It Don’t Mean A Thing If It Ain’t Got That Swing…

HIGH The courses, player animations, and commentary are all stunning.

LOW The analog swing stick mechanic is laggy and imprecise.

WTF The create-a-player suite would have to strive just to achieve “basic.”

This review of EA Sports PGA Tour was completed two weeks before I submitted it — I held out because EA Sports patched the title with a much-needed three-click swing mechanic. This addition didn’t turn EA’s latest golf sim into a “must-play” entry in its sporadic golf franchise, but it did make things slightly more accessible.

Regardless, fans of the classic EA Tiger Woods titles are in for a bit of an uphill climb. While certain arcade-like elements from those entries are present — particularly the post-swing “boost” mechanic that buys shots a few extra yards — EA Sports PGA Tour is heavily focused on the simulation aspects of golf, often at the expense of enjoyment.

Compared to 2K’s competing golf title, EA Sports PGA Tour definitely gets the nod for visuals. Once the game boots up, users will immediately notice undeniably stunning graphics. The courses are beautifully rendered with rich, green landscapes, lush textures, highly accurate courses, and water effects that border on photorealism. The lighting is also noteworthy, with the sun casting increasingly long shadows as a round progresses. The player models are equally beautiful, with accurate facial expressions, and no obvious glitching. While golf games may not require visuals to be engrossing, EA Sports PGA Tour’s graphics help immerse players in ways few competing titles have achieved.

The general presentation, on the other hand, suffers from a notable lack of vibrance. Golf has never been an over-the-top experience, but in Tiger’s EA heyday, there was at least some personality at hand. Here, EA opted to portray a lifelike golf broadcast, in all aspects. The menus and pre-round screens are functional and easily navigated, but also a bit dull, making career progression underwhelming.

Despite the muted presentation, the sound design and commentary are outstanding, replete with subtle environmental noises and brilliant commentary from actual Tour announcers. Some reviewers complained of repetition, but in my experience little redundancy was found. However, I suspect most users will likely mute the sounds in favor of their own soundtracks.

I should also note that EA Sports included a create-a-player suite, but most can probably skip this feature entirely. Other than a few body types and a smattering of head designs, there’s not much here that we haven’t seen 100 times before, seemingly 100 generations ago. And even if there was a more robust creation suite, the perfunctory Career Mode wouldn’t motivate gamers to pursue it, given its strict focus on events and advancement, and zero focus on the storylines behind the swings.

Since it was released, a common criticism of EA Sports PGA Tour has been the control scheme. It does feature an updated analog swing mechanic, but the slight lag from engaging the swing to striking the ball completely removed my sense of control. When reverting to the newly-added three-click arrangement, there was still a disconnect between my actions and those of my avatar. Even on the easiest difficulty settings, framing and executing a smooth shot is a chore. On higher difficulties, it’s nigh-impossible. Some may enjoy this level of challenge, but I imagine most would prefer a more responsive setup.

EA Sports PGA Tour offers several offline gameplay modes, including Career Mode, Quick Play, and Match Play. And since this is an EA Sports title, you can also expect “exciting” new features like “ShotLink Data” and “PureStrike” swings. I appreciate the marketing, but these features do little to benefit actual gameplay.

One exclusive worth noting is that EA Sports PGA Tour is the only place golf aficionados will find the four Major Tournaments and the FedEx Cup. The designers did a nice job giving these events a big ‘sports event’ feel, which adds considerably to the experience. Though the absence of names from the renegade LIV Golf Tour may upset longtime fans, most aren’t likely to jump ship for this reason alone.

Online, EA Sports PGA Tour is a mixed bag. The variety of modes including stroke play, match play, and alternate shot, is solid, as is the accurate matchmaking system. Additionally, the game features “Online Societies” and live events that offer a nice array of challenges and awards, bringing some unexpected excitement to the offerings. But despite these highlights, the already-laggy swing mechanic often becomes insufferable online, as does the spotty connectivity that booted me from more than one intense head-to-head matchup.

Videogame golf is in an interesting position. After years of not seeing any new entries, users are suddenly presented with two big-budget PGA titles fighting for their time. EA Sports PGA Tour certainly delivers a thorough, authentic golf simulation, but it’s also a divisive one. On one hand, the visuals of golf have never been displayed with more realism. On the other, the unresponsive mechanics completely removed me from the experience, ultimately driving me back to the simpler, more-playable 2K PGA Tour 2K23.

Score: 6.5

Disclosures: This game is published by EA Sports and developed by EA. It is available on XBO, XSX/S, PS4, PS5, and PC. This game was obtained via publisher and reviewed on the Xbox Series X. Approximately 11 hours of play were devoted to the single-player mode, and the game was not completed. Approximately 4 hours of play were dedicated to online multiplayer modes.

Parents: According to the ESRB, this game is rated E. This is a realistic representation of professional golf, with the focus lying solely on the sport. We encountered no objectionable dialogue, music, or themes.

Colorblind Modes: There are colorblind modes available in the Game Settings menu.

Deaf & Hard of Hearing Gamers: EA Sports PGA Tour features subtitles and numerous tactile feedback features within the controller, in all modes. The game is easily playable without sound and is fully accessible. Text cannot be resized or altered.

Remappable Controls: No, the game’s controls are not remappable.

Brad Bortone
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Sissy Kimmy
Sissy Kimmy
1 month ago

The commentators on this game are terrible constantly say rivalry between the players and pronouncing the word wrong. No matter where you aim you ball with or without the wind you ball goes so much further. The greens no matter the slope your ball rolls forever, even if you thing you have the angle correct you miss the hole. Very disappointed with the game. Picking your player the selection or men or women they look like bums, their hair looks all matted, poking up all different ways. On other sport games you pick a player that is an actual real… Read more »