No, not a golf pun that describes the numbers of courses in the latest PGA Tour game but it is a little indication of my level of skill on the golf course.
Unlike most of EA’s sports games, the PGA golf games aren’t on a yearly cycle. This is understandable really; developers perfected the gaming golf swing a long time ago and there isn’t really an awful lot that can be added to make each iteration seem different and new whilst retaining the golf feel. After a little break, the PGA series is back for its debut on the new generation of consoles. Along the way we have lost Tiger Woods but picked up Rory McIlroy in his place. Fortunately Rory doesn’t seem to be affected by his recent football related injury in the game… pffft, not very realistic is it?
The game starts you off with a tutorial if you wish. It’s familiar ground for PGA veterans but there is no harm in a reminder of how best to get the little ball to the little hole off in the distance. Tutorials tend to get a bit of criticism these days but I actually thought this one was very well done. The game takes you through the various types of shots and the factors you need to consider before taking your shot; for the newcomer, there is probably more to a game of golf than your realise. To put what you have learned into practice, you play out a scenario as Rory competing in the US Open. It is an interesting way to practice what you have learned and lets you subsequently wreck Rory’s chances of winning. You are also presented with some chit chat from the man himself as he discusses the importance of a good tee shot and shares some thoughts and feelings from his competition participation. It is a nice touch but I felt there was a little too much watching and not enough playing; Rory’s words of wisdom are not to be skipped, I did try. Many times.
And incase you can’t get enough of Rory, there is plenty of Rory trivia to read during loading. He’s all over this game, you’d think his name is on the cover.
The tutorial also allows you to sample the various control schemes and the offerings can cater for novices through to pros. I’ve always preferred the 3 click scheme where you press to start the swing, press at the top of the swing and press again to whack the ball. Using the analogue sticks is still an option and this is something I liked on the PS2 but as the sensitivity of these sticks has progressed it became clear I had issues with moving the stick back and forth in a straight line and I’ve stuck with the 3 click approach ever since.
It will all be very familiar to those who have partaken in a round or 2 in recent PGA games
. What is new however (or at least new to me, someone who didn’t play the last game) is the aiming arc. The pointer for where you ball will land is joined by a nice blue aiming arc. It sounds like nothing more than a visual nicety but it is useful, ever so useful. The pointer doesn’t take into account elevation, wind or the lie of your ball which are crucial factors to consider before swinging. The elevation arc on the other hand, takes these factors into account and gives a true picture of where your ball will lie. This was always one of my main grips in recent games; the travel distance of too many of my shots seemed inexplicable. Whether that was the fault of the game or with my understanding, it isn’t an issue now. Of course, this does make things a little easier, especially since the arc will take into account trees. At one point I got in a mild panic as I couldn’t see my arc; I had come to depend on my trusty blue friend more than I realised. A quick spin of the camera and there he was, stick in the trees. It does remove a bit of challenge in the game but the aiming arc is not a guarantee of where the ball will go, you still have to get the swing and power right to get the ball to follow the arc. And of course, if you’ve nailed the swing then you can simply turn the arc off.
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