Tag Archives: Golf

The Golf Club 2 review

If there’s one sports genre whose video game adaptations have largely been ignored over the last half decade, it’s golf. Mini golf titles are a dime a dozen right now but when it comes to actual golf the number of titles released can be counted on one hand. And those that have been released have been pretty mediocre; good ideas and gameplay wrapped up in something less than adequate. The original Golf Club brought us a closer simulation of the game than titles such as EA’s PGA Tour franchise had delivered. And it was fun, too. The problem was slow loading times and some niggling bugs bringing the whole title down a bit. The Golf Club 2 fixes those issues, and with no competition to speak of it absolutely dominates the genre.

The Golf Club 2 continues to simulate the actual game. You swing the club with the analogue stick and rely on skills, control and a little luck when it comes to hitting the ball straight and true. The unique selling point with The Golf Club 2 is there’s no trajectory lines or power meters, it’s a simulation. Instead, you can change the camera to get better views of each hole, spotting the distance markers along it, and it’s up to you to hit the ball with the right club at the right speed and strength, determined entirely by your swing, to bring the ball down where you want it. It’s hard to succeed at, but hugely gratifying to pull off.

Indeed, in that way The Golf Club 2 very much captures the spirit and skill of the real thing; you need to read the fairways, take note of the wind, understand your club choice and appreciate the physics of the ball. It’s great stuff, difficult stuff but still great. Moreover, with EA having not produced a PGA Tour game in several years, there’s nothing else that really speaks to the serious golfer when it comes to video games, and in comparison The Golf Club 2 is a far more comprehensive title that EA’s disappointingly shallow one.

Sliders and cosmetic options allow you to create your own custom character, with in-game currency earned from playing being used to buy more elaborate clothing. This currency can also be spend on building your society, essentially a club, with member’s fees and club tournaments adding a nice social option to the game. It’s then off to pre-made or custom made tournaments with a wide selection of courses. Better still, many more courses are available online thanks to the community creating their own, with a nifty editor allowing you yourself to get in on the course creation action. As such there’s a huge amount of content that you can play as individual games or as part of lengthy sets.

Furthermore, some terrific visuals truly brings each course to life, with the vegetation casting dynamic shadows over the fairways and greens and really immersing you in the natural beauty of each location. The locations themselves have wonderful variety to them, running the gamut from desert to tropical. Meanwhile, the crucial physics of the ball are excellent, with the wind adding enough unpredictability to keep matches interesting. You can rarely guarantee a victory, or even a loss. Things can go wrong for you and the AI at the drop of a hat. And indeed that’s how it should be, although it does feel occasionally like there’s some rubber banding going on.

However, as excellent as it all looks and plays the lack of official PGA recognition does hurt it. Much like with Pro Evolution Soccer verses FIFA, The Golf Club 2 just doesn’t have that authenticity behind it to truly win over golfing fans. Meanwhile, a lack of true online multiplayer severely limits the competition to local play and asynchronous sessions against ghosts. Although, those currently playing the course at the same time as you online occasionally show up, but playing against your friends in a closed session isn’t available. The simulation factor also makes it highly inaccessible for newcomers to video game golf.

Indeed, the Golf Club 2 is a brilliant golfing simulation with a huge variety of courses, made practically unlimited thanks to community created content, but while the licensing can be ignored the lack of true online multiplayer is hugely disappointing.

Thanks to Xbox and HB Studios for supporting TiX

The Golf Club 2 set to score hole in one

Golf games don’t immediately strike a chord or give the average gamer an itchey wallet feeling that means you have to blow your hard earned money on the latest golf offering. Also it’s fair to say that most golf games are quite cartoon like nowadays and often live on the front screen of your mobile phone. The Golf Club 2 has been tipped by one of it’s producers as the Minecraft of Golf Games, this has yet to be seen to be honest.

With most of the concentration being on Golf Societies from watching the trailer it appears that playing actual golf isn’t what Golf fans want. Maybe it’s time we all pop on some long socks and short trousers and give Golfing a try.

