This one cracks the biggie: making it fun

It is at once the simplest and most challenging task for the developers of any golf game — make it fun to play.

PGA TOUR 2K21
From: 2K Sports
For: PS4, Xbox One, PC, Switch
★★★★

Sports titles such as Fifa and Madden bring with them almost overpowering levels of expectation around immersive detail, gameplay options, roster depth, accuracy and simulation.

Golf’s different. Yes, it’s nice to have cutting-edge graphics and a healthy smattering of authentic material (golfers and courses and tournaments). But just Make. It. Fun. To. Play.

Happily, PGA Tour 2K21 ticks the major box.

It is a big step for golf gaming, which has never really been the same since the Tiger Woods PGA series was discontinued by industry behemoth EA Sports.

This is a sequel of sorts to the Golf Club series, which 2K Sports — known principally for its signature NBA 2K series — acquired in 2018.

It includes a fair level of real-life action including 15 courses and 12 professionals, who can appear as opponents, and a suite of MyPlayer creative tools just like NBA 2K.

But remember, all that really matters is the gameplay, and the first few hours I have spent with the game have mostly been impressive on that front.

The controls are intuitive, the feel and sound and look of the game are recreated superbly, and the progression in the single-player career mode strikes just the right balance.

Pleasingly, the difficulty options are so broad as to cater for just about everyone. In my first tournament, I paced the field by 11 strokes after a single round; a few tweaks later, and I was engaged in a heated battle all the way to the 18th hole.

The atmosphere and action around the golf courses — crowds that come to life, commentary that is mostly on point — helps recreate the good walk spoiled.

Whacking a little white ball can get repetitive on screen, but this game offers decent longevity thanks to an in-depth course designer and the option of joining a ‘‘society’’ for some online action.

Real golf can be the most frustrating sport around. PGA Tour 2K21 never makes you want to throw your wedge in the water hazard.

 - Hayden Meikle
 

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