Review: PGA Tour 2K21 (PS4)


Platforms:

  • PlayStation 4
  • Xbox One
  • Nintendo Switch
  • Google Stadia
  • PC

Platform/Hardware Used:

  • PSN Download
  • PS4 Pro
  • 4K HDR

Extras:

  • DualShock 4 Required (1)
  • Move None
Title: PGA Tour 2K21
Format: Blu-ray Disc / PSN (11.83GB)
Release Date: August 21, 2020
Publisher: 2K Games
Developer: HB Studios
Original MSRP: $59.99 (USD)
ESRB Rating: E
A code for the game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

Gameplay:
I don’t play golf, but I have always had an affinity for video game golf. Dating all the way back to Golf on the Atari 2600, I have played just about every version of golf that has been offered in a video game format. During this current generation, the competitors were basically Sony’s Everybody’s Golf, Rory McIlroy PGA Tour from EA Sports, and The Golf Club. Developed by HB Studios, The Golf Club series brought the simulation aspects of the game front and center, while adding a Course Designer that was quite popular. 2K Games acquired the IP, and, with this iteration, has rebranded the game PGA Tour 2K21.

Upon starting up 2K21, you have to create your golfer. The creation tools available to you are pretty basic, and my avatar only somewhat looks like me. However, that’s not really a bid deal to me; your mileage may vary as to how important that aspect is to you. You can also set your golf bag up for the fourteen clubs you want to have in there. These are pretty standard at the start, but you earn currency throughout playing, which will enable you to buy clubs, as well as clothing, from the licensed manufacturers with different stats that may be to your liking.

You are then offered the opportunity to head into the tutorials. I skipped this section, because I have played the prior games in the series, but they offer good instruction for those unfamiliar with some of the mechanics (I took a look to see what they had to offer for purposes of the review).

Now that you have established your player, you can jump into the meat of the game: the Career Mode. You have a choice of how you want to start your career, with four available options. I chose to earn my PGA Tour Card from the lowest level, and quickly met the criteria to hit the links with the pros on the circuit.

When you reach the tour, the leaderboards are populated with several familiar names for golf enthusiasts, including Justin Thomas, Sergio Garcia, and ten others. During the season, you play on a mix of licensed courses and those created by the developers. While the Grand Slam tournaments are not represented, you will be able to play The Players Championship, and throughout the season be able to earn points to play for the FedEx Cup. In addition, you will create rivalries with your fellow pros, and your performance will be compared with theirs after each event. Once you reach a threshold with your rival, you “win” that rivalry and move onto another player, as well as gain valuable XP for your golfer.

The most important thing to discuss is how the actual golfing is in the game. In PGA Tour 2K21, you use the analog stick (you can chose which stick when setting your player up) to simulate the swing of a club. The speed with which you swing can affect whether your ball hooks or fades, and even if you feel like you executed perfectly, the game may sense otherwise, which can wreak havoc on you. Wind also plays a big factor in setting up your shot, and I have had the conditions really change the direction of the ball, to my chagrin. While I think I have learned to read the wind well, the swing timing is still a challenge, and seems more sensitive than in the last iteration of the game.

Of course, the other major part of the sport is your short game, or putting. Reading the green is done the same way it has been in so many other golf games. Dots or dashes flowing left or right, as well as north/south determine where you need to line up your shot, as well as how hard you need to hit it. 2K21 has added Putt Preview this year, which draws a line to show how your putt will travel, and you can adjust accordingly after seeing this. What I have found, much to my frustration at times, is that I will check the Putt Preview, adjust where I hit the ball, and watch the shot go exactly where it was lined up previously. I have had to two- and three-putt on some greens when I felt I had the initial shot lined up perfectly. Maybe it’s me, maybe it’s the game, but it feels like the latter.

What has made The Golf Club series stand out over the three previous editions is the Course Designer the game offers. I have never delved into this previously, so I was pleased to see how easy it was to use. You can begin by choosing from eleven themes, such as desert, tropical, harvest, etc.; I chose Swiss. From there, there are sliders for the terrain of the course, like the water level, hills, and other topographical features. The layout includes number of holes of the course, and the specifics of how many par 3s and 5s there are, in addition to fairway/green widths and bunkers. You can dive deeper and edit each hole to try to recreate your favorite course(s). This is a great feature that definitely makes PGA Tour 2K21, and The Golf Club series itself, stand out.

Visuals:
Clean, that’s the word I use to describe the visuals of PGA Tour 2K21. Golf is not a sport that lends itself to a lot of graphical flourishes. The courses look great, and the players do as well. The fans that line the courses are basic, and they just sort of stand around, but they don’t affect enjoyment nor appreciation in any way. Surrounding features, such as buildings and the like, only really show during transitions between holes, and they are fine. The most important visual feature is the way the fairways and greens read, and 2K21 is successful with that.

Audio:
Similar to the visuals, the audio presentation is not flashy. The sounds of golf are all in there, and are relatively authentic. The club striking the ball always gives me satisfaction. The music is very smooth jazz-ish, and is used sparingly, mostly in the menus. Then we have what is typically the most annoying part of any sports game, the announcers; PGA Tour 2K21 is no exception. While they do serve a purpose pre-hole, discussing how the hole lays out and such, once you tee off, tune them out. They become witty and redundant, and really don’t add much to the experience.

Online/Multiplayer:
PGA Tour 2K21 offers a few online choices. You can elect to go to Matchmaking and play random players, or create/join a Private Match to play with friends. My attempts to search for online games were unsuccessful, so I will have to abstain from making a judgement of the online features.

In addition, you can opt to join an Online Society (PS Nation has one!), where events can be scheduled for the members. Some of the societies require a fee to join, but that is paid in virtual currency that you earn by playing the game.

Also, you can publish the courses you create in Course Designer online.

Conclusion:
PGA Tour 2K21 is a strong addition to a series that, beginning with The Golf Club, has improved with each iteration. The game is a nice blend of golf aesthetics and video game mechanics, with some minor issues in swing timing and green reading. 2K has secured enough licensed courses and golfers to compensate for the lack of the Grand Slam events, and the Course Designer enables the talented user to go ahead and attempt to create those missing courses, and publish them online. If a standout golf sim is what you are looking for, you absolutely can do no wrong with PGA Tour 2K21.

Score:
8.0

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4.

Written by John Payant

John Payant

PlayStation Nation editor and writer. Been playing games for over forty years. Maybe someday I’ll actually be good.

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