When it comes to golf, everybody seems far too keen to quote Mark Twain. Instead, people should look towards Alice Cooper for inspiration: a man who officially traded alcoholism for an addiction to golf because it provided a liver-sparing way to chase the dragon. It is in this that golf lends itself to video games so easily; there is always the chance to do better, to beat the current records.
In this sense, Everybody's Golf: World Tour is a throwback to the video games of yore. Of course, the presentation is leaps and bounds above anything the 1980's had to offer. The gorgeous graphics shine in 1080p, the range of courses and secrets to unlock is enormous, and the game offers an online mode that supports up to 40 players.
Where World Tour feels like a throwback to a simpler time is how it provides a thoroughly enjoyable and addictive experience even though the mechanics revolve around pushing the same buttons over and over again. There’s always time for one more go, always time to do better than before.
Of course, unlike the twitch-based arcade games of old, World Tour, like its subject matter, is about patience. It's about lining up the shot, reading the wind, working out the perfect amount of spin to apply to the ball. Rushing ahead and slamming the ball will only end in tears and disaster.
One of the main reasons this gameplay works so well is because developer Clap Hanz has introduced a brand new shot mechanic. The traditional bar-based shots remain for veteran fans with a distaste for change, but the advanced mode opens up a whole new world of golf.
Advanced shots rely on a visual analysis of power based on the amount of backswing, and with impact being decided by correctly timing the forward stroke – aided by a shrinking targeting circle. Although in essence the game still remains about timing, it’s intuitive and can be picked up by anyone in seconds, meaning that World Tour really is everybody’s golf.
Another way that World Tour manages to make itself completely accessible is through its undeniable charm. The colourful range of super-deformed characters is irresistible, especially the caddies who bolt at a million miles an hour to meet the ball while gasping for breath, exhausted. The deliberately masculine will find it saccharine, but everyone else will simply find it cute.
Each character is unique in terms of presentation and playing style, and players are rewarded with new stats for sticking with characters that they like. Players can use different clubs and balls to cater to strengths and weaknesses, but while character profiles obviously highlight the importance of charm, ultimately it’s about finding a character that fits like a glove – it just helps if the ninja flipping of Sasha, for example, is endearing rather than annoying.
As a single-player game, Everybody’s Golf: World Tour offers plenty of content that will occupy and test even seasoned players. Courses become longer, holes become smaller, obstacles more frequent – the European courses really do inspire memories of Eddy Izzard’s comments on a countryside littered with castles – and the special rules more fiendish. Merely landing in a bunker can often add two strokes to one’s score and handfuls of hair off one’s head.
World Tour also offers plenty of achievements that not only feel like achievements, but also reward the player with unlockable items. Whether it be the first chip-in shot, or the first time a player gets an Eagle, there is plenty of room to experiment. Simply opening up every option will take over 30 hours.
With its addictive and accessible gameplay, torrents of content, and its charming presentation, there is no doubt that World Tour is an excellent single-player affair. However, World Tour also offers a variety of multiplayer modes.
Offline multiplayer allows up to four players to compete on a variety of courses, setting options such as weather and punishments for fouls. It requires everyone to sit through each player’s attempt, but fortunately allows for plenty of humour by letting waiting players congratulate or taunt their opponents during shots.
Online multiplayer offers support for 40 players simultaneously and, fortunately, doesn’t require players to sit through each opponent’s strokes. Instead, players merely have to wait for everyone to finish the course, meaning that the experience, while not as intimate, is much faster.
However, the downside to the online multiplayer is that it requires players to sign up for tournaments and then wait for the tee-off time. Sometimes the nearest free tournament that meets a player’s desired criteria can be hours away, and while it’s possible to whittle away the hours in a lobby of adorable avatars, the lack of voice chat means that talking becomes a rather laborious affair.
Ultimately, however, online play is the icing on the cake, and it is the competition with oneself that motivates and keeps Everybody’s Golf: World Tour firmly in the PLAYSTATION 3 Blu-Ray drive. World Tour is infinite, because one can always do better, always take fewer strokes, and always get that hole in one. As long as one needs to chase the dragon, Everybody’s Golf: World Tour will always be there to provide the chance for that next high.
It’s often claimed that Sony has no good first party games, and that the PLAYSTATION 3 has no good exclusives. Although this has been proven wrong time and time again, Everybody’s Golf: World Tour is yet another reminder that Sony publishes some of the best games in the world. It’s cute, it’s gorgeous, it’s addictive, and most importantly, it’s fun. Those that own a PS3 and are not afraid to play a game without muscles and guns would be foolish to pass up on Everybody’s Golf: World Tour.