Published by 2K Games, PGA Tour 2K21 is HB Studios’ latest golf simulation title. Originating from HB Studios’ original The Golf Club title, this iteration drops the title entirely and focuses more on the PGA Tour career itself. Is it a hole-in-one or is it just a par? Let’s find out!
Back in The Golf Club 2019, there were many features in the game which made it too complicated and made it less than enjoyable. One of them was the swing tempo. From hitting the sweet spots on the swing interface to maintaining a “perfect” backswing to impact tempo made it cumbersome for most players. On top of that, we have to actively control our downswing motion to prevent any accidental push, pull, hooks and slices. This itself made the controls unnecessarily which more than often creates unpredictable results with every swing.
The controls in PGA Tour 2K21 have been simplified without all these unnecessary details. The “perfect” tempo system has been removed entirely, and players will only have to focus on hitting one sweet spot highlighted in the power bar. The rest of the controls remains as intuitive as the previous versions of The Golf Club.
Career Mode in PGA 2K21 is not a far cry from most sports genres. I was first tasked with the creation of my own Golfer then I was immediately thrown into the tutorial where it guided me through the necessary controls. For those who are new to golf games, the tutorial is pretty thorough and well-paced, and at the same time. The tips that appear throughout the game after that come in pretty handy for beginners as well; and of course, it can be switched off if you’re already a Golf veteran.
From then on, I was slowly introduced to the sponsorship challenge which unlocks premium apparel, accessories, and clubs from brands such as Taylormade, Callaway, Under Armour. These unlocks can then be further purchased using points earned from winning each tour and completing course-related challenges. The 12 licensed pro golfers make their appearance throughout the tour as well. These pro golfers were assigned to me as rivals and defeating them will unlock specific apparels as well.
The Local and online Multiplayer in PGA Tour 2K21 is more of a fun mode rather than competitive play. On top of standard gameplay, modes such as Alternate-Shot, Skins, 4-Player Scramble, and Stroke Play provide great alternatives for quick multiplayer fun. It just a waste that they didn’t include putt-putt as one of the modes available.
The career mode also features 15 licensed courses which are replicated from their real-world counterpart and many more fictional courses designed by HB Studios. The fictional courses are mostly placed in the initial part of the tour while some are scattered towards the end where the focus is more on licensed courses.
The Course Designer may be the most defining feature in PGA Tour 2K21. Although it’s not a new feature in The Golf Club series by itself, it’s nonetheless a feature the title cannot do without. From its detailed terraforming capabilities to the expansive list of course decorations, the Course Designer provides players opportunities to design their imaginary course and share it with the community.
Although there are elements of RPG in Career Mode, the progression rewards were quite unsatisfying. Besides earning virtual cash to purchase the relatively limited apparel and equipment, character progression doesn’t seem to provide any other purpose besides lifting the FedEx Cup at the end of career mode – without the yellow jackets.
Knowing that it can be quite difficult for publishers to get the rights for brand licenses, I was still rather disappointed when it came to the limited brand sponsorship choices and pro player presence in the game. Many other household names such as Nike, Mizuno, Ping, and Titleist weren’t even part of the brands available.
Nonetheless, PGA Tour 2K21 in general have the makings of a great golf simulator. Easy but yet detailed controls for advanced players, fluid gameplay, a great variety of challenges and play modes for freshness, and with the addition of the Course Designer and sharing features, the basic building blocks are well in place for more improvements in the future.