Players can get a head start on their career and pre-order The Golf Club 2 now. They will receive the “Day 1” edition which includes the following bonus content:

 

  • Moneybags – Save time and get rich quick with an instant payout that will boost your career and give you serious purchasing power
  • Elite Club – Make your competitors jealous and stand out among the crowd with an exclusive 24K solid gold driver
  • Premier Clubhouse – Gain access to an exclusive high society clubhouse for you and your friends
  • Heirloom Apparel – Play in style with a throwback outfit from the golden age of golf
  • Elite Emblem – Add class to your Society logo with a signature badge

If you want to know more head HERE for some in depth information about what The Golf Club 2 has to offer.

Preview

In the midst of the Hampshire countryside, with perhaps the most placid and picturesque studio view I’ve ever seen, you’d be forgiven for thinking Three Fields Entertainment were working on something a little more peaceful, a little more… zen. Instead, they’re making something arguably far more exciting.

Since its incorporation in early 2014, Three Fields have been working tirelessly on Dangerous Golf. It’s as much of a golf game as Burnout is a driving simulator. There’s no fiddling around with five irons here – just a massive injection of relentless destruction and purified fun into a genre begging for rejuvenation.

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Those familiar with the Burnout series will immediately feel right at home with Dangerous Golf. Think of it as Crash Mode but with golf balls instead of cars and everyday objects instead of traffic. Whilst admittedly on a smaller scale than a six-lane intersection filled with timber lorries, Dangerous Golf’s environments are intimate, realistic, and absolutely packed to the gills with seemingly very fragile things.

Right from the off, Dangerous Golf starts in a truly irreverent and typically British fashion, setting the tone for the rest of the game. In the first of a series of truly delightful puns, players will encounter the Smash Nav – the dashboard for getting around Dangerous Golf’s various modes—all of which take place in four key locations: an immaculate palace ballroom, a fully-stocked hotel kitchen, a medieval castle, and a classic gas station. All four locations are impeccably styled; bathed in gentle, natural light, each exuding individualistic character and charm.

My first encounters were in a glittering ballroom, carefully prepared for a state dinner, I’m sure. Tables were stacked high with silver goblets; magnums of champagne littering the room, priceless heirlooms at every turn. You can’t help but be awed by the sheer level of detail and density here. A fleeting sense of guilt crossed my mind, as a flag popped up in the distance and I was presented with a golf ball blazoned with “Three Fields Entertainment”. But this soon passed, as I thwacked my ball into the towering goblets – it’s Direct Line’s problem now.

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Each and every object in the room is real, carefully designed to break down in the most authentic and satisfying way possible. Even the surfaces, which Three Fields refer to as “materials”, are designed to behave exactly how you’d expect them to: physically, visually, and aurally. In one particular stage, lovingly named “The Vase and The Furious”, the glass behaves exactly how you’d expect it to upon meeting a high velocity golf ball. Smashing up state ballrooms has truly never been this realistic.

Smashing up state ballrooms has truly never been this realistic.

In order to achieve this degree of authenticity, Three Fields are utilising highly advanced technologies from both Epic and Nvidia to deliver a game that pushes physics harder than most. Each and every object has realistic physics data associated with it, based on real-world equivalence, which are then processed in-game upon impact. This was particularly noticeable in the hotel kitchen, where a selection of lovingly prepared fruit tarts lined the worktop. Ingredients were stacked up tall underneath; utensils, pots, and pans everywhere else. Needless to say, it was left in an utterly tragic mess after I was done with it.

When it comes to tee off in Dangerous Golf, there’s no club, no angle or elevation to worry about. Just smack the ball wherever you want. Players must make sure, however, they destroy the necessary number of objects with their first shot in order to get… you guessed it, a SmashBreaker. This is the moment the ball transforms into its final form: a molten sphere of rage and destruction, relentlessly decimating anything in its path as it gets hotter and hotter and hotter. At this point, nothing stands a chance. Petrol pumps are blowing up, grandfather clocks disintegrating, and bookshelves collapsing in on themselves. There’s beauty in this destruction.

In the midst of all this mess, I couldn’t help notice a lone flag in the distance. This is still a golf game, after all, which evidently I had forgotten following my momentary rampage. Keeping with the game’s philosophy, you don’t have to be a golf aficionado to complete the shot, pot the ball, or whatever it is golfers say. Roll it in, shoot it with a trail of fire, or whack it blindly into the air, pulling both triggers to smash it down into the goal – just make sure you come out of it looking as slick as possible.

There’s beauty in this destruction.

