Rory McIlroy PGA Tour Impressions

by
Posted July 11th, 2015 at 10:15 am

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The inevitability of having to move on from Tiger Woods after such a long relationship put EA Sports in a position where they felt it necessary to take the rebooted PGA Tour series in a totally different direction. Rory McIlroy PGA Tour has aimed at appealing to a more “casual” consumer. Gone are healthy lineups of licensed courses and golfers, and nods to history of the sport. In their place are arcade-elements like fantasy courses and over-the-top mini-games.

Over two years have passed since Tiger Woods PGA Tour 14, and the new McIlroy title comes up short compared to that game in most every area that matters. 

As a product, Tiger 14 offered significantly more content, all of which was far more compelling than what’s found in McIlroy, which feels barren and dull in comparison. It’s a struggle to find things that McIlroy does better.

To its credit, the courses included in McIlroy look spectacular, and the presentation of them is fantastic. There’s some graphical blur and pop-in but otherwise the game looks nice despite appearing to be sub-1080p. The commentary is an improvement, though inaccurate at times, and the crowd sounds are decent though not always responsive at the right moments. The crowd looks good, is active, and you even see them applauding and walking around.

The Prologue, which is essentially a guided tour through big moments of the US Open by McIlroy, ends up being the most interesting aspect of the game and that’s over after 20 minutes. Features one would hope for and expect, like tiebreaker playoffs and replay functionality, are absent. Instead some questionable design decisions have been made.

Career Mode is very basic. There isn’t even a calendar you can view of upcoming events. Maybe that’s to hide that the lack of courses will make the mode stale fairly quickly. Adding in the “Quick Rounds” feature, which is defaulted on and already has people confused and wondering why they can only play a few holes each round, only compounds that concern.

There are merits in allowing people to play through rounds quicker and certainly many people will appreciate the ability to do so. However it really creates a detached feeling, only playing 4-5 holes per round, and the sense of potential accomplishment vanishes along with it. At least it’s only an option but EA should have given people the choice up-front, similar to what they’ve done with the “Gameplay Styles”, rather than making it the default way to play in Career.

Then there’s the pathetic create-a-golfer system. In a game that puts so much weight on playing with a created golfer, inherently due to the make-up of the game and the thin roster of licensed golfers, it’s really unacceptable. It’s also worth noting there is no “GameFace” type feature, which bizarrely was prioritized for NBA Live instead.

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One thing that works in McIlroy is the offering of three different “Gameplay Styles”. Other sports games would be wise to offer various ways to play that may be more accommodating to different people. The three offer different approaches that span from the “arcade” to the more “sim” – though the sim Tour style is still fairly easy to pick up and play. It seems that no matter how badly the shot stroke is mangled, the shot will go straight, it’s just a question of distance. Putting and getting out of precarious positions presents the extent of the challenge.

The lack of loading time between holes (which The Golf Club has too) was touted heavily in promotion. Undoubtedly it’s a benefit to the new game but loading times into the courses are lengthy, and menu navigation is unresponsive and frustratingly laggy.

I’m not against mini-games. I actually think they have a place within all sports games, even the sim-centric ones. They can be used as a teaching tool where people improve skills through the process that can then be applied to the actual games. The Night Club Challenge though is more of its own thing. It’s not going to help people in a way that translates to the normal golfing. It feels like something you’d play on your phone.

The Night Club Challenge has some appeal despite that and is mildly fun – some will probably find it to be more and that’s especially true of completionists and those who enjoy the challenge of topping previously held high scores. The mode is boring at first but after a few challenges it starts to become more interesting. That’s when boosts start getting introduced and even elements like portals make their way in. I’ve gone through 24 of the 62 on Wolf Creek so far and there are still Paracel Storm and Coyote Falls to unlock along the way.

EA decided to introduce a new element into Online Play by rendering the other players onto the course along with you. In theory it sounds interesting but in practice it’s a dismal failure. Those players appear out of thin air and then vanish. They’re nothing more than a distraction. It was actually better in the past when you’d see their shot arcs instead. Online matches also have no commentary or crowd noise, making it a completely empty experience and a bore to play. Potentially it could be better with groups of friends who are chatting on mic together but that’s the only scenario where it would be passable.

What EA Sports has delivered with Rory McIlroy PGA Tour is a game that doesn’t have enough content to justify its price at launch, and what it does have won’t resonate strongly with either the “sim” or “casual” crowd. EA has made mistakes with some other games in the past where they try and go this route of angling for ways to market a “sim” series to a “casual” audience. The results have been products that have no true identity, disappoint in sales, and are quickly forgotten. It would seem unlikely that McIlroy will avoid that same fate.

  • Keith.

    As if only 8 courses wasn’t embarrassing enough, 2 years of development and Tiburon could only hit 720p? SMH

    Meanwhile, HB Studios continues to add to TGC with a July update (details below). Thank God for competition.

