Personally, it’s been a very long time since I last played one of EA’s PGA Tour Golf titles, too long, in fact, but thankfully, Rory McIlroy PGA Tour Golf 15 looks set to change that, but will it offer enough to entice me back for more next year? Well, the initial signs do look rather promising, after all, it boasts the following; Frostbite 3 powered visuals, a selection of real and fantasy courses (though personally, I could do without the latter) and perhaps best of all, no loading times. I think it’s fair to say that I’m actually excited about it, but if you’re sitting on the fence wondering if you should invest in this year’s release, read on…
For one thing, this year’s effort is not simply another rehash of the same old game - like EA could be accused of throughout the last generation - but rather the team at EA Tiburon have started all over again from scratch to entirely reboot the series, so putting aside the vastly improved visuals and physics that the game is set to offer, what else does the game actually offer? Well, I’m glad you asked.
Players that found their way to the series during the PS2/Xbox era are far more likely to utilise the shot stick set-up, mimicking their pro’s swing by manipulating the right analogue stick, whilst real veterans are probably more used to the traditional three click system that came to the fore in the original PGA Tour Golf games on the Sega MegaDrive. Well, you’ll be glad to know that regardless of your play style, PGA Tour 15 has got you covered with three different modes of play, two of which incorporate the shot stick; Pro mode is for expert players only, it is likely to be the most rewarding way to play, but to grasp the fundamentals, let alone excel with it takes a hefty chunk of time, so it’s likely to appeal to only the most hardened of golf gaming fanatics. There is much simpler arcade version too, this takes the pain out of the game, but in doing so also makes the experience feel a bit hollow to me, which could be why I’ll likely stick with the three button set-up myself. It’s always felt like more of a balanced blend of realism and control, but then again that could just be me. Regardless though, EA are clearly after your hard earned money, and they’re not messing around, so fair play to then for trying to make the PGA Tour series as inclusive as it possibly can be by allowing the player to tailor their own playing experience.
In terms of courses, there can be no doubting that PGA Tour 15 is a bit of a let-down, with only eight courses shipping on disc, but given that the team have started from scratch, that is perhaps to be expected, but this disenchantment is further aggrandised by the fact that TPC Scottsdale is being offered as a pre-order incentive, which is a bit cheeky to say the least. The roster of courses at present is as such; Bay Hill, Chambers Bay, Royal Troon, St. Andrews, TPC Boston, PC Sawgrass and Wolf Creek, this list is further supplemented by an additional four fantasy courses, if that’s your cup of tea. To further upset returning players though, PGA Tour 15 starts out with a roster of just 12 real world pros, joining Rory McIlroy himself are; Jonas Blixt, Keegan Bradley, Jason Dufner, Rickie Fowler, Miguel Angel Jimenez, Martin Kaymer, Hunter Mahan, Ian Poulter, Patrick Rodgers, Brandt Snedeker and Jordan Spieth, though again, this is likely to be supplemented with additional players in due course.
The really interesting aspect of this latest iteration is the RPG-like character progression that is present, seeing players earn experience out on the course, allowing them to develop their novice player into one of the world’s best over time. Given the relative lack of content that is included (to put it in perspective the average number of courses in a last-gen Tiger Woods game was sixteen), this particular style will be key to securing long-term investment from players. Of course, I loved Actua Golf, and it only had two courses to play on, so the numbers may not be the most important thing, it really just boils down to how well it plays, and that is something that I for one am particularly keen to find out about.
Rory McIlroy PGA Tour Golf 15 is released on July 14th on Xbox One, PS4 and PC, so thankfully, that wait is going to be a short-lived one.