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PGA Tour 2K23 Game review

Game review 12 October 2022, 13:00

PGA Tour 2K23 Review: Greener Pastures

Back after a two year hiatus, the latest installment of PGA Tour feels as realistic as ever but offers more options to welcome new players onto the green.

The review is based on the PS5 version. It's also relevant to PC, XSX, XONE, PS4 version(s).

Like the athletes that play the sport, there is a desire for sports sims to get better each year. Tweaks can be made to how the physics works, facial models can be improved, and the addition of new or improved features make the next installment worth getting even though you may have just picked up the same game a year ago.

2K knows this process quite well, and with PGA Tour back after a year’s hiatus, the latest entry now brings with it additional accessibility options, a new mode, and an impressive display of golf at its finest. These improvements make the game more available to pro sim golfers and newbies alike and highlight the best of the franchise even though it lacks some enthusiasm when shaping your in-game career. If you have never played a golf sim before or are looking for an authentic golfing experience, PGA Tour 2K23 is your chance to hit the links and feel right at home.

Swing Your Way

PROS:
  1. 3-Click-Swing control makes the game accessible to more players;
  2. MyCareer offers plenty of customization option;
  3. Beautiful courses and realistic visuals.
CONS:
  1. MyCareer isn’t that exciting;
  2. Facial animations can lack emotion;
  3. Topgolf offerings are skimpy.

One of the reasons why 2K23 is so approachable is thanks to its new 3-Click-Swing controls. This type of shot simply requires you to hold and release the X button (or A on Xbox), and then press it again to line your swing path and one more time to determine your club’s angle. This swing method makes the game feel more familiar to those who want an arcade feel for the sport. Think a more realistic, elevated version of Mario Golf without the silly items and Wario taunts.

But don’t be fooled, the game is still quite realistic and will require you to angle your shots and select the best loft, spin, or speed of the ball. You can’t just expect to finish a match under par by just swinging each time so the game challenges you to survey your surroundings, the hills on a course, and wind speed before you take a shot. Even putting can still be quite a challenge as you need to consider slope and distance. The new swing type lets you see your power meter change depending on how far away you aim your putt so you can more visually calculate how far the ball will travel.

Now, don’t worry if you want a more traditional PGA Tour experience or simply want to amp up the difficulty. The existing analog swing HB Studios is known for is still available so your moves will mirror a more real-life golf swing using the joystick to determine the style of your shots. 3-Click-Swing, however, makes it easier to hit the ball if you are still learning and gives you more power to play the game at your level and move up from there. Whichever method you choose, learning to play is as rewarding as it feels to chip-in a birdie when the odds are against you.

A Lackluster Career

While just adding a new swing type completely opens the game to more players, MyCareer, however, will make those players wonder what else there is to do when you compare it to other 2K sports titles. This is the main mode the game offers for you to test your skills and lets you take your created player from Q-School to the PGA Tour, gaining skills, experience, and unlockables over time that let you shape him or her to your liking. Skills can be unlocked to mold your player and have him or her focus on putting, power, or drive, for example, and some of these will even activate based on situations during a game. There is no question you have more control over how your golfer evolves game after game, but in terms of what it offers, MyCareer will leave you wanting more.

VERDICT:

While PGA Tour 2K23 offers one of the best golf video game experiences yet, there is still so much more it can do in elevating the golf experience to showcase the thrills that come with being a pro.

Selecting rivals, for example, isn’t a very rewarding system. Sure, you can pick out some of the heavy-hitters to compete against once you make it on the PGA Tour, but beating out pros like Collin Morikawa and even Tiger Woods just means scoring better than them in a tournament. Once you do, the game doesn’t make a big deal out of it and simply rewards you with a trophy presentation for your hard work. It’s not very exciting and makes your hard work feel more like a personal victory rather than something the game is congratulating you for.

You can feel this lack of enthusiasm much throughout MyCareer as well as there are no additional cutscenes, press conferences, or even choices you make as you make your way up the ranks. Compared to 2K’s basketball or EA's hockey sim, 2K23 feels more like the introverted sibling, and you can feel this mood throughout the game’s presentation. I get that golf is more of a singular sport so how it shows in a video game is very different, but a little more pizazz could have really elevated the experience to make you feel like the golf phenomenon you are striving to be.

Visually, 2K23 looks better than any other title before it. With 20 courses to play on, you can really appreciate the added detail used to bring them to life, but there are times when your surroundings can still feel off especially from a distance. Course Designer also received an upgrade as the game offers you even more options to create the course of your dreams (or nightmares) and share them with others. Foliage has been improved, but sometimes the grass looks muted, and even the audience that follows you to every hole looks the same and lacks personality. Even your own golfer can look wooden next to a pro whose likeness was replicated into the game. You can customize how he or she looks with a decent facial customization options and apparel, but this doesn’t hold much weight when they also lack emotion during cutscenes.

A unique mode this year, Topgolf brings the arcadey feel of the real-life game to 2K23 in a very meta move that works when you want to have a more casual experience. Taking place at Topgolf’s flagship location in Las Vegas, this mode lets you go up against other players in a point-based game where your accuracy plays a key role in achieving a high score. It’s a great way to practice your swings, but there is little more it offers other than a break from hitting the links.

Final Thoughts

It’s a step in the right direction to take an intricate series like PGA Tour and make it more accessible to a wider audience. The game has a steep learning curve if you want to beat other players online or even the pros at the highest difficulty in single-player tournaments, but the new added 3-Click-Swing and even the more casual Topgolf mode can make the game seem less daunting to someone who is just learning golf terminology.

PGA Tour 2K23 Review: Greener Pastures - picture #4

Our reviews are featured on Metacritic.

While PGA Tour 2K23 offers one of the best golf video game experiences yet, there is still so much more it can do in elevating the golf experience to showcase the thrills that come with being a pro. Sure, it’s nice to get paid for winning tournaments, but more enthusiasm to pump you up to do another tournament would be nice. Its attention to realism is impressive, there has to be more to golf than restrained commentary.

Giancarlo Saldana | Gamepressure.com

Giancarlo Saldana

Giancarlo Saldana

Giancarlo grew up playing video games and finally started writing about them on a blog after college. He soon began to write for small gaming websites as a hobby and then as a freelance writer for sites like 1UP, GamesRadar, MacLife, and TechRadar. Giancarlo also was an editor for Blast Magazine, an online gaming magazine based in Boston where he covered various video game topics from the city's indie scene to E3 and PAX. Now he writes reviews and occasional previews for Gamepressure covering a broad range of genres from puzzle games to JRPGs to open-world adventures. His favorite series include Pokémon, Assassin's Creed, and The Legend of Zelda, but he also has a soft spot for fighting and music games like Super Smash Bros and Rock Band. When not playing Overwatch after a long day at work, he enjoys spending time working out, meal prepping, and discovering new international films and TV shows.

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