    “Hi guys,
    As Sony have passed both European and North American versions of the July update, I’m going to release them now.
    As you guys had to wait longer for the DLC than the Xbox owners, it’s only fair 🙂
    Below is a list of the fixes, improvements, etc

    NEW FEATURES
    * Highland Theme
    * New Flags to choose from in Greg Norman Course Designer
    * Ability to favourite replays and watch later
    * Choice between Metric and imperial measurements
    * Heavy Rough slider
    * Stableford Tournaments
    * New Backdrops for themes
    * New Trees
    * Added separate green and fairway firmness sliders
    * Adjustable Cart Path widths
    * Advanced Search Filter on Course list
    * Sliders to reduce randomly generated objects like Rocks
    * Some new global plants
    * Distance Tool (Measuring Tape)

    IMPROVEMENTS
    * rain on water splash effect
    * Small Optimisations
    * Better colliders on stones and rocks
    * Drop Ball Improvements
    * Tournament Wind improvements (So that directions is also taken into account

    BUG FIXES
    * Over 150 including
    * Flag Marker overlapping the wind marker
    * HUD Overlapping
    * Ghost Ball Wind issues”

    • cubs223425

      Of course, if I want to go play a season in TGC, I have to go spend an extra $10. It’s irritating that I paid a higher price at launch ($35), and I’m expected to then go pay ANOTHER $10 to get a Seasons mode that is really shallow anyway, even next to a watered-down EA Career mode. Had I waited for the physical CE at Best Buy to launch, I could have picked it up for $32 with GCU, less than I paid for the base digital title, and I’d have gotten the paid game mode.

      We’re almost to the 11-month mark with TGC, and we’re not even allowed to have custom clubs of any kind. While the game has a great core, and it fits well as a pure sim that wants to rely solely on player skill, it’s a very shallow game. The visuals are putrid–I man, you’re on EA for not hitting 1080p, but TGC is 720p/30 FPS on Xbox One with those visuals. They don’t even let you choose things like if you want to wear a hat (I don’t when I golf) or if you want to go without a glove (I don’t wear one of those, either).

      We can all dog EA for its content issues, and they’re justified. But that list of updates kind of looks like they spent a year adding physics things (and others) that Rory’s going to launch with. I mean, is it really worth bragging that the water now splashes? Varied green and fairway firmness/physics? EA lacks content, but they’ve promised some degree of improvements on that, for what it’s worth. TGC is missing SO MUCH polish, and in a game like golf, visuals can really matter; it’s not a fast-paced game where you lack the time to stare at your surrounding and appreciate them.

      • Keith.

        If you don’t want to spring for Season mode, just head over to tgctours.com. And I’m on PS4, but I thought TGC on XBone was upped to 900p awhile back.

        • cubs223425

          They might have upped the resolution, but I think it was 720p at launch. Even if it’s now 900p, it doesn’t matter. I care much less about the resolution and more about visual quality, and TGC’s visuals are just bad. I’m far from a graphics junkie, and I generally am fine with whatever, but these graphics are just plain ugly.

          Also, I tried TGCT a month or two ago. It’s kind of pointless, IMO. It’s impersonal and a little bit of a chore. I’d much prefer a true RPG career mode.

          • Keith.

            I can only speak to PS4, but the graphics are FAR from ugly.

            As for tgctours.com, they’ve made a LOT of improvements and added functionalities in the past few months — might want to check it out again.

          • cubs223425

            You’re kidding, right? The varied rough is barely noticeable, except in more-extreme cases. The golf ball’s not totally round. The foliage lacks depth. The sand has no real physics/effects, from a visual standpoint.

          • bltzkrieg666

            Stop wasting your time talking to this knucklehead. All you need to know about Keith (KRUK) is that he hates anything and everything about EA. Its really funny and quite disturbing at the same time. He whines about Madden, He whines about NBA Live. He whines about Rory McIlroy. Its a never ending process with him. Mind you, he doesn’t even play any of these games. He just snipes from the sidelines like the butt hurt EA hater he is. He’s probably a terminated ex employee of EA. I am surprised he isn’t bringing up stock quotes yet, or VG Chartz numbers……SMH….. Dudes a clown. Enjoy your game and don’t listen to salty losers like him.

          • Keith.

            Here’s a video of me playing the new Equinox Club course today, which I believe uses the new Harvest Theme. Graphics look plenty good to me.

            http://www.twitch.tv/gthobbes/b/677663293?t=07s

      • Just a guy

        It’s funny that you’re complaining about spending $45 whole dollars on TGC when Rory is $60 unless you’re an Amazon Prime member. If you’re really concerned with spending $13 extra than you would now, I suggest you find a hobby that is less “expensive” than video games. Either that, or never, ever buy games at launch.

        • cubs223425

          Well, or if you’re a Best Buy GCU member, where new games are 20% off. $48 for a full-on, RPG-like Career mode, or $45 for what I imagine is just a tied-together list of “tournaments,” where there isn’t anything meaningful to progress towards in them.

    • bltzkrieg666

      Kodosky is at it again. Don’t you have some ambulances to chase.

    • bltzkrieg666

      Kodosky, why are you posting BS on TGC on a RORY Thread. Don’t you have better things to do then troll on EA game threads. Seriously dude, you call yourself a lawyer and you act like such a juvenile.

