Rory McIlroy PGA Tour ’19 Review

Rory McIlroy PGA Tour ’19 Review

Last Updated on by Daniel Lawrence

With a new cover athlete and a rebuilt game engine, the EA Sports PGA Tour series returns after taking a year off. As a result, far too many concessions have been made in order to accommodate these changes, and with its flimsy career mode, the malnourished roster of licensed players and courses, and a glaring absence of fundamental game types, Rory McIlroy PGA Tour falls just short of being an enjoyable game.

This is a shame because Rory McIlroy’s PGA Tour started off well. The prologue that opens the game introduces the three new control systems very effectively. The player has the choice between a classic ‘three-click’ swing timer and three variations on a more contemporary analog thumbstick setup-one a simplified system augmented with arcade-style power boosting and aftertouch spin controls, the other a more realistic approach where most assists are turned off and the aim and velocity are more sensitively detected.

I particularly like how each of the three mechanics can be tailored to your own abilities; I ended up playing on the latter, more realistic setting, with the path aid enabled (because my short game is terrible).With this game, the player can decide their own handicap, as opposed to The Golf Club from 2014, which was unrelentingly focused on simulation.

Rory McIlroy PGA Tour '19 Review

In addition to the new Frostbite 3 engine-powered courses, you will also see the new course features, which look much better than the links of the last generation, even if some of the textures are flat and some features are placed around the ball’s path. The new open-world nature of each course also eliminates loading times between holes, and poorly placed shots can now be played from out of bounds instead of incurring a stroke penalty as before, which adds to the authenticity.

The cracks begin to show not long after the game begins an exciting race for first place in the dying stages of the US Open interspersed with insightful remarks from McIlroy himself. In comparison to previous-generation Tiger Woods games, Rory McIlroy PGA Tour has far fewer features.

Compared to Tiger Woods’ PGA Tour 14, this new game offers a quarter of the courses to play, a fraction of the players (the Legends and female LPGA players have been removed), and a create-a-player tool with a few preset templates. You will most certainly not look like you.

As soon as you enter career mode, things get even worse. The single-player experience is woefully undercooked. With amateur competitions gone, the steady rise to the PGA Tour is over. There is no option to earn extra XP by playing practice rounds prior to the tournament. There have been conditional objectives for fast-tracking your progress, such as winning a set number of tournaments each year.

Rather than show you what’s coming up beyond your next competition, you get shunted from one tournament to another. And if you win a tournament, you get a static, text-based congratulations message with no trophy room or indication of how much prize money you’ve actually won.

In fact, it’s telling that Career Mode defaults to a ‘quick round’ setting, reducing each tournament to just a few holes rather than the full four rounds of 18 holes; it’s almost as if the game expects you’ll want it done as quickly as possible.

In my opinion, if a professional career in golf were really so unrewarding and directionless, Rory McIlroy would have pursued a Masters’s in Accounting rather than Augusta.

The feature cull continues outside of the career mode. You can play with your friends both locally and online, but you can no longer start a country club to foster a sense of community. In addition to this, you are only able to play stroke play or match play both online and offline.

Rory McIlroy PGA Tour '19 Review

Is there an alternate mode such as Skins, Best Ball, Battle Golf, or Bingo Bango Bongo? Since Tiger Woods was still fresh-faced and free from scandal, what have been the standard features of the series? If you just aced that hole in one, you can simply forget about them since there is no longer an option to replay the round in-game.

In the PGA Tour experience, the only notable addition is the Night Club Challenge, a power-up-packed arcade mode that feels like it was designed with a mobile gaming audience in mind, down to the three-star score objectives for each hole. The game offers more than 170 challenges, as well as numerous Mario Golf-inspired add-ons such as nitrous boosts and portals. It might be fun to steer a ball through neon-lit checkpoints like a remote-controlled car, but it is not golf.

Pros Cons
There is a lot of fun to be had with the Night Club Challenge mini-games. There are no basic game modes.
The game is more approachable with a customizable control setup. As compared to previous games, there are significantly fewer licensed courses and players.
I had no interest in the career mode because it was featureless and uninspiring.

Conclusion

While the Rory McIlroy PGA Tour does a decent job out on the course, it just lacks too many of the series’ fundamentals to make it worthwhile for golf fans. A lot of concessions are expected when sports games span generations, but when considering the two-year wait for a game that’s only being released on current-gen hardware (and PC), the rampant slash and burn of its features is especially galling. In the end, EA Tiburon managed to create a golf game with plenty of holes, just not the kind that fans will enjoy. Prior to the release of Rory McIlroy’s PGA Tour, the tagline, “Golf without limitations,” seemed enticing. With everything this rebooted series has to offer, the message just comes off as sarcastic.