PGA Tour 2K23 Review (PS5)

PGA Tour 2K23 Review (PS5): The Lucky Charm?

PGA Tour 2K23

In recent years there’s been a noticeable lack of strong golf games on the market. EA’s PGA Tour series seemed to drop in quality the second Tiger Woods was no longer associated with it, though they’re trying a comeback after nearly eight years in the spring. Last year’s Mario Golf was underwhelming, letting gimmicks overshadow the solid gameplay beneath. The Golf Club, which evolved into the PGA Tour 2K series, has its fans, but I’ve never really enjoyed the feel of the analog-based swinging mechanics they use, which has kept me from really enjoying the series.

Maybe Tiger Woods is a lucky charm for these games, though, because the year PGA Tour 2K integrates him into the game is the year it finally clicks for me. Okay, my enjoyment of PGA Tour 2K23 doesn’t have a lot to do with Tiger, in truth, though there’s definitely something about him chasing you on the leaderboards during a tournament. No, the reason the series has finally clicked for me comes down to the new three-click system, which isn’t exactly what fans of Camelot and Clap Hanz golf games might expect, but it works great and allowed me to finally feel like a pro in these games.

 

Making Par

 

PGA Tour 2K23

If you’re playing alone, you’ll spend most of your time in career mode, where you can take an up-and-coming golfer from playing in small tournaments and make your way to the PGA Tour. Or start on the tour if you want to, it’s up to you. There’s a lot to customize here, from your clubs, to your outfits, to your character yourself. Even beyond the golf, you have things to manage, like sponsorship offers, though it would have been nice if I could more easily dismiss the many offers that keep coming in even after I decided I was happy with my current sponsors.

Once you step into tournaments, you’ll have 20 licensed courses available to make your way through, representing a huge variety of different terrains and style, though some of the most famous courses in golf are notably missing. If you want to play just a single round per tournament, that works, or you can set up multi-round battles where you’ll have to fight to make the cut each day if you don’t want to be eliminated. Whether you’re an old pro at these games or just getting started, there are plenty of difficulty options to let you get the experience you want.

 

Three Click For The Win

 

PGA Tour 2K23

I once again tried the standard swinging mechanics, which use the analog stick, and found that, once again, they aren’t for me. Fans of the series who do like them, though, will be glad to find they haven’t gone anywhere. For those who haven’t enjoyed that traditional option, though, there’s a new alternative which I clicked with very quickly. That’s the three-click system. While there are some similarities to other three-click systems from other golf games, they mostly end at pressing a button three times to control your swing. Instead, you have to time a meter by holding down the button first, then time to quick button presses to line up your shot. It wasn’t quite what I expected going in, and took me a short time to get used to, but once I had the feel for it, I was nailing swings and putting the ball right where I wanted it.

If there’s anything I’d still like to see overhauled a bit, it would be the short game, particularly putting. The systems in place here definitely work, but in truth, I’d like a few more tools to help me line up long puts and really get a feel for the terrain of the green. Inclines could be a bit dicey still, and while I did get better over time and eventually nailed a lot of tough putts, I never felt as comfortable as I’d like to be in reading just what I needed.

 

Room To Grow

 

PGA Tour 2K23

Players familiar with other 2K sports games may be nervous about potential monetization in PGA Tour 2K23, but while I can’t say it isn’t present, it isn’t a major issue. Yes, you earn virtual currency by playing online, and yes, you can buy more of it with real money. Just playing, though, provided enough to grab a few cosmetics, and everything you can purchase with real money is just that. Cosmetic. It never felt intrusive or annoying.

While the actual golf on offer here is excellent, PGA Tour 2K23 could still use a bit of work on presentation. You have the option in career mode to golf against a rival which is fun in theory, but it leads to a significant increase in the game wanting to show you replays and what your opponents are doing. This makes sense if the rivals mechanic is to have any impact, but it often leads to slow, drawn-out replays that I just wanted to skip over so I could keep golfing. The color commentary is also a mixed bag, though I did like that the announcers would not only sometimes get a call wrong but call each other on it when it happened. The first time that happened, I was truly surprised, even if I was also a bit sad that my ball, which they were sure was heading for the green, was stuck in a sand trap.

I also hope you’re into playing tournaments because there’s not a lot else to do. You can play individual events if you want, which also allow you to play as pro golfers and celebrities like Steph Curry and Michael Jordan for the first time, but that doesn’t really shake things up. The one thing which really stands out as an alternative is the game’s incredibly deep course creator, which lets you make your own 18-hole vision come to life. There are a lot of options here and a ton of ways to customize them. While I imagine PC players will probably have more fun with this using a mouse, players who want to recreate some of their favorite courses or bring their own visions to life will find the tools they need to do so. There’s also a new Topgolf mode that lets you emulate the party golf game, which has come to many big cities. This has you trying to land your balls on specific targets. It’s fun enough as a multiplayer option and a nice dash of variety, though it feels like it could be more in video game form if the developers (or possibly Topgolf’s owners) were willing to dream bigger.

 

Conclusion

 

At its core, PGA Tour 2K23 is the excellent golf game I’ve been missing in recent years. A new three-click swing system opens the game up for players who didn’t care for the analog swinging of old. I’ll be playing way too many hours of this one in the months to come, even if the series could still use some work on its presentation and a bit more variety.


Final Verdict: 4/5

Available on: PS5 (Reviewed), PS4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PC ; Publisher: 2K Sports; Developer: HB Studios; Players: 4; Released: October 14th, 2022; ESRB: E for Everyone; MSRP: $69.99

Full disclosure: This review is based on a copy of PGA Tour 2K23 provided by the publisher.

Andrew Thornton
Andrew has been writing about video games for nearly twenty years, contributing to publications such as DarkStation, Games Are Fun, and the E-mpire Ltd. network. He enjoys most genres but is always pulled back to classic RPG's, with his favorite games ever including Suikoden II, Panzer Dragoon Saga, and Phantasy Star IV. Don't worry though, he thinks new games are cool too, with more recent favorites like Hades, Rocket League, and Splatoon 2 stealing hundreds of hours of his life. When he isn't playing games he's often watching classic movies, catching a basketball game, or reading the first twenty pages of a book before getting busy and forgetting about it.

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