PGA Tour 2K21

Game review by
Chad Sapieha, Common Sense Media
PGA Tour 2K21 Game Poster Image
Golf simulator with course editor fosters interest in sport.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

Local and online multiplayer promote social gaming experiences. Course designer encourages creativity. Playing this authentic simulation of golf could foster interest in the real-world sport.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Golfers express joy and disappointment through facial features, body animations. Presenters provide honest commentary on player performance, praising good shots while making note of poor ones.

Ease of Play

Fairly standard controls for a golf game should make it easy for most players to pick up and play. A wide variety of customizable swing and difficulty settings, as well as a golf handicapping system, allows players to customize the level of challenge both against the computer and human opponents.

Violence & Scariness
Language
Consumerism

Names, logos, and products of real-world golf courses and equipment brands -- such as Taylor Made and Callaway -- appear frequently while playing.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that PGA Tour 2K21 is a golf simulation game for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and Windows PCs. The game features real-world courses, professional athletes, and equipment brands. Golf fans are bound to recognize them and could be influenced to make purchases based on their appearance. Local and online multiplayer can provide positive social gaming experiences, which may be bolstered by the ability to set handicaps for a fairer competition between players of varying skill levels. The powerful and accessible golf course editor may provide a robust outlet for creativity for some players. It's possible that playing a simulation of golf could foster interest in getting to know more about and trying the sport in the real world.

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What's it about?

PGA TOUR 2K21 provides players with a variety of golf-themed activities, from playing in tournaments on the PGA Tour to building and sharing golf courses of your own design. It begins with some quick lessons on how to perform a swing. Players use a standard golf game interface -- pull back on a joystick to draw the club back, then forward to swing through -- to strike the ball. Depending on swing assists and difficulty settings, players may have to take into account factors such as lie, swing speed, and spin in order to maintain or improve accuracy. Swing basics mastered, the game moves players on to create a custom avatar for male and female golfers with a variety of skin tones. These characters can be further customized with clothing, clubs, and accessories purchased with in-game cash or earned through play. Players will then have a chance to work through Q-School in order to earn a place on the Korn Ferry Tour, which will eventually lead them to the PGA Tour, where they can attract sponsors and play a variety of regular and major events before vying to win the FedEx Cup, the golf world's biggest prize. Other play modes include casual one-off multiplayer matches online or off, as well as tournaments set up within golf "societies": player-created and -managed clubs that allow for rule and prize customizations. Players can choose to play not just one of the 15 official real-world courses included in the game, such as TPC at Sawgrass and East Lake Golf Club, but courses created and published by other players using the game's course editor, which automatically generates whole tracks from scratch based on a set of player-chosen parameters before allowing the creator to alter and customize virtually every detail.

Is it any good?

This golf simulator isn't quite as polished or pretty as older PGA golf games, but it was clearly created by a group of people passionate about golf. The swing mechanics in PGA Tour 2K21 provide an abundance of customization options, allowing players to make the game as easy or as challenging as they like. On the hardest settings, players will need to pay close attention to the physical path and speed at which they move the joystick, mimicking the way real-world golfers swing clubs. The slightest error could send the ball slicing or hooking off into the woods, making level par no easy task. On easier settings, players need only push down and up to hit it straight and long from the start, scoring like a pro right away. The course editor, meanwhile, is blissfully simple to use, no matter what your experience in game level design is. It can generate an entire unique course in seconds based on your choices of biome, water levels, and changes in elevation, which you can then tweak as much or as little as you see fit. It's an amateur course architect's dream.

Where players will need to settle for something less than exemplary is graphical and technical refinement. You're bound to run into a few minor bugs -- like a ball bouncing off of a tree in a strange and unlikely way -- and some models and characters have a decidedly artificial look compared to other modern sports games. Keep in mind, too, that the fun and fluffy extras seen in many other golf games, such as famous events and golfers from the past, skill challenges, and tutorials presented by real-world pros and instructors, aren't on offer here. This is, in general, a more serious golf experience that includes nothing more unessential than simple player rivalry and sponsorship features designed to add a few supplementary objectives. On the flip side, the ability to create and join societies and set up and participate in custom events is a great feature, allowing players to dictate for themselves exactly how they want to play and compete. PGA Tour 2K21 is a very good golf game with solid mechanics, a great roster of courses, and plenty of customization options with plenty of room to grow in future installments.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about screen time. It will take most players around half an hour to play a round of golf by themselves in PGA Tour 2K21. Do you think you would need to play more than that in a single playing session to feel satisfied?

  • Some people claim golf is a game rather than a sport. What elements should a physical activity have to be classified as a sport?

Game details

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For kids who love sports

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