With sport trying to resume after the Covid 19 pandemic, Golf is one of the games where you would imagine crowds would be allowed back to soon. It is also one sport that has always translated well into the world of gaming. PGA 2K21 continues that trend by bringing one of the most realistic simulations to console even if it is a bit familiar to fans of the developers previous efforts.
PGA Tour 2k21 is the first foray from 2K into the world of Golf this generation, building upon the existing engine of The Golf Club games developed by HB Studios.In fact, not much has changed from the other games except some cosmetic differences, the standard 2K in game currency and the career mode. The core game is a difficult, frustrating, but rewarding slog through life as an up and coming tour pro.
Unlike previous PGA games, through the Tiger Woods era and more recently the Rory McIlroy effort, the 2K version does very little to make the game easier. You can fiddle with multiple settings to show how much inaccuracies in your right stick swing affect the ball or how much the lie of the ball and other factors can ruin your game but it is honestly best to leave these as default as possible so you aren’t running away with tournaments and ruining the offline game.
It took me multiple efforts and tweaks to make the qualifying cut in the first tournament that even allows you to take part in a tour and by the time I did it I actually felt some sort of proficiency at the game, that is until I got to the next course and missed the cut again. I could have gone in and neutered the difficulty but there was something very satisfying about slowly improving as I failed and failed again. I even discovered that my problem was a slice and had to compensate for this with aiming further left and adding some shape to my drive. It was all very organic and realistic.
The main problem with the game, is a hangover from the developers previous games in the looks department. Compared to NBA 2K or other games from the publisher PGA 2K21 is the ugly one. It doesn’t have the issues and graphical glitches of WWE 2K games but it certainly is no star in the graphics department. It definitely is functionality over flashiness, with dull character models and few if any weather effects. Luckily this doesn’t affect the gameplay.
This is where PGA 2K12 excels. The gameplay makes me feel like I am on the golf course and one step away from wrapping a 7 iron around a tree. The exact same frustrations and problems you have on a real golf course translate perfectly into this game. It’s probably the reason that the series never had the following before 2K decided to publish it. It is too hard and too frustrating for the casual fan. It is an accurate simulation of a game I have tried and failed to be even competent at for years.
If I under hit a putt, it doesn’t go in, I snatch at it and it goes wide, drives need to be straight down the middle or else you are a shot behind on every hole. You need to be on point for every shot or else a miracle recovery shot from the trees will be your only hope of saving par. The greens are difficult and every factor that makes a difference at the top level makes a difference here. There’s no ridiculous draw, fade or spin shots to make up for your poor choice of club.
The main issue I have with the game is the price. For a first entry into the market, with a re-skin of a previous game, this shouldn’t be anywhere near the price it is. It is a good game, it does have longevity but there simply isn’t enough to warrant a full price release when the same game and engine has been out for a few years. If you haven’t played any of the others, then this is one to pick up when on sale. If you’ve played any of The Golf Club games, there’s no need to pick this up.