Golf. It's a flippin' hard game! To become a decent golfer you need an all-round game; a good solid swing, sweet ball contact, nifty approach shots and skill-full putting. So it's no surprise really that most people stick to just playing it on a console. But there's not really much choice as you've either got EA Sports Tiger Wood Franchise, or...erm...well that's it - until now!
The long running Everybody's Golf game (or Hot Shots Golf if you're from America), has been keeping a steady balance of realistic golf gameplay and fun, anime-like presentation. Developers Clap Hanz have finally transferred the title across to the PlayStation3 - but does it live up to the previous titles and more importantly, does it get anywhere near the realistic Tiger Woods?
Well it's probably worth mentioning first that this is not Tiger Woods PGA Tour Golf, nor is it trying to be. Clap Hanz have taken a totally different slant on the golf genre and they always have. To be totally honest, it's actually a really refreshing change to play a golf game with an element of fun and silliness, whilst still keeping the core golfing values.
Firstly, as expected, Everybody's Golf: World Tour is in High-Definition - and it looks great! Each and every course has been carefully modelled to look as real as possible. It's amazing to notice that a game that is going for a more cartoon-like feel to the graphical element of the title has actually managed to pull off some great looking courses.
Whilst we're on the subject of courses, it's worth mentioning the great attention to detail on how the courses are actually laid out. Throughout the game, you're required to unlock the next course (we'll go onto that soon enough) with the first couple of courses being relatively simple to hit the fairway on, but as you progress, improve on your own skill and that of your character, you'll soon find the courses bump up in difficulty - a very welcome addition.
Another very welcome addition to the title is the brand spanking new Advanced Shot system implemented into the swing mechanism. Whereas before you simply had a bar at the bottom of the screen and was required to time your button clicks for power and accuracy, the new system implements a slightly more interactive feel.
Firstly, you click your button to start the backswing and as you do so, you will see a "ghost-like" transparent club at the top of your backswing, representing 100% power. So if you're going for a full on whack, you'll need to wait until your characters back swing hits that 100% mark and then click your button. This makes it trickier if you're going for a 70% shot, or something with a lot less than 100% power, as you'll have to guess the percentage based on the backswing.
Once you've got your power, you'll start your front swing. As the club comes back down onto the ball, a white circle will start to close in on the ball and the idea is to time the third click for when that circle is right in the middle of the ball itself. The closer to it you get, the better shot you'll hit. Click too early and you'll send the ball slicing over to the right; click it too late and it'll hook left.
The same three click system is there, but it just feels a bit more personal, and a lot more enjoyable. It's by far my preferred method of swing, adding an element of skill and timing to your hit - similar to that of real golf.
As mentioned earlier, there's plenty to unlock. To start with, you'll have access to two bog standard characters - one girl, one boy - and one course. You'll need to play through the course a few times in various small tournaments, and build up enough experience to play stroke play against each new character. If you beat the character, you'll unlock them, and progress to the next course - unlocking that too.
Throughout the game, you'll be rewarded for playing well also. New balls and clubs will change your characters ability, such as giving you more power (although you'll sacrifice some accuracy in the process), whilst gaining loyalty points (points for playing the same character on each course) will increase that characters shot skills such as their shot power, spin or accuracy. Whenever you win, you'll be rewarded in some way - which is also a great addition.
To add even more to the game, each and every character have been carefully mastered to look and act great. Each one of them will add a new dimension to the game, with their own unique (and sometimes rather funny) personalities. Each Golfer will have their own special ability, some being great with ball control and spin, but rubbish at power. Some even have course likes and dislikes, such as one of the characters hating the rain (so if it rains, they'll play badly) or loving the bunkers.
So what are the down-falls of this game? Well there are a few that sadly slap the games great qualities in the face a little. Firstly, there are only six courses. Although that's probably not a major issue, it can get a little dull when you find yourself playing the same course seven times in a row! Secondly, some of the characters and especially the caddies are seriously annoying. Hearing "Great shot!" said by the whiny female caddy you start with every single time you hit the ball soon becomes tiresome. As you progress you can unlock new caddies, but there's very little in the way of dialogue variation, which means you may find yourself turning the TV down after a while.
But all of that is forgotten in an instant when you finally get yourself online. Clap Hanz really do deserve us to... clap our hands... at their online efforts as it's a really solid and cleverly thought out system. You can either play eight players in a single game or up to fifty in a tournament! Once you enter the online world, you'll be greeted with a 3D lobby, in which you can chat to other players and take a stroll in the different themed environments. You can even customise your avatar in which you walk about in, right down to the shades or backpack they wear - something you can't do in the single player element of the game for some reason.
Once you've finished socialising, you can jump into a tournament lobby which has either been set up by yourself, or someone else. Once you eventually get yourself into an actual game, you'll find that every player plays at the same time. No-one gets in the way, as you'll simply walk or hit through them, but you can still see the progress of the other players as they go through the same course as you. Each hole will have a time-limit, but you'll only be waiting if there are still people finishing the hole.
That's what is so good about Everybody's Golf. Despite the small selection of courses, and minor gripes with dialogue, the game really is addictive, both off and online. Both hardcore and softcore golf lovers will adore this game. The arcade-like feel mixed in with realistic gameplay and fun character creations make this title an absolute must-by for anyone with half a golfing brain.
- Addictive, Fun gameplay
- Superb characters and detailed courses
- Online play is great!
- Not enough courses to play
- Character customisation is limited offline
- Annoying, unvaried dialogue