One of the most surprising parts of Dangerous Golf is its turn-by-turn co-op offering, where players must work as a team to rack up the points – or alternatively, risk success by one-upping your partner’s score, leaving them in a tough spot with nothing left to destroy when their turn comes around. Risk and reward is carefully balanced, with huge team bonuses available for successful shots – and almighty penalties for failure. Giving your buddy just enough slack to pull through, whilst being careful not to let them encroach on your massive score, is the strategy here. Competitive co-op at its finest.

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It’s only after a while you discover how much deeper (and crazier) Dangerous Golf really is, compared to its earlier stages. Later on, things start to get pretty insane. Everything from laser targeting, sticky bombs, and perhaps the most dastardly modifier of them all: wheelie mop buckets, become essential, tactical tools in the player’s arsenal to reach those dazzlingly high leaderboard positions. This isn’t some casual facelift of Burnout’s crash mode. Dangerous Golf demands thought, tactics, and a complete disdain for personal property.

Dangerous Golf is one of those games that nails everything: it’s stunningly beautiful, it’s an unprecedented technical marvel, and it’s just pure fun. In a generation where fun has taken a step back behind technical excellence, it’s refreshing to see it back in full force, kicking and screaming. As Criterion sought to reinvent some of gaming’s most notable genres, so too are Three Fields Entertainment. They’ve managed the impossible. They’ve made golf fun.

Dangerous Golf hits Xbox One early this June.

Rory McIlroy PGA Tour review

After a short hiatus, EA Sport’s PGA Tour is back, with Rory McIlroy as its new face, but with an extra year to prepare for the series’ debut on the Xbox One, have the high expectation of fans been met?

Rory McIlroy PGA Tour is certainly a big release for golf enthusiasts, especially with so few golfing alternatives, and pleasingly this is another excellent facsimile of the sport. The option to use three control methods allows newcomers and veterans to jump in with ease, with the 3-click system harking back to days of yore, and the analogue swing system proving as reliably accurate and enjoyable to use as ever. Additionally you can customise the controls, taking away or adding modifiers that aid you on the course – from a trajectory arch that takes into account wind, to after-touch spin on the ball – it all comes together to help you create the ideal control system for your style of play.

The modes on offer appear thin on the ground, and are certainly missing some content, but successfully incorporate many of the features from previous iterations. Stroke play allows you to play any course as a one-off game, with local multiplayer for up to four players. Meanwhile, the single player specific options are Career or Night Club. The latter incorporates many of the mini-games from previous titles into a common theme of playing at night. The courses take on a very different look and feel in the floodlit, neon lights, and the comical golfers you can play as and unlock give a nice sense of casual fun and humour to the otherwise simulation golf. You’re tasked with completing objectives and trying to earn a three star rating, with objectives running the gamut from scoring points by making accurate shots down the fairway into different coloured circles, to flinging the ball through hoops in the air. It’s a great way to have some golf related fun in small, manageable sessions.

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If you choose to take things online then you’re greeted with the usual PGA Tour options of Head-to-Head as well as Weekly and Daily Tournaments. These modes once again offer a simple and easy way to compete with others online, either through a simultaneous round of golf, or by competing for leaderboard places in the tournaments. They’re fun and practical online options but disappointingly predictable.

You’ll find the meat of the experience in the Career mode, although there are some glaring omissions. You create your own golfer to climb the ranks and join the pros in the PGA Tour, but the customisation options are horrendously austere. A handful of faces and additional options are available to build your character, so few in fact that it’s unlikely you be able to create a character that looks at all how you want it to; creating an avatar of yourself is impossible. Furthermore, your stats are automatically upgraded as you progress, with options unlocking for how these are distributed, allowing you to focus on specific traits such as accuracy or power. It’s a great option for those not interested in diving into the stats, but for the many that do enjoy the full micromanagement of growing your character, this is a compromise that’s difficult to stomach. It’s a big disappointment that eats away at your level of immersion during the mode; not feeling like it’s entirely your character makes their wins and losses less personal and significant.

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Fortunately you can create female characters as well, although representatives from the LPGA are entirely absent, and of the PGA personalities only a few join Rory McIlroy. However, the worst omission is certainly the lack of real-world courses.

Of the 13 available courses at launch only eight are real-world locations, missing are the likes of Torry Pines, Pebble Beach, Spyglass hill, and most egregiously Augusta, meaning there’s also no Masters Tournament to enjoy. The courses that are present look spectacular and have been digitally recreated marvellously, but the omissions are a big knock.

