Game review: PGA Tour 2K21 (PS4)
If you’ve played a golf game in the last decade, you are going to be very familiar with PGA Tour 2K21.
Whilst PGA Tour 2K21 is the first to carry the 2K branding, the title has a rich and acclaimed heritage. Canadian developer HB Studios is no stranger to the PGA licence.
HB Studios were responsible for EA’s PGA Tour Golf games up until EA cancelled the long-running franchise and relinquished the PGA licence. The studio then went on to create The Golf Club and The Golf Club 2 before teaming up with 2K for The Golf Club 2019 Featuring PGA Tour. PGA Tour 2K21 continues that legacy.
The first thing that you need to do is select your golfer. Setting up your in-game avatar using MyPlayer is easy by using set templates, but if you like character customisation, you’ve got all the tools you need. As well as selecting physical features, there are branded and licenced clothes, outfits and equipment that can be purchased using the in-game currency.
Everything you do it the game earns XP and credits for the store. The game features a career mode as well as the opportunity to jump right into a round solo, local multiplayer or online. The career mode allows players to dive straight into the PGA Tour, or start at beginnings of their career. Q-School requires players to finish 50th or under in the final stage of the Korn Ferry Tour qualifying. Success in the Korn Ferry Tour will get players their PGA card and allow them to progress onto the Korn Ferry Tour Championship. Players can also jump into the final round of the Korn Ferry Tour Championship and go from there.
The developers have digitally mapped the PGA courses using drones to capture the topography. This would make them some of the most accurate digital golf course found in a game. The game features 15 licenced courses as well as another 24 official courses from HB Studios (for the moment). The game also features 15 pro PGA professionals for players to compete against.
As with The Golf Club games, PGA Tour comes complete with a course designer. This means players can design and play their own course, shaping the terrain, adding water, objects and even animals. Courses created by others can be downloaded, giving the game endless replayability.
Selecting a course for a quick round proved a bit problematic. It would seem that the game streams even the official courses from the Internet. I'm not sure what’s up with the 2K servers, but this took an unacceptable amount of time, in my mind.
PGA Tour 2K21 is relatively easy to get into and play. The game helps new players get to grips with the basics and pick up the subtleties of the game as they go. The result is a pleasant, leisurely experience that’s very rewarding - especially as you start seeing your bogies turn into eagles. The game will choose the best club for the shot, for beginners, but experience with have you picking your own club, as well as shaping and lofting shots.
As has been the norm in HB Studio’s golf games for many years, the left stick is used to aim the shot and the right stick the backswing and downswing. The shot strength depends on pulling the stick back to the mark of the displayed gauge and then forward, all the while keeping the stick movement straight and without hesitation. All in all, it is a pretty good physical translation of the stick movement to the swing.
For the most part, the visuals look good, there doesn’t seem to be much difference from The Golf Club 2019, if I’m honest. Whilst I’ve no complaints with the graphics, they could do with having better lighting and environment effects.
PGA Tour 2K21 offers players a good round of golf. The controls are intuitive and it’s easy to pick up and play, but offers incredible depth for those the want to perfect their game. It’s a great game for a bit of local couch co-op, even with friends that are not gamers. The licenced courses look very nice indeed. Whilst I’ve personally not the patience for the course designer, there are already some great user-designed courses to download and play, making for a lot of replay value.