Rory McIlroy PGA Tour Preview
Tiger’s out, Rory’s in. After Electronic Arts dropped perennial cover athlete Tiger Woods for the long-running PGA Tour franchise, they needed a new star. They found him in the world’s current #1 golfer. The freshly re-branded Rory McIlroy PGA Tour not only features a new front-man; it also boasts a series of gameplay improvements and additions. Plus, because it’ll only be available for PC and new consoles, EA’s competent Frostbite engine should deliver the most authentic, dynamic golf simulator yet. Even courses will play differently, and EA Tiburon is prepping a host of new modes and features.
Even though we don’t have a lot of gameplay footage, EA hasn’t been shy about sharing up-to-date details. For instance, they just recently announced the game’s second playable character: 2015 Masters champion Jordan Spieth. Currently confirmed courses include TPC Sawgrass, Royal Troon, and Wolf Cree. The developers also released plenty of great gameplay information and for me, it all begins with the swing mechanic. In the latest PGA Tour iteration, we’ll have three options: Arcade, Classic, and Tour. This immediately enhances the game’s accessibility, as Arcade and Classic aren’t overly demanding and are in fact throwbacks to the golden age of golf games.
In arcade, you use the analog swing mechanic, which is par for the course (pun intended) these days. Your backswing determines the power and swinging through will dictate accuracy. The big change here is that you can actually control the flight of the ball after it leaves your club; slick features like power boost, spin, and an aiming arc makes this a fun, undeniably entertaining option. However, there’s also Classic, which utilizes the old-school 3-click system. Remember that? You tap the button once to start the swing, a second time to set the power, and a third time for accuracy. This is what all you Hot Shots fans remember, and it might make your transition to PGA Tour that much easier.
Then there’s the Tour choice, which is strictly for the hardcore duffers. This “feels closest to the real thing,” according to EA: The length of your backswing and the speed of your follow-through sets the power, and your accuracy is determined by the right analog stick; you try to make as straight a line as possible. There are no freaky cool assists like spin, zoom, or aiming arc, so it’ll probably require plenty of practice. But for those seeking a true-blue virtual golf experience, it’s probably your only option. My favorite part about all this? You can customize your gameplay style. In other words, you can use the 3-click option and add mid-air spin, if you so choose. You can mix it up and tailor the mechanic exactly as you like, and that’s great.
Speaking of the Aiming Arc, this will account for wind, elevation, ball lie, and shot shaping, so it’s one of the most critical elements of the gameplay. This isn’t an entirely new idea but EA has worked to fine-tune and expand upon the concept. In regards to putting, we’ll have the familiar break grid on the green; speed and angle are the two primary considerations. This is another crucial part of the game; if the putting is too strict (or too lenient), it can really ruin the experience. I’m hoping EA Tiburon strikes a nice balance. If you get wild on the golf course and your ball strikes a hazard, you have authentic options: Take a drop in the designated drop zone or replay the ball from the previous spot; if it’s an unplayable lie, play your next shot from anywhere back on a line with the pin, behind the unplayable spot.
Rory McIlroy PGA Tour has all the makings for a wonderfully entertaining and highly authentic simulator. It seems like it has a little something for everyone and the additions and refinements will be much appreciated. They’re even tossing in women golfers and fresh online features. The game has been delayed until July 14 so EA can ensure the stability of those online features, and I’ve got zero problem whatsoever with that. Can’t wait to give this one a try!
4/24/2015 Ben Dutka