The fantasy course are excellent, though, showing off the creativity of EA Tiburon. The Paracel Storm map from Battlefield 4, reimagined as a golf course, is particular eye-catching, and the commentary from Frank Nobilo and Rich Lerner is comical and impressively rich as you play it. In fact the commentary overall is mostly excellent, relating to the player, your tournament position, past performances and crowd atmosphere, it’s highly immersive stuff. They do of course trip up on occasion, ridiculing you for a shot that actually performs splendidly, and vice versa, additionally they repeat a lot of comments when playing the same courses.

PGA Tour 3

Visually Rory McIlroy PGA Tour largely looks stunning. The fine detail is very impressive, with the grass and vegetation looking rich and the mud and sand looking menacingly real. There are even neat little touches such as flies buzzing around the green and divots from a ball landing. Moreover, the course is now fully loaded when you play it, removing loading times between holes as well as the possibility of being out-of-bounds, it’s a terrific use of the Frostbite 3 engine. However, frequent pop in of vegetation is a glaring visual oddity that proves to ruin the immersion every time it occurs.

Rory McIlroy PGA Tour is an excellent golf game, but not quite the title fans have been hoping for from the legendary series. A lack of courses, golfing personalities and character customisation options really hurt what is otherwise a fantastic simulation of the sport. It is, however, an excellent starting point for newcomers to the series, and with DLC on its way, some of it free, here’s hoping it fills in some of those gaps for the veterans. But the overhaul to the character creator and character progression system is something that fans are likely going to have to wait for a new title for, which could be a ways off.

Thanks to Xbox and EA for their support 

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Rory McIlroy PGA Tour course shortage woes

If you’ve been playing the newly released Rory McIlroy PGA Tour game, then you would have no doubt of noticed the lack of courses on offer.

Only 12 courses are available at launch, with only eight of those being real-world locations.

But fear not, fellow golfers, EA will be releasing DLC.

“Paid DLC” I hear you cry “that’s bull plop! I aint paying for courses that should have been included in the game at launch!”

Well worry not, my angry friends, EA have promised free content updates post-launch, as seen here in this tweet:

PGA Tour EA Tweet

Furthermore, in a forum post on Operation Sports back at the beginning of July, designer Justin Patel indicated that this latest iteration of PGA Tour will be a platform rather than a annual iteration, with content being added to it as and when it’s developed.

Operation Sports Forum EA PGA Tour

It all sound like a bright future for the title, though sharing this information more freely may have held the wolves at bay come reviewing the launch product, eh EA?

The Golf Club Review

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The first real golf simulation game for Xbox One is now available from the Games Store as The Golf Club. Developed by HB Studio’s, The Golf Club is serious business for golf gaming fans complete with its own course designer allowing you to set challenging holes for players on Xbox LIVE. With some features that rival the PGA Tour series, virtual golfing with this simulator can be a satisfying experience. It may lack the licensed players and courses based on their real-world counter-parts, but The Golf Club is a raw, stripped bare title where it’s one man and his 7-Iron with potentially unlimited courses so long as you have plenty of free time to explore them all!

Straight from the main menu that itself resembles a modern Windows Metro application, you can choose from a variety of options that include playing just a round, a whole Tour or even a full-on Tournament. For new gaming golfer’s or just to get you back in full swing again (if it’s been awhile) it’s worth practising out on just a Round to get used to the controls and the thinking process behind the accuracy of your shots. Unless you have extra controllers and more friends or family who want to challenge you, you will be limited to just Stroke Play mode (solo) because the game doesn’t allow for online gameplay with multiple players. If you’ve just dropped what you’re holding or even spat out something you’re drinking and thinking WTF no online multiplayer! The Golf Club is community focussed on course building and sharing as well as statistics and competitive scoring against your Xbox LIVE friends and other members of the community. I wasn’t all that bothered about the lack of online multiplayer lobbies because it was generally quite refreshing not having to wait all that time for other people to take their shots!

