Tag Archive: golf


Needs to repair some divots

Surprisingly, I have found an appreciation for golf as I’ve gotten older. Sure, I’m more likely to channel Jack Nicholson and swing a golf club at someone than to take it to the links. Now and again, though, I’ll tune into a major championship and see who is making a run. So, I was curious when Rory McIlroy PGA Tour arrived, the return of EA Sports’ long-running golf franchise, which skipped releasing an edition in 2014.

PGA Tour takes no time at all throwing you into a high-stakes, high-pressure situation with its new Prologue. Following cover boy Rory McIlroy down the stretch of his run for the 2014 Open championship, the game introduces you to its three control schemes as McIlroy himself explains how he handles golf’s biggest stages. Whether you choose the simulation-heavy method with no assists, the arcade style in which you can adjust your ball in mid-air, or the old-school three-click system to minimize the human element, each mode seemed as though it could cater to golf gamers of all experience levels.

The most impressive part of the control schemes probably comes from the customizable aspects, though. Since I preferred a hybrid arcade/three-click system, I crafted and saved a custom control set so I regularly landed on the greens. I loved that PGA Tour allowed me to contort its deep selection of controls to make even my ham-handed efforts more enjoyable.

Except for when it came to the short game.

Putting remains, even after all these years, my great nemesis, and additional assists would’ve been nice. While the current system remains similar to those from years past—showing the slope of the green, and the path one should hit the ball on—there’s no clear formula to figure out how to navigate each unique green and how much power to put behind a shot.

Nothing is more frustrating than sending the ball on a proper trajectory, only to have it to skip over the cup because you put too much oomph behind it, or for it to rim out because you shot it a hair to the left or right. If we can have sight lines when driving towards the green, I don’t see why we can’t have them on the greens themselves so we’re not making educated guesses all the time as to where our ball will go.

Putting woes aside, playing the optional Prologue was a great warm-up to re-introduce myself to the franchise. It also illustrated the power of Frostbite 3, since PGA Tour looks better than any golf game has a right to, with even the tiniest of details popping off the screen. The game’s improved ball physics offer more realistic bounces and ricochets, as well. Lastly, load times between holes are a thing of the past, coming now only between rounds of a tournament.

Sadly, players will find few modes after the Prologue. Most online modes have been trimmed to the bare minimum, reminding me of the difficult time the NHL series had coming to new-gen systems last year. The Country Club mode of years past, in which you could start your own online community, has been nixed and even rule modes such as Skins or Battle Golf have been scrapped. Even many of the courses and golfers of years past, including legendary golfers and those that appear on the LPGA, have been entirely removed from the game for unknown reasons. Only stroke and match play remain, online or locally. At the very least, the servers seemed quick and steady when I played.

The newly added Golf Club mode lessens the blow of these losses, but not enough to save the game as a whole. With zany golf balls that can stick to a surface or be remotely controlled through obstacles, Golf Club provides a nice change of pace from your prototypical golf experience. Its 170 or so challenges make you think outside the tee box. Each challenge offers some replayability with three high scores to aim for, and takes place on crazy courses such as the Battlefield 4-inspired Paracel Storm course, which is chock full of par-3s. But this collection of mini-games can’t hide the fact that so many other features have been sacrificed in this year’s game.

In this version, designers have even cut too much from the Career Mode. I don’t mind that the amateur tournaments were removed in favor of putting you right on the tour, but players are at a distinct disadvantage when your created golfer starts at 60 overall but must compete against 80 and 90 overall golfers such as Rory McIlroy. The tournaments’ absence means you don’t have time to build up your golfer’s XP. If you’re cutting the pre-tournaments, at least start me at a 75 or so.

