Return of the King: PGA Tour 2K23 Review
WACO, Texas (KWTX) - Sometimes sports games are just games about sports. That doesn’t sound like the most insightful knowledge ever bestowed upon readers, but trust me when it comes to PGA Tour 2K23, it makes sense.
PGA Tour 2K23 is the long awaited follow up to PGA Tour 2K21. A pleasant surprise for gamers and golf fans alike in the throws of the covid-19 pandemic in 2020. 2k21 really was the first memorable golf sim to hit major consoles since Rory McIlroy PGA Tour in 2015 (an abject failure after EA Sports decided to part with Tiger Woods following Tiger Woods PGA Tour 14).
2K21 was able to restore the feeling left behind by the uber popular Tiger Woods franchise. It was a straightforward golf sim that allowed you to compete with your friends. And at that time, that is all players needed or wanted. Now two years later and on a new generation of console, HB Studios and 2K had the task of trying to improve on a game most players seemed to approve of.
GAMEPLAY AS DIFFICULT AS ACTUAL GOLF (IF YOU WANT IT TO BE)
I am not an avid golfer. The best I do is occasionally going to Top Golf. But even I recognize how difficult the sport is. You have to try and hit the tinniest target from hundreds of yards away. A feat that would make Luke Skywalker proud. Yes that was Meridian trench run joke. I’m sorry.
2K has been able to simulate just how difficult it is to get a tiny ball in a tiny hole. The weather plays a factor, the courses are major factor, and never more in a golf sim, has the speed of the green been a factor.
The long game has proven difficult to me in this game simply for the fact of how loose you can be with the joystick while driving. I found myself being fast on most drives and pulling the ball well right. But those times when I did get a perfect drive, it really felt like an accomplishment.
I found using the irons to be fun and most of the time I was able to find the green. But chipping was a different story. It did feel as though the shots out of the traps or the rough tended to run on you if you were not careful.
Speaking of running, these greens are fast. Especially on pro courses. Never has a golf game had a more accurate depiction of what it’s like to try and make a putt and never has that been more frustrating.
Having to two putt for a bogey after not precisely reading the green from four feet away will make you want to throw your controller if you are so inclined.
All this being said, you do have the ability to adjust the difficulty of you, your simulated opponents and the difficulty the weather adds in as well. So, if you are looking for a relaxing sim, you do have the ability find it.
TIGER IS BACK
This will probably be the immediate reaction from most players, including myself and will of course be huge selling point for the game. Having Tiger Woods back on the cover and as a playable character in a golf video game just feels right. The nostalgia hits you like a warm blanket.
The problem however is that Tiger joins only a few other recognizable names from the PGA Tour. I understand individual licensing for the athletes is probably more difficult than we will ever know but it
would have been great to add even more players than we had in the previous game and really establish the feeling of being in a tournament with the likes of McIlroy, Spieth, and others.
However, a huge plus is the inclusion of LPGA pros in this game. A criticism of the past game in the series.
NBA stars and avid golfers, Michael Jordan and Steph Curry are also unlockable players, and their stats aren’t half bad. But I would have sacrificed playing with them for playing against a few more golf pros.
CAREER MODE IS DEFINITELY A MODE YOU CAN PLAY
Full disclosure on my play through, I have not advanced far enough to truly dig into the sponsorships you can gain or the RPG upgrade elements for your player that 2K23 has implemented, but I will do my best to describe for you how it felt to play as Royden Ogletree the PGA Golf Pro.
It was fine.
If you are looking to have the experience of what it is like to compete in some of the biggest tournaments in the world against other professionals, albeit simulated, then I’m sure you will love this mode.
If you are coming to these games for more of a story like some sports games (mainly NBA 2K) have implemented over the years, then you will be disappointed.
I believe there is a fine balance of backstory that can give a career mode an extra push over the top without having to add a bunch of side quests like we have seen in the NBA games. This doesn’t have either.
You can have the experience of trying to rise through the ranks if you would like by starting out in Q School or the Korn Ferry Tour. This can help you upgrade and establish your skills a little more before you make the leap to the PGA Tour, but in all honesty, I just found myself opting to start at the PGA Tour over and over again.
Your player isn’t super customizable overall either. Of course, you can change into some interesting outfits and have a litany of clubs, which you will unlock as time progresses in the game. But you can’t change your weight or body type in the game which is strange, and your swing isn’t customizable at all.
A Course Designer that would make Tony Hawk blush
Of course, the most customizable and in-depth feature on 2K23 is the course design feature. This has been a favorite of fans of the last game and they should continue to love this one.
The sheer amount of things that you can fill your golf course with is insane. From every type of shrubbery you can imagine to wildlife and even hot air balloons, you can spend hours customizing your dream course to be as interesting as you want it to be.
Top Golf but virtual and not as expensive as real life
A new feature this year is the Top Golf game mode. Going in, I thought it would be just branded filler thrown into the game. But I actually I found it to be an entertaining way to practice your shots and gain XP without having to play on an actual course.
How fun this game mode will be against other players in online competition remains to be seen because it is easy to wrack up a lot of points regardless of your skill level, but it is an interesting concept that I’m excited to see what they do with in the future if they choose to keep it.
Overall PGA Tour 2K23 is a straightforward golf sim. At points it can even feel as difficult as the real game. This year’s version is not filled with new features that will knock your socks off. It also isn’t trying to redefine the genre like Mario Golf: Super Rush. But if you are a fan of the sport are looking to pass the time and don’t want to spend the money on actual rounds of golf, this is the closest you’re going to get to the real thing. And I promise it’s cheaper to break a controller when you miss a putt than to break an actual putter.
Score: 7 out of 10
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