Everybody’s Golf: World Tour PS3 Review

I’ve never been interested in the sport known as golf. Sitting there watching a guy get his biggest wood out and then smacking a ball many yards, only then to set off walking towards it, taking his time, then smacking it again, hoping to get it into a hole in the ground. The sport just isn’t appealing enough for me. Golf games on the other hand do hit me with curiosity. They seem to make the sport more attractive than it actually is. There’s plenty of golf games on the market now, from Tiger Woods to Mario Golf, all have something going for them, be it realistic or plain arcade fun.

Clap Hanz has been creating golf games for the Playstation brand since 1997, now the fifth carnation of Everybody’s Golf is here with us (AKA Hot Shots Golf in USA), offering players a great golfing experience on the Playstation 3 that’s full of fun for casual or hardcore golf fans alike.

It should be noted that Everybody’s Golf doesn’t have any sort of career or character driven single player mode. It might sound a little disappointing, but the lack of career doesn’t affect how you look at Everybody’s Golf once you start cracking into it. You’ll forget you even bothered thinking about career. The single player is split into three sections. Challenge mode, which is the main bulk of the single player. Stroke Mode, this is just a single play on any of the courses you’ve unlocked so far. The last is training, which is self explanatory.

Challenge Mode is where you’ll be when you play Everybody’s Golf offline. It’s the place that gives you the chance to open up the unlockables. These range from new clubs, characters, character outfits and balls. There’s a lot of content to unlock and the challenge mode is filled with loads of tournaments to beat. Every time you beat these they will allow you to select a card, which reveals what you’ve acquired. Starting as a novice in the first group, you’ve got to make your way through the tournaments until you have filled up the VS metre, then you can go off and beat the “boss” of that skill level and ascend to the next class level.

Blasting through the ten skill levels will take some time but the game does a great job of slowing taking you through the game. The first skill level is really easy and only takes place on the first course. Working your way through them unlocks other courses that gradually get harder. Clap Hanz has done excellent work with how the game raises the challenging level, you never feel as if it’s suddenly spiked up in difficulty from playing the last tournament when moving on to the next. Special rules make their way into the tournaments to either increase or decrease the challenge. It’s a good inclusion as it spices up the gameplay. Things like Big Cup rule make it a lot easier to get the ball into the hole; it’s a big giant black hole that seems to just love to take balls in. Others are extreme weather problems and point handicaps.

It’s the first time ever that the Everybody’s Golf series has gone online. Clap Hanz has created an exceptionally well thought out online mode. When you first get online you are asked to create an avatar for yourself. These avatars represent you in the lobby rooms that people join when they want to play a game of golf. There’s a varied amount of clothing and appearances you can dress up your avatar with. The game gives you the ability to try obscene things like dressing up your dude in a tuxedo suit with a Friday the 13th Jason Mask. Oh, and he could have a pet chicken if he wanted to. It’s the most whacked out part of the game. You are limited at the start to a certain amount of items, but progressing through challenge mode and playing online unlock plenty of more gear to outfit your avatar, just like if you were playing with a Barbie.

When you’ve had fun playing Barbie, you’ll be able to select a lobby and join the other players. The lobbies come in different types, like jungles, indoor clubs, deserts and saloons, although they don’t really do much apart from the physical look. The avatar can interact with some items, mainly sit on chairs and slide down stairwell balconies. A patch has been released recently where a football has been added to the lobby, so people can kick it around. It’s kind of a pointless update and serves no real purpose other than to annoy people when you boot the ball in their face, guessed I should of shouted “FOUR” before hand to give them a warning, mwaha.

Getting into a round of golf online comes with ease. Tournaments are the main attraction. These happen every 15 minutes, and there are 10 different ones for each of 15 minute slots, giving you plenty of choices. Going online without much gameplay behind you will result in a lot of the tournaments being closed. This is due to you not unlocking a certain character or course yet. It can be annoying when you want to join in a huge session but just don’t have the progression for it yet. The more you play, the more the online really becomes its own, with lots of different types of tournaments to enter. If you just want to have fun then you can set up your own rules and cup and invite some friends to come play with you.

