PGA Tour 2K21 (PC) Review

By Renan Fontes 11.02.2021

Review for PGA Tour 2K21 on PC

Franchises that churn out new entries year after year typically garner quite a bit of scorn in the process and mostly with good reason. More often than not, these series are stuck actively avoiding major innovations except at the start of console generations. Even then, once well revered, sports franchises have started indulging in nasty habits. As the video game industry only continues to embrace microtransactions at a rapid pace, it is not unusual to find otherwise great games weighed down by creativity stifling greed. PGA Tour 2K21 unfortunately follows its contemporaries in this regard.

Without all those pesky microtransactions - or with at least a more rewarding gameplay loop - PGA Tour 2K21 would actually be a great jumping off point for genre newcomers. Sports video games are an acquired taste as is, let alone golf, but there is a genuine dedication to easing in newcomers present. In-depth tutorials often have the distinction of being too demanding for their own good, but the basic gameplay rundown is as quick as it is robust.
Even for genre veterans, it is worth sitting through the tutorial if only to get a feel for 2020's latest update to the formula. For all the faults the title has on a business level, it should not be ignored just how mechanically sound the whole experience is; complex enough to stay engaging without coming off overwhelming. It certainly helps matters that the controls are as tight as they are, regardless of whether a controller or mouse and keyboard are being used.
It is debatable which control method is better, but both get the job done admirably well. Mouse and keyboard offer a level of precision that controllers often miss, but a good controller feels comfortable in the hands while also compartmentalising in-game controls in a tangible object. A specific point in the controller's favour is analogue customisation. Players are free to choose where to swing; either the right or left analogue stick. It is a minor distinction, but one that prioritises player freedom.

Screenshot for PGA Tour 2K21 on PC

Both the mouse and controller make use of a pullback mechanic for swinging which serves as a nice approximation of the real act. Like most golf titles, swings work on a timer where players have a brief window of opportunity to register their perfect hit. More importantly, there is a layer of strategy involved as players need to be mindful of any given course's terrain along with how their ball will actually move once struck. It is important to maintain a steady hand when swinging as well, since shot straightness plays a vital role in making passable progress. These same principles apply to putting.
Beyond knowing when to swing or putt, golfers can adjust their aim with the D-Pad or WASD. This is especially useful for keeping power in check as these adjustments also influence the next swing's power percentage. For putting specifically, the Putt line mechanic helps players get a read of trickier shots by holding R. All things considered, it is a solid system for anyone who needs some help visualizing the green. Club switching also plays a crucial gameplay role, with allowance to customise the own bag with different club types.

Similarly, there are multiple shot types which all have their place and benefits. Learning when to switch up your shot is an important aspect of the gameplay loop. Controls are remarkably fluid. There is a learning curve, but it is rewarding just to get a feel of whacking the ball around.

Screenshot for PGA Tour 2K21 on PC

Multiple difficulty settings also help in accommodating all sorts of play styles. Beginners will get plenty of assistance while genre experts can dive right into high level play.
Performance wise, PGA Tour 2K21 runs well with little hiccups. Strong sound design helps in creating an ambience while the graphics do an excellent job at bringing courses to life. Commentary is not overbearing and being able to fast forward through shots may break the spirit of the sport, but it is a fine quality of life addition. Career mode even seems to offer an enticing single player experience, but that prospect is shattered the moment one notices how expensive cosmetics and new clubs are in the in-game shop. Players are free to customise their golfer how they see fit - with quite a bit of variety at their disposal - but the career drip feeds currency at a slow pace.

Screenshot for PGA Tour 2K21 on PC

While there are challenges golfers can attempt to earn extra cash at with each hole, these payouts are miniscule compared to some of the prices in the shop. The intent is clearly to make players spend real money. The grind is simply unreasonable on every level. It is a genuine pity because between the levelling system, player customisation and tight core mechanics is an incredible single player experience waiting to be unearthed. The problem is not so much that the microtransactions exist in the first place, it is rather that the game is now held back by their inclusion.

Microtransactions mean that progression cannot be natural, in other words players have to fight an uphill battle for new items. This is a full price release that has the audacity to bar unlockables behind ludicrous in-game prices while offering its audience an option to spend real life money to get around the grind. Worse is that there is not that much content to unlock in the first place. The mountain just seems so high because of how much money players have to earn. It really is a pity a game as well made as PGA Tour 2K21 strives for the absolute bare minimum while shamelessly embracing MTX.

Screenshot for PGA Tour 2K21 on PC

Cubed3 Rating

5/10
Rated 5 out of 10

Average

PGA Tour 2K21 is a fluid take on golf with incredibly tight mechanics that would be perfect for newcomers were it not for 2K's aggressive microtransactions. All sense of progression is held back by an in-game shop that demands hours of grinding on the player's part or real-life money. What is worse is that this practice makes it difficult to enjoy everything the title has to offer. Player customisation moves too slow and career mode simply offers too few rewards to feel rewarding. There is a good game in PGA Tour 2K21 somewhere, but it will never be found so long as microtransactions hold back actual game design.

Developer

HB Studios

Publisher

2K

Genre

Sport

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  5/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now   

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