The first edition of EA Sports' "Rory McIlroy PGA Tour" hits stores on July 14, available for both PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, though EA Access players on the Microsoft platform can get the game right now.
McIlroy takes over as the game's namesake from Tiger Woods, who is not involved with the game after the end of a 15-year relationship with the video-game maker. While the title of the game has changed, this doesn't feel like a totally new franchise, but rather the evolution of a title that has typically delivered fun, if not always realistic, game play.
The title is built on the new Frostbite 3 gaming engine, which delivers improved graphics and load times, as each full course loads before the round starts. EA Sports claims that cuts off up to 15 minutes from each round. If only that could happen in real life!
There are three styles of game play: Arcade, Classic and Tour. Arcade will feel like more recent versions of this franchise, using the analog stick to go back and forth for the swing, with the ability to impart spin, direction change and other interference after the shot. Classic Mode borrows from the old three-click style in the earliest versions of the game to start, set power then set direction, with no influence after the shot is struck. Tour mode combines the two, using the analog stick as the conduit for the swing. Players can also adapt their own game mode, bringing in elements from each of the three styles.
In addition, there's the Night Club Challenge, which offers over 170 unique skills challenges over three courses. Players first learn how to improve basic skills, but then unlock challenges and powers that make the game more fun and defy the laws of physics.
The new aiming arc and putt-read visuals help players see how shots will perform taking into account all factors, including weather, lie, elevation and intended shot shape. Execute well and the ball will go exactly as you imagine, just like in reality.
In online game play, all players in a tournament load simultaneously, so you can see where your opponent is just as you're playing. It's a cool, if sometimes distracting, approach to making
Joining McIlroy as playable characters in the game are two-time 2015 major winner Jordan Spieth, 2011 PGA champion Keegan Bradley, 2015 Players champion Rickie Fowler, Ryder Cup legend Ian Poulter and six-time PGA Tour winner Hunter Mahan. Spaniard Miguel Angel Jimenez, 2013 PGA champion Jason Dufner, former FedEx Cup winner Brandt Snedeker, rookie standout Patrick Rodgers and Jonas Blixt round out the lineup of 12 pros. Of course, players also have the freedom to create their own golfer and carry them through Career mode.
There are several fantasy courses developed specifically for the title, but "Rory McIlroy PGA Tour" comes with several well-known courses available for play. Three of the 2015 major championship venues -- Chambers Bay, the Old Course at St. Andrews and Whistling Straits -- are on the roster, as is 2016 Open Championship host Royal Troon. PGA Tour regulars Bay Hill and TPC Boston are in the game, as is Wolf Creek in Mesquite, Nev. The courses come in much better than the prior version of the PGA Tour franchise, with more depth and better detailing.
There's a new commentary team for the game, which features Golf Channel-influenced graphics. Rich Lerner and Frank Nobilo are your play-by-play team for all the action.
The game will cost $60.