There’s no voice communication, so to get in contact with other players in the lobby you need to type using text, using the inbuilt Playstation 3’s XMB text function. A simple press of the R2 button opens up the menu for you to type words that will appear above your avatar’s head. You can also do this in tournaments after you’ve finished a hole and are brought back to the score sheet. There’s also preset text that you can select with the L2 button, but we all know it’s best to insult someone’s bad playing with your own original abuse. The online experience seemed to work mostly without any problems. There was no lag, mainly because there’s not much data to send between systems. You don’t actually see other players play their round, only their results that appear at the end of the hole.

As you can probably tell, Clap Hanz seemed to put a lot of focus on the online. It’s not the only thing they decided to add though. After having the basic bar shot gameplay format for the past ten years Clap Hanz have decided to feature a new “Advanced Shot” mode. This gets rid of the classic bar and instead shows only your player and his club. Pressing X to shoot will make the player do his swing animation. It will show a ghost image of a club to tell you where 100% is. The club also flashes yellow when it goes past the 50% power mark. Pressing again will select the power, and then for a third time you need to hit it when the club comes down to the ball and is within the hit circle area. If you look deeper into it you’ll see that in fact it’s just the traditional three click basic bar shot but with a new skin. Saying that it’s still the best way to play it because it just feels more natural that watching a bar go across. It makes it harder to judge those shots that aren’t requiring full power and at the same time it feels more like you are playing the game of golf. It makes it more fun in a challenging sort of way. It’s still not as interactive as the Tiger Woods analogue swing format, but it beats the old fashion way that’s for sure.

Everybody’s Golf has plenty of different shots and features the typical shots you’ll probably know of, like backspin, forward spin and slicing it to the left or right. Taking it one step further than that are the special shots. These are unlocked as you keep using the same character, rewarding players who keep playing with their favourite golfers. For instance I decided to go with the cute girlie Jasmine (she’s the front cover lady). It was either her or the cowboy dweeb Nick, so I opted for the cute one, makes logical sense.

Every time I levelled up her Loyalty I gained a new upgrade of some sort. First it started with more Power Shots and then it moved onto things like extra costumes and then the special shots. There’s a few of them and they all have specific reasons for them to come in handy. For example the Super Back Spin AKA the Homing Shot is used for when you are near the pin. If you manage to get a perfect shot and land over the hole, then the ball will burn blue flames and spin backwards towards the pin a couple of yards. Others are the Super Top Spin (AKA Rising Shot) and Super Side Spin (AKA Spiral Shot). If you master these then you’ll be at a better advantage for those harder placed shots.

So right now you are probably wondering if there is actually anything wrong with Everybody’s Golf. If truth be told then gameplay wise there is nothing bad at all. One thing that is disappointing though is that unlike the other games in the series, you can’t actually dress up your character. Reasons given were that the character models were that detailed that opting to just give you a selection of colours was less time consuming. Another thing is that there are only six courses in the game. For a golf game, this is very little compared to some other competing titles on the market. Clap Hanz has assured us that new courses, along with new characters, will become available over the Playstation Network (with one course coming out on 19th June), which is great news, but they will cost money.

Just looking at screens of Everybody’s Golf should give you a big example of how great looking the character models are. They are highly detailed and really stand out with rich colours and great animations, complementing the anime style excellently. The courses don’t shine out as well as the models, due to some evil jaggies popping their heads up, but don’t let it put you off as they do have their moments with some varied designs and lush holes to play on. There’s not really much to speak about the sound effects. There’s lots of effects of balls been hit, and hitting things, so expected plenty of that. The courses have niceties with animals, planes, ocean waves and other things creating atmospheric sounds. The music is listenable and quite relaxing; then again it is golf, no need for heavy guitar and the like, not like anything fast is going to happen.

I really can’t stress enough just how much fun Everybody’s Golf is. From the moment you pick up the controller and start hitting your first ball, you come to understand the charm that the game is filled up with. It’s golf at its purist fun. Simple for new comers, yet at the same time deep enough for the hardcore ball hitter. It is pure arcade at heart. If you have the slightest interest in the sport, or just feel like taking a swing at a golf game and own a Playstation 3, then there really shouldn’t be anything stopping you from getting this game. So get your wood out and smack those balls because this game is a hole in one.

8 out of 10
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