Beyond this, the mode has no substance. You have to play every tournament, unlike the pros who sometimes skip an event to rest before a major championship. The game doesn’t give you a calendar, so you can’t look ahead to figure out where you can make up points, if need be, in the FedEx Cup standings. All you get is some lifeless text-filled screens congratulating you before you’re off to the next tournament. Even the Create-a-Pro feature when you start your career has been scaled back, using template golfer bodies and faces in lieu of the body and face sculpting features of years past.

Rory McIlroy PGA Tour is a step forward for the franchise in some ways, but in many others it’s also a step back. EA Sports has had a difficult time transitioning so many annual franchises to new-gen hardware, but cutting out modes and features is never the way to go. No matter how good your game looks, appearances will never make up for a lack of content.

However, this year’s PGA Tour probably plays better in most areas than it did when Tiger Woods graced the cover. If you want a golf sim that plays solidly and shuffles you from hole-to-hole, PGA Tour will suffice. But if you’re looking for a golf game with substance, you’re better off grabbing a set of clubs and heading to your own local links.

Developer: EA Tiburon • Publisher: EA Sports • ESRB: E – Everyone • Release Date: 07.14.15
6.5
Rory McIlroy PGA Tour plays better in many ways than when Tiger Woods graced the cover, but the removal of so many modes and continuous shortcomings with the short game make this a disappointing debut on new-gen hardware.
The Good Looks better than any golf game needs to. Multiple control schemes and great physics.
The Bad Short game comes up, well, short. Less content than when Tiger Woods was on the cover.
The Ugly The controller I broke after just missing so many par putts.
Rory McIlroy PGA Tour is available on Xbox One and PS4. Primary version reviewed was for Xbox One. Review code was provided by EA Sports for the benefit of this review.

Originally Published: November 9, 2010, on ClassicGameRoom.com

As a part of CGR Undertow, I reviewed John Daly’s Prostroke Golf for the PS3.

Putt Precision Perfection

Originally Published: June 22, 2009, on 1050ESPN.com (now ESPNNewYork.com), Lundberg.me, and Examiner.com

Right off the bat I’m going to admit that I’m not a golf aficionado to say the very least. In honor, though, of the conclusion of the U.S. Open, especially since it is being played in nearby Bethpage Golf Course in Farmingdale, NY, I am taking this time to review EA Sports’ Tiger Woods PGA Tour 10.

I sheepishly admit that I got addicted to this game for the entire weekend and for someone with as many games as I have to play, to devote an entire weekend to one game, shows how good this game is. It’s not going to dazzle you with graphics, but I think this is easily the best simulation for a sport there is right now, from mimicking the difficulty of sinking a 10 foot putt to trying to play in the rain at Bethpage.

I found myself wanting to throw my controller after every missed putt like I was actually living it. And this was on only the first hole of the Buick Invitational. The new putt-precision system is a nice addition and does make it a little easier for amateurs like myself, but for you pros out there with Tiger, you can simply up the difficulty for that more classic feel.

The putt-precision system though does need a little tweaking. Allowing only one look at how your ball will track is a little frustrating and can actually up the pressure if you see that your current path will send the ball spiraling into the fringe if your corrections aren’t enough to sink the putt. One thing, though, that can really push the casual player away is how the consequences for squandering a putt opportunity, as opposed to a normal shot, are extremely harsh and unforgiving.

If you have the Wii, these problems are a little less noticeable since with the inclusion of the 1:1 Motion Plus sensor with the game, you can judge your shots with a little more accuracy than with the analog stick on a Xbox 360 or PS3 controller making this the first preferred sports game for the Wii, at this point in time. Add in the lack of processing power needed for the simple graphics (grass is grass, whether in 480i or 1080p) and the Wii might be the best buy of the bunch for this particular game.

Along with an extensive career mode, that will lead you through every major as you try to up your stats to near-Tiger levels and became a tour de force, the game now includes a Tournament Challenge mode. In this mode, you can relive some of the most impressive performances in tour history at some of the most famous courses from Bay Hill to Sawgrass to help you unlock new and better clubs and louder and more interesting clothing apparel.

