I learned about a ton of sports by playing games. Baseball, bowling, American football, ice hockey and of course, golfing. Everything I know, I got from playing games like PGA Tour 2K21.
It’s a weird way to learn to stuff, but hey, when stuff works why knock it right?
I also have a weird fascination with golf. I don’t like to go into the minutiae like picking out the best clubs to use for which hole, but I do like to smack me some balls.
…that came out wrong.
What I mean is that I love seeing how far I can drive a ball per hit.
With such a single simple-minded approach to golf, did I enjoy my time at all with the serious nature of PGA Tour 2K21?
What is PGA Tour 2K21?
PGA Tour 2K21 is a hardcore golf game from HB Studios and published by 2K Games for the Playstation 4, PC, Nintendo Switch and Xbox One. It’s also for the Google Stadia but since that’s not out here, we don’t really care.
The game features 12 PGA Tour Golfers (Justin Thomas’ the cover boy) and 15 licensed courses, though you can design your own course or even import them from The Golf Club 2019.
Despite the famous names, the focus of the game is squarely on the player, or rather, on the player’s avatar. There’s a campaign mode for your created golfer, which has you starting off in the bush leagues, trying to get enough points to get into the PGA proper.
There’s no story or other trappings (like you’d get from 2K’s NBA series) but in this case it’s for the best. While I’d have welcomed some narrative, I do have to admit the drive to join the elite PGA Tour was enough to keep me hitting the links to get enough points to qualify.
The MyPlayer leveling system also definitely had a part in my drive to play. It basically rewards you for completing games, raising your player levels and unlocking new stuff for you to buy in the in-game shop. I love that there are even in-game challenges sometimes that pop up. These give you extra incentives to perform well on a particular hole or in a game.
Not for casuals.
I have to admit though, I initially hated PGA Tour 2K21. The manual swing system takes a ton of practice to get right and it frustrated me a lot in the early going. I cursed the fact that the game didn’t just have a meter based swing system for those who didn’t want to deal with the analog swing.
I didn’t want to give the game an unfair shake though, so I persevered and played through multiple courses to see whether the swing system really sucked or it was just me.
Turns out it was me.
Now, I still think the game should have an alternate meter based control system but the analog based one is fine.
It just requires a ton of practice to get the hang of it. There are difficulty settings to make some stuff easier, but the gist of it is still that you must learn to use the analog to swing (and chip and putt) or you’ll never enjoy the game.
Even now, after hours of play, I still flub up tee shots…and putts. Especially putts. God I’m bad at putting. I can guesstimate the line the ball will travel, but all too often, I’ll miss the hole by a hair! The rage and frustration is real!
Conversely, the immense sense of satisfaction I get from a particularly difficult putt that goes in is incredible. It’s a heady rush that makes you addicted for it to happen again and again and again!
Trial and Error.
Luckily there’s a decent in-game training mode, which teaches you the basics and also the more advanced mechanics of the game. It’ll take some time and effort on your part (especially if you’re new) but the training will make you a damn fine golfer if you stick with it.
PGA Tour 2K21’s presentation is damn fine all throughout. With its camera cuts, commentary and TV show styling, it feels like you’re watching something off ESPN.
It’s pretty cool and adds an air of authenticity to the game. This isn’t just another golf game (though The Golf Club and Hot Shots Golf are still excellent), this is a PGA golf game…just like on TV.
I particularly enjoy the commentary. The dialogue seems natural and it all flows together seamlessly. It matches the action on-screen and the commentators even add in color commentary now and again that breaks up the monotony of it just being a play by play account of what’s happening.
The visuals look great too, with big crowds surrounding you when you tee off and decent looking golfers. The course themselves are nicely detailed as well, although there are some foliage pop-in on some holes when the camera zooms in following the ball.
The Bottom Line.
PGA Tour 2K21 isn’t a game geared for the casual.
It’s a tough game to get the hang of, even on its easiest setting. It requires dedication and commitment to get to the fun bits. When you do get to them though, the game gives you a sense of accomplishment like few others.
The investment needed to be good at the game’s sure to turn off a ton of folks, especially those who want instant gratification in their golf games. PGA 2K21 is a whole different ballgame from arcadey fare like the Hot Shot Golf series, and setting your expectations according is paramount for enjoyment.
Great (and hard) golf game that’s not for those who want instant gratification.
- Solid gameplay.
- Course designer.
- Great tutorial for beginners.
- TV-style presentation.
- Steep learning curve.
- Lacking modes.
- Not a lot of famous golfers.