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Review: 'Rory McIlroy PGA Tour' misses the cut

"Rory McIlroy PGA Tour" gets the gameplay right, but doesn't offer much depth. Photo Credit: EA Sports

Gamers missed their golf fix when EA Sports' "PGA Tour" franchise skipped 2014. Now, with a new brand and a strict focus on the new generation of consoles, is "Rory McIlroy PGA Tour" worth the wait?

Not really.

This game suffers from the same syndrome that has afflicted some other EA Sports titles, such as last fall's "NHL 15".

"Rory McIlroy," available now, nails the gameplay and graphics while giving everything else about the experience the cold shoulder.

The development team at EA Tiburon constructed "Rory McIlroy" from scratch on the same Frostbite 3 engine utilized by the "Battlefield" series. This results in a game that takes advantage of the extra power the latest consoles possess. Instead of loading each hole one at a time, the entire course is ready from the start. Load times have been slashed to a few short seconds.

That's no small feat, as the graphics are excellent and detailed. The golfers look as realistic as any athlete in a modern sports title. Water ripples and taller grasses sway. People walk along the paths in the background, adding to the ambience. Some textures don't hold up when zoomed in, but overall the visuals are par or better for the course (sorry, pun intended).

Less impressive is the announcing team of Rich Lerner and Frank Nobilo, who are more dry than previous years' broadcasters. They'll quickly become white noise.

The controls will feel familiar and there are three different swing schemes to give each player a chance to play his or her way. It's an accessible yet challenging setup that succeeds.

While swing controls respond as they should, many actions during shot setup are noticeably delayed. It's a weird hiccup in an otherwise fluid experience and it extends into menu navigation, too.

Hopefully those who purchase "Rory McIlroy" intend to play exclusively with friends, because there's a distinct lack of variety in the experience. Just 12 real-world golfers are available to control. "Tiger Woods PGA Tour 14" had more than double that, and it featured the LPGA Tour and legends -- neither of which can be found in "Rory McIlroy." Woods isn't here either, in case you're wondering. At least world No. 1 McIlroy and Jordan Spieth, winner of this year's Masters and U.S. Open, are available.

The number of real-world courses has been scaled back as well, but not as sharply as the golfers. Major sites Chambers Bay, St. Andrews and Whistling Straits are included. Still, players who grew accustomed to playing at Augusta National will be disappointed. It's not in the game yet and there are no announced plans to add it in the future.

Other than local or online head-to-head and solo rounds, players can start a PGA Tour career or play Night Club Challenge.

The career mode is bare bones, with less customization than in previous iterations. Instead of allowing for fully-shaped faces, less than a dozen face templates are available. That's turning back the clock about 10 years, and that is no good.

The default option to play quick rounds stands out as the one positive feature in career. Instead of playing 18 holes each day for four days of a tournament, just a few holes are played per day and entire tournaments can be played in the same time as one full round. For those who find career modes to be a slog, this is a refreshing addition.

Night Club Challenge breaks up the monotony and unlocks fantasy courses and golfers. It's fine to have, but not for those uninterested in imaginary golf courses.

This adds up to an unbalanced experience that's worth playing but won't hold gamers' attentions for long. The lack of content is inexcusable given the two-year wait for a new "PGA Tour" title. Maybe next year's version will fix that.

"Rory McIlroy PGA Tour", from developer EA Tiburon and publisher EA Sports, is out now for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One

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