Hit a ball around a field in your hand.
Golf and video games are a perfect match. There are not many sports which can be enjoyed just as easily alone as with others, which makes the sport ideal for both a bit of competitive play and a quick solo round to improve your game. Which is the reason why Golf games are also suited so well to mobile gaming – generally, knocking out a quick nine holes takes no time at all. So it was with no surprise that the Vita was launched with a Golf game.
But not just any Golf game, the launch title is the latest incarnation of Everybody’s Golf, a veteran of the Sony consoles which has been around now for some 15 years. Anyone who has played one of the previous titles will know what to expect – a brightly coloured arcade Golfing experience with far too much enthusiasm. But those of you more serious Golfers who are just desperate to knock a small ball around a field with a stick should not be dissuaded by the cartoon-like graphics or upbeat soundtrack. Hidden within is an impressively deep Golfing game with more content than you could swing a Caddy at.
The single player game comes in the form of either Stoke play or challenges. Stroke play is quite simply knocking the ball around the course of your choice, trying to better any previous scores. It does what it says on the tin and provides a quick Golf fix for those wanting to improve their game or who are just very pressed for time.
The challenges are where the game really takes off. These are a selection of tournaments across 9 or 18 holes against AI players. Placing first in these tournaments earns stars, of which a certain number are needed to unlock the next level of tournaments. It is all fairly straight forward stuff which, whilst not perhaps offering the deepest of campaign modes, leaves the player knowing exactly what they need to proceed.
Much like the real-world game of Golf, there is a certain amount of skill and judgement to this game that comes through practice. Some of the holes will be more difficult than others, with bunkers and trees forcing the player to choose safety over an impressive score. The player also needs to take into account things like the wind before hitting their ball and wondering why it ended up out of bounds. Even the putting is something that comes with experience, judging the direction and speed of the little dots that run along the grids of the green in order to make that putt from such a distance away. The game can be quite unforgiving, with one mistake resulting in an entire tournament having to be started again from scratch. But that is how Golf should be.
When it comes to control schemes, Everybody’s Golf should manage to tick everyone’s boxes. From the standard three button press scheme, which is my personal favorite, where you start the swing, press again to choose the power and a third time for the precision, to the slightly more gimmicky methods which make use of the unique Vita features, such as playing the entire game using the touchscreen, everyone is catered for. The Vita functions don’t stop with the controls, and there are plenty of other ways to show off your shiny new handheld to friends whilst enjoying a relaxing game of Golf.
Besides playing and looking incredibly good, the most compelling reason to pick up this game is surely the collectibles. The player earns points whenever they play which can be used purchase a massive number of items, from clothes to music, to customise your game. There are even new characters to unlock. The player begins with only a couple of characters, so adding some new ones certainly expands the experience. But each character levels up individually, through a Loyalty meter, so taking a new character will mean losing all of those improvements that have been made to previous characters, forcing the player to make some tough decisions.
And where would a Golf game be without multiplayer? Well, still pretty good in this case – the multiplayer is the cherry on this Golf-shaped cake. With a massive number of tweaks that can be made to multiplayer tournaments, the player can enjoy some competition both locally and online. To keep you coming back every day, there are even daily tournaments to try your hand at, but you had better bring your A game, as these tend to be quite soul-destroying.
Golf is fairly simple when it comes to video games. Really, the mechanics have been there for years and it is pretty difficult to get them wrong. However, Everybody’s Golf brings gorgeous visuals, a nice selection of events and so many collectibles to the table, ensuring that there is always something for the player to do. It may look cute and cartoony, but beneath the fun-filled veneer is a Golf game that could easily give the Tiger a run for his money. Undoubtedly one of the best Vita launch titles.