Another year, another PGA Tour. It’s true, it’s another yearly entry for the revered gaming series. I’m not going to apologize for it because honestly, I love the series. I can’t play golf worth a damn in real life (mainly because I don’t have the gear or the practice) so 2K’s PGA Tour 2K23 (and its predecessors) are the closest I will probably ever get to hitting the links.
That alone makes me love the series a ton, but this year the devs have added Micheal Jordan into the game.
Uh-huh…MJ himself. His airness. The dude whose silhouette adorns Nike’s most famous line of basketball shoes.
Oh yeah, somebody called Tiger Woods is in this one too. You might have heard of him.
Does that mean PGA Tour 2K23 is the best game in the series yet?
What is PGA Tour 2K23?
PGA Tour 2K23 is a single and multiplayer golfing simulator developed by HB Studios and published by 2K Games. It is an officially sanctioned product of the PGA tour, which means it has authentic courses, as well as players.
It is available now for the PC, Xbox and Playstation consoles.
Our review copy was awesomely provided by the kind folks at 2K Games Singapore.
Every single year, the one thing I always look forward to in a new instalment of 2K’s sports games (be it NBA, PGA or WWE) is how they’ve revamped the single player aspects of the game. I play mainly single player (and I suspect a ton of gamers do too), so while I do dabble in the online aspects of the PGA Tour 2K23, I’m mostly around for the MyCareer mode.
For returning players, not much has changed on the surface.
You’ll still need to create a new golfer avatar and then take him through the ranks. You’ll start off playing in the minor leagues, the Korn Ferry Tour. Here you’ll have to place high on the charts to progress. Keep doing so and you’ll get your chance to represent in the PGA tour itself.
It’s a fine representation of the sport, of paying your dues to go up the food chain.
You’ll go up against Tiger Woods and a whole host of other pros (male and female) when you’re good enough though the lower ranks are filled with made up golfers. There are also 20 licensed courses at launch, but I personally don’t recognize any of them.
That’s also why, despite being impressed by the PGA 2K23 Course Designer, I found it pretty much useless to somebody who just wants to play. If you’re hardcore enough to spend hours designing the perfect course, the game will cater to that whim perfectly.
For me though, I just want to hit the green and start swinging, not think up the perfect location to place sand traps on my fantasy course,
What can I say, I love golf games but I don’t watch golf. I’m here to play, not be wowed by golf courses.
Unfortunately, I feel that PGA Tour 2K23 is a bit too safe. It doesn’t push the boundaries enough.
Like it or not, other 2K sports titles have evolved. Their career modes no longer just has you playing a career from the ground up. There’s a story to draw you in.
Check out my review of NBA 2K21.
The gameplay was a bit middling, but the story mode drew me in and kept me going just to see what’s going to happen to my player. I was hooked, I was invested.
I didn’t find anything of the sort here.
Don’t get me wrong, the MyCareer mode here is fine.
If you’re looking for something by the numbers, it’s a solid game. I honestly enjoyed it. As always, like any good golf game, the career mode is more of a personal challenge that pits you against yourself instead of the other golfers.
Whether you make the long putt or choke is all down to nobody but you.
PGA Tour 2K23 manages to replicate that superbly. I don’t know if it’s Tiger Woods’ influence and input (he’s listed as the game’s Executive Director) but gameplay this year feels much tighter (barring the swing meter).
When I say that there’s no sweeter feeling than sinking a long shot putt or chip, I mean it. Sure, it might be luck sometimes, but it’s also skill.
It’s MyCareer’s lack of pomp, bombast and well…story that gets me riled up. I want to live while pretending to be a golfer damn it. I want plot twists…something to get the blood pumping!
To be fair, the MyPlayer character customization is cool. The avatar creation isn’t as in-depth as I’d like but that’s fine. It’s the skills and leveling system that’s the driving force behind it all. You get XP for playing and once you level up, you get a skill point that you can freely assign to a skill.
Skills have multiple categories so you can choose which one to get depending on your playstyle. Focus on the Driver skills for example, and you get perks whenever you hit normal shots. It’s nothing over the top, but it does give you incentive to keep playing to unlock new stuff.
Unfortunately, for those having trouble with their swing, skills don’t help any.
Speaking of the swing meter, there are a couple, so make sure to choose one that suits your playstyle. I tried the analog swing style but just couldn’t get it down even with a ton of practice.
I moved on and chose the simplest system aka the 3-Click Swing (where you need to hold and hit a button multiple times as the pointer moves around the meter) but I found the timing to my responses to be a tad off.
The hits always registered a bit too late, or too early.
I’m not sure if it’s my TV, me or the game but I’ve played Taiko no Tatsujin, Persona 4: Dancing All Night and a couple of other rhythm based games on this very same TV and had no timing issues.
I did adapt after hours (upon hours) of failure to hit straight, but till now I’m still wondering whether it’s an issue with me, my TV or the game.
Apart from that issue, there’s little else to find fault with.
The newest mode to the series, Topgolf is a casual mode to play alone or with friends. It’s also hands-down my favourite mode.
You just tee off and try to hit your ball into designated pits on the green. Depending on how close your ball is to the center of the pit, you get more points.
The player with the most points win!
It’s simple to understand and easy to pick up and play so you can get a game going in very little time.
I really enjoyed the mode and hope more casual modes like this are added to the series in the future. Dare I hope for a mini golf mode?!
The visuals are great, the framerate’s smooth and the draw distance good enough that there’s no noticeable pop-in (that I’ve noticed). Presentation is slick, with the announcers calling the shots intelligently. The voice clips to tend to repeat after awhile but what can you do?
It’s a great golf game and a worth entry to the series but I do hope that the next entry shakes things up a bit more than the usual.
The Bottom Line.
PGA Tour 2K23 is another great golf entry by 2K.
It’s packed with features, has decent online and the gameplay is great. It’s hands-down the best golfing experience you can get this generation…for now.
Still…I can’t help but get this niggling feeling that HB Studios is starting to stagnate. They’ve nailed the core gameplay of golf down, but the other aspects (such as a better MyCareer mode) of the game feels archaic compared to 2K’s other sports titles.
It’s definitely time to shake things up presentation-wise or it’ll fall into the same trap many yearly sports games do.
Great golfing gameplay, tons of pros and courses and modes but MyCareer mode is disappointing.
- Tons of courses, pros.
- Great golf gameplay.
- Multiple swing styles.
- Topgolf mode is fun.
- RPG-lite skill system.
- MyCareer mode needs a revamp.
- 3-Click Swing is a bit too complicated for its own good.