The latest version of the popular mainstream golf game, Everybody’s Golf, has just been released for the PS3. This version offers a significant increase in graphical fidelity, as you would expect, along with more mainstream golf gaming features that were absent from previous versions, in particular a new swing game play mechanic. First and foremost above anything else, is the nifty new ability to set up online golf tournaments for up to 50 players. I tried this with a few friends (somewhat less than the full 50), and although it took a whole afternoon it was a hell of a lot of fun, so in multiplayer this game definitely holds its own.
The traditional computer golf shot meter is always in full use, and works well. In World Tour you can either play using this mode which will likely be more familiar to players of other golf games, or switch to the version used by previous titles in the Everybody’s Golf series. The new, more generic golf swing mechanic seems a little too easy to deal with. I’m no golf player, but apparently I’m good enough to shoot perfect shots two out of every three times. The difficulty can be increased, and for those who want more control, more advanced hitting mechanics are available. However, the game AI still seems a little lacklustre, especially in terms of matching the player’s skill. Opponents switch between professional skill and novice clumsiness on an almost hole-by-hole basis, which does jar the sense of immersion a bit.
This AI becomes more mature the longer you play a given game which means that over the long haul, gameplay becomes considerably more satisfying. Also there are quite a few golfing technique unlockables that can be obtained, which adds a nice sense of achievement as a reward for extended play. Overall I found that the game was a bit of a turn off if you just leap right into it, but if you take the time to sit down and give it a decent few hours, World Tour plays a lot better than first appearances might suggest.
In 3D terms World Tour looks great when running with the PS3’s power. The trademark caricatures are still there, and are still cartoonish, but they stand out against beautifully rendered, high definition scenery. The special effects are done with the latest filters and look beautiful. The whole effect, a mix of cartoon and detail, is kind of weird even if the cartoon characters have real time shadows and a high pixel count. Matching the cartoon style is the voice acting and the music, and both perform well. The voice acting suits the theme, and will probably be what turns you off if you’re looking for a serious golf game, but otherwise it’s pretty good. Sometimes the frequency of the phrases spoken can get irritating, but not overly so.
Another enhancement of the graphics engine is that the maps are now much larger. Apart from allowing some
beautiful environments to be built into the game, this also presents greater tactical flexibility when playing the game. For example, nearby holes can be used to get around difficult obstacles. As far as the maps go, many maps from previous titles in the series have been included, as well as six new maps that make full use of the new engine. The Playstation store is also already stocked with new maps, and while there, you can grab new caddies, clubs and clothing. This should provide some extensibility to the game once you have grown tired with the default-packaged offerings.
Overall, Everybody’s Golf World Tour is a fine fifth instalment in the series, and is a good golf game for the PS3, if you can accept a certain amount of silliness in an otherwise strictly professional sport. The longer you play it the more fun and addictive it gets, and while there are some issues, they tend to be confined to minor irritations, so if you can deal with that then this game is a worthy purchase.