Include live, online tournaments, mini-games, and plenty of other multi-player options; if you are a golf fan, this game is your dream come true. Even if not a golf fan, you’re going to have a good time and find yourself mildly addicted if you’re anywhere near as competitive as someone like me. Just don’t go smashing too many controllers.

The only real knock on the game is as with most sports games that the commentary gets tired very fast and Scott Van Pelt is tired to begin with so you might want to grab your iPod or put a CD on to cover up the droll ramblings. Other than that, this is an early front-runner for sports simulation of the year. Of course, that could change very quickly with Fight Night Round 4 coming out shortly.

Tiger Woods PGA Tour 10 is out now for all systems.

Ratings are based on a score of 1 to 10 with 10 being the highest.

Graphics: 8.0: There aren’t a lot of knocks here in terms of graphics, but it doesn’t exactly push any system’s threshold either. There are only so many ways to make grass look good, especially when not supporting 1080i or 1080p.

Audio: 6.0: A generic music playlist is disappointing considering the lineups EA usually compiles, but it is a golf game. Coupled with repetitive, dry commentary (even for golf) and the audio is a clear weakness for this game.

Plot/Plot Development: N/A: It’s a sports simulation…

Gameplay: 9.0: Although the putting is frustrating to say the least, I think that it adds a level of difficulty that you would only see if you were playing on a real course so I can forgive it. Even having people in the crowd reacting from some shots that slice astray was a nice touch to this spectacular sports simulation.

Replay Value: 10.0: If you like golf, you’ll keep coming back to this game over and over again until next year’s release. Mini-games, online play, an extensive career mode, and now the Tournament Challenge mode along with tons of unlockable content will keep every golfer happy for a long time.

Overall: 9.0: (not an average) The putting system can be frustrating at times and the game doesn’t exactly stimulate the senses. Of course, it’s not like there is any competition for golf games out there since EA has the monopoly on the field like with their Madden franchise. The gameplay, though, is what makes this game and if the game of golf is what gets you pumped up then you’ll be all set for another year as Tiger Woods PGA Tour 10 improves on their already high golf gaming standard.

-Ray Carsillo

Golf Clubs and Green Carpets

Originally published: September 16, 2008, on 1050ESPN.com (now ESPNNewYork.com)

For the Tiger Woods PGA Tour 09 World Premiere, I had a rare opportunity to talk with Tiger Woods’ golf coach, Hank Haney. Hank is also featured prominently in the game for when you need advice and he gave me some insight into how golf transitions into video games. Also, he gave me an update on Tiger’s condition and what we can expect from Tiger once he returns to PGA play.

Click here – To Listen to my interview with Tiger Wood’s coach Hank Haney.

I also was afforded a chance to play a demo of the game. My initial review of the game is an 8.5 out of 10. I had to dock points for a few things. First, the controls are extremely sensitive. If I was not concentrating on the joystick for the entire time I was swinging, I more often than not sliced the ball. I understand the need to have a sensitive controller, but for this game it was a detriment.

The only other thing about this game that bothered me was that once you mastered the controller, it became ridiculously easy. For anyone who has played golf knows how difficult it can be and I was dropping birdies left and right after warming up on the front 9.

Aside from these critiques, the game was solid. Graphics were clear, although you would imagine it would be hard not to be since most of the backgrounds are green. The audio was crisp, but then again there wasn’t much audio to worry about since it is a golf course. The motions look authentic and the players and courses were very accurate to real life.

I did not have a chance to get into the game that in-depth so I cannot give it a full review, but from what I saw, if you enjoy golf or want to get into golf, this is the game for you. Of course, being it is the ONLY golf game out there; you don’t have much choice in the matter either. There is no competition like a Vijay Singh PGA Tour 09 or something. Again, initial critiques give Tiger Woods PGA Tour 09 from EA Sports a 8.5 out of 10.