[Review] PGA TOUR 2K21 – Nintendo Switch

Written by Kieran Fifield
  • Developer: iLLOGIKA
  • Publisher: 2K
  • Release Date: 21/08/2020
  • Price: £49.99 / $59.99
  • Review code provided by 2K

Introducing: PGA 2K21 Nintendo Switch Review

Golf has a bit of a stigma as a boring sport. Even today, when coverage is so accessible and readily available, people oft disregard it. However, at its most basic level, it’s an incredibly technical sport that not only offers an intricate challenge, also provides incredible respite for the mind, and dare I say it, the soul. The escape provided by being away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, in idyllic, pristine surroundings is the perfect tonic to the exhaustive nature of everyday life. 

While Nintendo fans have long been afforded the opportunity to experience a magical mash-up of the therapeutic reprise of the 18 hole game and the carnal delights of crazy golf, in Nintendo’s own Mario Golf series (of which, we’re long overdue); the pure golf experience has long alluded ardent Nintendo enthusiasts. 2K continues to show an unprecedented level of support for Nintendo’s stellar seller, by once again bringing their latest release to Nintendo Switch, in its entirety. Well, more or less. Read on to find out how the restorative golf experience translates to the big (and little) screen, in the latest Nintendad review.

EA Sports, it’s in the…. Wait!

2K, under their 2K Sports umbrella, has been publishing golf games since 2018, taking advantage of EA’s uncertainty in which way to take the licence. EA would likely just push a second-rate entry, whereas 2K is undoubtedly making the effort to cater to Switch owners and tap that market. With no sign of a Mulligan from EA, with this year’s offering of FIFA once more confirmed to be a reskin, from a Nintendo point of view, this is a very good thing.

With the Nintendo Switch home to so many arcade-style golf games, but not a single realistic golf simulator, there is certainly a market for PGA Tour 2K21, so let’s get into it!

PGA Tour 2K21 flys off the tee as a fully realized golf title that is licensed to a phenomenal level. If you’re a fan, you’ll recognize the courses, which have all been lovingly recreated and while Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods are absent due to their contracts with EA, there are plenty of familiar faces. Justin Thomas is the cover star and is often present in the highlight reels which sporadically play during rounds on the Pro Tour, along with the likes of Jim Furyk and Bryson DeChambeau to name but a few.

Golf is a delicate mix of technical capability and primal strength, as you swing the club through the ball in order to propel it great distances. This mechanic is handled by the right stick, which you bring down to begin a stroke, and flick it upward as you approach the sweet spot. Mastering this technique can take a few rounds, and often resulted in shanked and drawn shots, however once perfected, hearing the THWACK of the driver striking the ball is oh-so gratifying.

FORE!!

The main selling point of PGA 2K21 on Nintendo Switch is the quality of gameplay. Intrinsically, its just a very good game, offering a pure and unabridged representation of golf. The gameplay works on nearly every level and driving the ball, chipping from the sand or putting on the greens all feels wonderfully regulated. When you shank the ball, you’ll know before it happens, you’ll feel it happen, and if your chipping onto the green and you don’t administer enough power on your stroke, the chances are you’ll be astutely aware of this and alter your game the next time you play. It really does provide some synergy with actual golf in that sense.

There are game modes aplenty, but interestingly the career mode, the real meat-and-two-veg of the packet is an online-only affair. Yep. You have to be tethered to the interconnected web to be able to pursue your dreams of Golf (and World?) supremacy. It’s quite baffling, given the pick-up-and-play nature of the Nintendo Switch and negates the game as an option during flights or tunnel-heavy train journeys. One upside is that when the game inevitably crashes, or you rage quit due to your inexplicable inability with the putter, PGA Tour 2K21 picks up exactly where you left it.

Eagle-Eye Cherry

Before you set off on your personal quest for tour supremacy, PGA Tour 2K21 will see you create your own custom character. The options available are quite vast and allow for a real likeness to be created. Seriously, the avatar I created is uncanny in it’s resemblance to the appearance of this humble scribe.

Hybrid Hubris

PGA Tour 2K21 is something of a double-edged 5 Iron. While the gameplay loop is utterly addictive and has provided dozens of hours of play in just over a week of having it, it has some serious issues on Nintendo Switch. Lighting can be a real issue and often when on the tee or green, your pro golfer will become a Water temple sub-boss and go fully shadow. All identifying features are stripped away to reveal a silhouette with a golf club. Jarring stuff!

Equally disconcerting is the sheer number of times the game crashed when playing. There wasn’t a common pattern or instance that would trigger them, but at times the game was near on unplayable as you could spend an hour just loading the game, navigating some menus before another crash would occur. During a particularly heinous passage of game time, I didn’t manage to hit the links in over 40 minutes, as the game simply didn’t want to run. I sincerely hope that 2K are aware of these issues and performance patches are already in the works.

Bogey on the Sixth

Before PGA Tour 2K21 launched, there was a lot of chatter about how the Nintendo Switch version would ship without the course creation mode. Perhaps as a result of the backlash, the game launched with the aforementioned mode present. While it is certainly a great option to have, it feels a little lacking. Whilst you can choose the criteria for the courses, you don’t directly have any real say on the design, the structure or appearance. Essentially you choose a theme, the sparsity of foliage, amount of sand, levels of water etc, and then the game engine will generate courses that you can then test, edit and if you like what you see, upload and share with others. You can, of course, try other user creations too. It’s fine but when we’ve been treated to the tool-sets offered by Super Mario Maker 2 and Rock of Ages III, it feels a little lacking.

Putting for Par?

While PGA 2K21 is a delight to play – offering challenge, a realistic learning curve and an all-encompassing golf simulation to boot, it, unfortunately, suffers from too many technical infidelities. It’s hard to put down, you’ll really not want to, but then the game will crash, so you probably will.

Pros

  • THWACK *Chef’s Kiss*
  • Not made by EA
  • A great video game representation of golf
  • Utterly moreish.

Cons

  • Crashes constantly.
  • Too many performance issues
  • Career mode is online only.

Verdict
PGA Tour 2K21 is difficult to recommend in its current state. If it’s patchable, and the game becomes perpetually playable, the difference will be Tiger Woods, pre and post-marital problems. 

DISCLAIMER

I love this game. With performance patches, this would receive a Favourite child score. However, in its current state, I would be neglecting my responsibilities to ignore its many underlying issues.

See what this scorecard means.

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