  • MoneyMayweather

    I like the game but There’s just isn’t enough courses to justify the 60 bucks.

    • Religiondoesntmakesensebro

      Pretty much how I feel about it. Fortunately, for me, the $ isn’t a big deal so I’ll buy it but I’m pretty disappointed in the effort EA put into this game. After all this time on the new system they couldn’t come up with more features/courses/players???????? There are so many up and coming golfers and they could only find 8?!?!?!?!?!? Seriously, were there any ACTUAL golfers or golf fans in the room when this game was being developed? I’d love to have a Q&A with the people that put this game together.

  • Brad Owen

    I completely echo your thoughts Bryan. Id give the visuals and commentary a tick, the rest a big MEH. I was excited that the 3 click swing was coming back only to find its laggy and pretty much unusable. I’ve played the EA series since the beggining, TW 96 and even before that with the PGA games on the genesis (my golf gaming started with links 386 and jack Nicklaus golf) and to me this just does not cut it to be a full priced title. Thank god for EA access saving me from buying this let down

  • If you look closely at the top image you can see Tiger fading into the sunset.

  • jesse

    So no alt shot, match play, skins, or anything of real fun? Is a little alt shot to much to ask for with rorry and the golf club

  • jesse

    Can Anybody PLease give us Alt shot! That’s all my tiger woods online buddys want and talk about

  • BravesFan24

    Another once-great series killed by questionable decision making on EA’s part. The only good series they have now is FIFA, and even that is starting to lose some serious ground to PES. $60 for a game with such little content? You’re better off either sticking with TW PGA Tour 14 or getting The Golf Club for half the price.

    • cubs223425

      $40 isn’t half of $60, and if you get the $30 version, you can’t even play a season. If you use Best Buy’s GCU, the price difference for physical copies is $32 for TGC CE and $48 for RM, so definitely not a $30 gap.

      • To be fair, The Golf Club was available on XB1 recently for $11, and way back in December could be be bought for PS4 for $21. I suppose it’s fine to compare as launch prices, but if we’re just looking at *now* TGC could have been acquired for significantly cheaper.

        • cubs223425

          You can’t say “now” AND “could have been.” NOW, it’s $40 to get the full game, including the Seasons stuff. I mean, we know for a fact that Rory will be in EA’s Vault someday, but I don’t get to call it free with EA Access today.

          • Keith.

            How much is it going to cost to get EA’s “full game”? One day before release, and nobody knows.

        • bltzkrieg666

          TGC has no soul and that is what Cubs is saying. I have to agree. The game is an empty shell. Playing real golf is one thing but when you play it on a video game it needs to have more pomp and circumstance. TGC looks the part and the course editing is great for those who have the time but in a day where customers want authenticity this game doesn’t have it. No licensed equipment, golfers, courses, manufacturers etc. I would much rather have another Hot Shots Golf that knows what it is then a Sim Golf game that is missing too much.

      • Keith.

        A user named “Zalf” posted this over at OS today. If it’s season mode that you’re after, RM at launch doesn’t seem to offer anything meaningful (and certainly nothing special):

        “I passed the Web.com portion and wanted to check a couple of things in the mode I am most interested in. Withdrew from the start of each tournament to move through the seasons. I don’t think the withdrawals would impact any of the things I checked.

        – 16 tournaments a season including the FedEx Cup progressive playoffs(which I correctly did not qualify for.)

        – No special end of season wrap up

        – No option to change things like courses between seasons. Concerned on what that could mean for using new courses in career mode.

        – All 4 Majors are played at the same courses in year 1 and year 2. /sigh

        – No other tournaments changed courses or their spot in the schedule.

        – 16 tournaments. All in the same order and on the same courses year after year.

        – No additional stat tracking after going through either 1 or 2 seasons.”

  • Rebel

    How did they manage to ruin the create-a-golfer feature? That was always great, to the point EA would almost have to go out of their way to ruin it.

  • Masshole978

    Yeah, I’m in no rush to buy this now after playing the trial. Disappointing too..had high hopes for this. But like NHL 15, it just feels like things are missing.

  • Skihawks

    Was disappointed in this game. TW 12 was by far the best of EAs golf games. This game is thin on everything. Creating your golfer is as generic as it gets.

    I will play my 10 hours on the trial but this is a No Buy for me. If it shed some courses in lieu of a course creator I could handle it. The Golf Club is the better buy.

  • cepwin

    Well, I watched Shopmaster’s live stream and it looked fun. Now the lack of real courses and players is clearly an issue but I’m taking advantage of my prime membership and giving it a shot. I have heard that additional content will be coming so we’ll see. As discussed on Press Row Podcast, this could be their experiment with the game as service…not sure what to think about that.

  • wowgivemeabreak

    Too bad since I saw a video of a guy doing a round in the tour mode and it really looked nice and gave me a feel of tv style golf presentation with the crowds all over the place. Typical EA where they get the graphics and presentation down while butchering content.