EA Sports PGA Tour Review – Broken Clubs, Broken Hearts

EA Sports PGA Tour Review

It’s hard to believe that eight years have passed since EA stepped out onto the links with Rory McIlroy PGA Tour. Given the trainwreck that game turned out to be, I suppose the decision to take an extended series hiatus isn’t difficult to understand. But the past is the past. EA Sports PGA Tour is here. Surely, in 2023 EA has learned from its mistakes, focused its efforts, and finally delivered fans the golf game of our dreams. At the very least, things couldn’t get any worse, right?

The good news is that EA’s latest golf simulation is better than the team’s last effort. Though, it pains me to say that PGA Tour remains drenched in mediocrity. Flashes of brilliance pepper the experience, but far too many technical issues keep PGA Tour from ever having a chance at a green-in-regulation.

True Beauty

First, let’s talk about everything EA Sports PGA Tour does right. Without a shadow of a doubt, this is the most beautiful golf game you can lay your eyes on. Each of the 30 courses is painstakingly detailed, to the point I was remarking to myself that this is the closest I’ll ever get to teeing off at Augusta, Pebble Beach, etc. And EA’s penchant for adopting real-life course data to authentically simulate how each course plays is remarkable. For instance, balls roll differently on a St. Andrews fairway when compared to Banff Springs. Regardless of location, these nuances permeate PGA Tour to deliver a true-to-life golf experience.

Character models also look great. They’re nowhere near the level of likenesses in sports games like Fifa or MLB The Show, but they’re miles above PGA Tour’s competition – PGA Tour 2K23. It’s nice to see players show emotion when nailing a problematic chip or missing a par putt. Hair especially comes across well, with individual strands blowing in the wind. The crowd, however, still looks like a group of Sears mannequins placed throughout each hole. And their animations leave much to be desired. It’s impossible not to notice when several crowd members simultaneously do the same thing with their hands and arms.

Issues aren’t exclusive to the crowd; bear in mind. PGA Tour’s blunders stretched across nearly every facet of my time on the links. For starters, consoles are locked at 30fps. I know it’s golf, and some may feel that a higher framerate isn’t necessary, but I strongly disagree. PGA Tour on PS5 is noticeably choppy, severely diminishing the superb presentation between holes. It also makes aiming shots a chore, as your movable shot marker has a difficult time landing on the exact spot you want it to be. There’s an excruciating “floatiness” to it that feels as if it was plucked out of the original PlayStation era. Quite frankly, it’s unacceptable. And this also leads to problems dialing in a swing or putt.

Back to the Drawing Board

Off the course, EA Sports PGA Tour’s menu system is arguably the worst I’ve ever seen in a sports game. It’s convoluted and utterly broken. I simply refuse to play another hole until EA fixes it. Scrolling through menu options takes a nauseating amount of time. I lost track of the number of instances I thought the game froze when all I was trying to do was move from one screen to the next.

Furthermore, things like challenges in career mode don’t work. One small example I can give to convey this nonsense was when I tried to do a putting challenge shortly after beginning my career. The goal was to sink five putts. The challenge loaded, and I was 40 yards from the green doing a completely separate chipping challenge.

I can’t remember the last time I played a game that failed to make work even the most basic gameplay settings. EA Sports PGA Tour is a stark reminder that EA has fallen an enormous distance from its early-to-mid-2000s glory days. It’s sad, really.

I wanted to love EA Sports PGA Tour. Though I find myself as disappointed as Bart Simpson was when he got Lee Carvallo’s Putting Challenge for Christmas. The initial gameplay showcase had me as excited as a kid in a candy store. There’s no denying it’s a gorgeous game. Course flyovers and commentary are also superb. But these fleeting moments of brilliance make PGA Tour’s missteps all the more frustrating. Until EA gets under the hood and performs the mountain of work required to get it up to snuff, I’ll be sticking to PGA Tour 2K23. At least that game works.

***A PS5/PC code was provided by the publisher***

The Good

  • Gorgeous/authentic courses
  • Commentary
  • Presentation

The Bad

  • 30fps on consoles
  • Horrific, sluggish menu system
  • Broken challenges
  • An overall slog to play