Do you remember back in August when all the (entitled) PS Plus subscribers were outraged that the FREE (emphasis on free) game of the month was going to be PGA? Well, I always download the monthly games because they are FREE and I figure you can’t knock something until you try it.
So, I tried PGA. And then I played it again. And again. And again, and again and again. I’m still playing it now. I’ve been obsessively playing it since August. For the last 4 or 5 months, I have been playing PGA Tour 2K21 and for the most part, I’ve been loving every single second of it.
It’s not like it was in my wheelhouse either. Yes, I love sports. But prior to a few months again, I couldn’t tell you much about golf. I didn’t know the names of any active golfers. And even though I’d played it once or twice before, I didn’t really know the difference between a 3 wood or a 5 wood. I couldn’t tell you what was different between a flop shot or a splash shot. Heck, I couldn’t even remember what a birdie was. I came into this game knowing next to nothing about golf and it won me over completely.
I started by making my character. I was pleased by the customisation options and by how quick it was. I maxed out my characters body fat, gave him a slick receding hairline and an awesome moustache to boot. I dressed him in the most golf outfit I could imagine. A yellow checkered pattern top, with matching pants. The pants were obviously tucked into his socks. On his dome, I gave him a massive pair of aviators and a visor, so as not to ruin the shine on his “m” shaped hairdo. The man was pure golfing perfection.
All he needed was a name. It took me a bit longer to come up with a clever name then in previous sporting games. Khan Kickett is the perfect soccer player. Stan Dupson the perfect boxer. Duncan Ball for basketball. I’ve got the perfect name for every single professional sport. I settled with Steon Da Greene. Get it? Yeah, I know. It’s not my best work but I did get a laugh out of it.
It was time to start the game. I kicked of Steon’s professional career. I wasn’t great, but I wasn’t terrible. The game was easy enough to pick up. Aim your shot using the triangle button, select your club (or just take the suggested club from your caddy) and flick the right joystick down and up to swing. And there you go, you’re playing golf.
As time went on, I mastered the basics and I started increasing the difficulty, one at a time. There are 6 in total. I gradually started to learn the best clubs and shot types for each situation. I didn’t even need a caddy anymore! I became a master putter. I could read the green as easy as you read this blog!
The game never pushes you too much. You can constantly switch your difficulty (or custom and create your own difficulty!), so you can find an enjoyable challenge throughout. It is never too complicated to play, so it can be a nice and relaxing experience. Sometimes if I want to wind down, I’ll just pick a course and play a quick 18 holes. It takes about 20 minutes and is the perfect way to wind down at the end of the day.
On the other hand, if you get stuck in a slump or are trying to go up in difficulty, it can be infuriating at times. There is nothing worse than a bogey. Except a double. Or a triple. Or the dreaded quad. Fortunately, I don’t find myself in these scenarios to often, but I am currently in a slump and it is driving me mental!
I have found the best difficulty to be “Pro”, which is the third of the 6 options. I have customised it a tad to be a little bit harder, but I find difficulties 4,5 and 6 to be strange. 4 wasn’t too hard to play, it just changed the way you could read the course. I understood that I had to aim an extra 80 yards in certain scenarios, but I couldn’t understand why, or even how I was supposed to figure that out without using the trial and error method. It didn’t feel realistic to me, or particularly fun, so I dropped back to 3.
Obviously, I tried the “Legend” difficulty. You guys know me, I always have to play on the hardest setting. It wasn’t hard per se, but it did involve a lot of guesswork and again, it didn’t feel realistic to me. It just removed to much from the game. For example, normally you get notified of the winds direction and speed, so you can adjust your shot accordingly. On legend difficulty, you only get the direction. So you have no way of telling if it is a gentle breeze or gale force winds, until you take your shot. Pretty unrealistic and silly if you ask me! Legend difficulty had a lot of silly things like that.
Unfortunately, for trophy hunters, you will need to play at least 1 course on legend difficulty. One of the trophies requires you to score par or better on all 18 holes of an official course, without changing the difficulty below legendary. Yikes!
I have been working my way through the trophy list, but I’m not sure if I will ever get my beloved platinum. I haven’t done the above trophy yet, but I’ve got a fair few. A couple of them (see above) seem quite challenging or to rely on a bit of luck. Like getting a hole in one. I still haven’t done that, but I have come close a few times. I was lucky (or good?) enough to get the Golden Ferret trophy, for holing the ball from a sand bunker.
There isn’t much else to do in this game except for playing golf. Whether it is online, quick play, practice or your career, its basically all golf, all the time. There is little to no fluff. And it’s awesome. I used to love the NBA games, but I can’t stand them nowadays. So much needless fluff. I played them because I wanted to play basketball. Now you have to worry about going to gym, getting your haircut, visiting the clothes store, texting people, skateboarding and God knows what else. It’s so nice to have a sports game that is just about the sports. There isn’t even a storyline! It’s awesome.
You do also have the option of creating your own golf course. I’ve experimented with it a little bit, but I find it to be clunky to use and rather unpleasant to create a course. I also find it a bit limiting. I had all these grand visions of courses to make, but I was very restricted in what I could actually do. I felt that I could mainly just place objects. Which was fun enough, but the zaniness of finding random objects on the green wears out quickly. I did have a good laugh for a couple of hours though.
At the end of the day, PGA is a golf game and it’s awesome. It can be challenging, infuriating, relaxing, exciting and everything in between. I have rage quit. I have screamed at the ceiling in triumph after round winning eagles. I’ve laughed. I’ve cried (not really). In short, I’ve had a blast. So, to all the haters back in August, I just want to give you a big middle finger. Don’t knock something until you try it. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to the green for another 18.