA PGA Tour series seems like it’s fading away for good, and there’s no doubt that the game’s value will rise, as long as it remains the only PGA Tour game on the market. Who knows, I may shelve the game for good once The Golf Club 2019 releases, but right now, the game still brings some enjoyment, even if it seems simple for a major golf game.
It may not have the greatness that Tiger Woods 2004, 2014 or The Golf Club series presents, but Rory McIlroy PGA Tour still plays the game well, and it is a game I still tend to play when I need that PGA Tour fix, despite the ghosts it may manifest.
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