Everybody's Golf: World Tour
Maybe it's because I'm getting on a bit in years, maybe it's because I'm a "Family Gamer", or maybe I just feel more comfortable admitting what I really like. Either way, the idea of settling down for a day's viewing of a major Golf tournament is an attractive proposition. Watching grown men battle it out as they inch their way around the course eking out their shots across each hole, has never been more appealing or fascinating to me. It just seems a delightful luxury to settle back and get into the rhythm of a long day's golf coverage.
Thinking about the realities of my busy weeks and weekends actually makes me want to try and get away to bunker down for some golfing cave time. With this in mind, the game in hand today really hit the spot for me. Everybody's Golf: World Tour brings Clap Hands' famous golfing experience to the PS3 for the first time. The game that has been the backbone of the PS2's and PSP's sporting line-up has been largely overhauled for Sony's new machine. The good news is that the developers have preserved the quick and fun play-style and the Japanese cartoon stylings.
Not having played Everybody's Golf previously I was a little surprised at the somewhat 'kiddie' aesthetic. While this seems to disregard the likely demographic for the game, it does have the advantage of appealing to younger players as well as distinguishing itself from the more cerebral Tiger Woods series.
Thankfully, it only took a few rounds before I discovered that beneath the sparkling and exuberant exterior there was a well paced, solid and detailed game of golf. In fact I found the game's physics and world realisation more convincing than Tiger's. It may not have had the photo realistic visuals of EA's big hitter, but ironically it turns out to be the more believable game. Everybody's Golf's physics create a solid connection between the player, ball and fairway. Not only is the three-button hit mechanic easy to understand, but the following ball flight, bounce and travel are always what you would expect within the rendered environments.
Characterisation also couldn't be more different to Tiger. In place of the ability to mathematically map the contours of your face and map your actual image onto the onscreen player, Everybody's Golf: World Tour offers bucket-loads of dress up. Do well in a particular course or competition and you are not only rewarded with points and money, but also an expanded wardrobe. Although not as technically impressive, I found this provided just as much if not more connection to my little onscreen guy or gal.
So far so good, and the following hours were equally fun-filled. Online play was well executed as were the plethora of different single and multiplayer options. There is enough here to keep anyone fully employed for many weeks. The visuals were solid and clear; the audio hooked into the quirky characterisation well and added not a few audio flourishes that even when repeated often brought a smile to my face. This really is a great package.
But for me it was missing one key ingredient - a proper golf swing. I was recently reflecting how funny it was that Everybody's Golf easily out performed the PS3's Tiger Woods only to fall foul of the same Wii golf game from EA. I did try, but I simply couldn't get around the fact that once I had played with the masterly and nuanced (if a little finickety) Wiimote swing I was ruined for anything else. Pressing a button to make the shot now seemed as lame as playing a first-person shooter without the analogue sticks. There was simply no way around this, and before very long with the game I decided to down tools (read: the Sixaxis) and returned, tail between legs, to Tiger Woods on the Wii for my weekly dose of golfing goodness.
Apart from this shortcoming, which is really an issue with the system rather than the game, I thoroughly recommend Everybody's Golf: World Tour. It more than holds its own against the perceived heavyweights of the genre. If you own a PS3 and you've not yet played Tiger Woods (or Wii Sports' Golf) on the Wii I have a suggestion for you: don't play it. Stay ignorant of the glory of that Wiimote golf controller and you'll be able to enjoy this game until the cows come home. If you have played the Wii game, then it really is hard to recommend this. Certainly there is more to do here, and it looks far prettier, but a game, when it comes down to it, lives or dies by its controls. It's just unfortunate for Everybody's Golf that it is on a system that limits it's success. Fingers crossed for a Wii version for me, I think.