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Once you are more familiar with the game and its functions because with any golfing simulation practise, practise and more practise still doesn’t quite make perfect; you might try a Tournament or two and Tour some competitions?  You could be fully competent on the fairway, but a little rusty on the Green or vice-versa but at least the more familiar you become with The Golf Club, the less intimidating it becomes – especially for newbies! In both of these modes you do at least encounter online “Ghost” players who are taking their shots alongside you. Gameplay in short is pure golf, no other way to dress it up other than you swing, hit the ball and use your judgement against wind direction, terrains and distance with clubs to get as near to the hole as possible with the least amount of shots. You’re always going to hope for at least a Par with Birdies and Eagles being a bonus. Then you repeat your efforts on each hole, over a selection of official or community made courses. The great thing about golf is that no two rounds are ever the same, and it really is very competitive and addictive.

If you are the creative type of individual with a perfect course in mind or an idea at least of something spectacular to test your limits, then you could create it in the included course designer menu which allows you to first choose a theme setting from rural greenery, alpine mountains, autumn forests, desert or rough links. Once you’ve got the ideal backdrop, you can then think about terrain options for your trees, water and hills followed by how many holes on your course and its difficulty. Once you have the basics all set, you can then tweak many other available options that include rough land, hazards, edges, pars, bunkers, and a whole lot more. It is worth spending some considerable time in the designer to adapt yourself and get familiarised with process; it also has a marker that can be rotated around the course like a mouse cursor to select the objects you want to enhance. If you have ever played Halo before, you could think of the course designer as the Forge golfing equivalent. It has a vast array of tools to build any form of course that you wish; it may not at first appear to be all that straight forward, but you do soon learn how to tweak all that you need to or go for randomiser if you want to allow random selections – and additionally you can even go straight in and test your new course at any time in the creation process.

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The Golf Club is a great golfing simulator and has the best course designer I’ve seen in quite some time where you can spend hours upon hours crafting the perfect course with a full 18 set of holes, but it has only one downfall which doesn’t in any way hinder the whole experience, but still worthy of a mention – the visual quality. The Golf Club’s graphical quality is not all that great for what may be high expectation on a next-gen console. With jagged edges, pop-ins and environments that still load on screen as your ball is shooting through the air, then out of nowhere a tree just magically appears! It’s a minor flaw, but one you can’t help but notice.

If you’re not familiar with golf simulation on console or PC, then I cannot recommend The Golf Club enough as a great title to get you introduced to the complexities of swinging a great shot. It’s an addictive, yet relaxing game without all the glitz and over-the-top presentations that feature in most PGA Tour titles. The Golf Club is the best community focussed golfing simulation of all time where publishing your own courses is as easy as Minecraft. It offers endless hours of entertainment and can be enjoyed even if you’re not a golf expert.

Well recommended for Xbox One gamers from thisisxbox.com, thank you to PlanOfAttack for the review code.

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The Golf Club Is Now Live on Xbox One

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Canadian developers’, HB Studios, has announced that their golf simulation title, The Golf Club is now live on Xbox One bringing the best of golf simulation and a course designer! The Golf Club combines the in-depth functionality of a course designer while simultaneously providing an exciting and engaging golfing experience on Xbox One.

The Golf Club is a fully featured golfing experience where users can play against friends’ and rivals’ best rounds in turn-based/asynchronous competition modes enhanced by cloud-based technology. The game supports Tours & Tournaments, stroke play, match play, and 4-ball.

The Golf Club’s Greg Norman Course Designer allows players to build an unlimited number of golf courses, which can then be shared and played with friends online. New courses can be generated in a matter of seconds by selecting a theme, terrain features, and number of holes. Players can then enjoy a full suite of editing tools from changing the time of day to placing hazards and objects to create the ultimate golf challenge. Players can also discover new courses built by friends and the community by filtering through rank and difficulty, as well as interact with new members of The Golf Club through the Message Center.

Priced at $34.99, The Golf Club is now available on Microsoft Xbox One, PC Windows, and coming soon on Sony PlayStation 4. Look out for our review soon!

Xbox One’s Arcade Titles Have 1000 Gamerscore

It was hinted when the Halo: Spartan Assault achievements were revealed that Arcade titles on the Xbox One  could have 1000 Gamerscore when the One launches next Friday. After much speculating, this comment was released by a Microsoft employee. “On Xbox One games are games. All games follow the same policies for achievements and Gamerscore,”. That’s something that I couldn’t agree more with.

What this means is that downloadable launch titles such as Killer Instinct, PowerStar Golf, LocoCycle, Crimson Dragon and all future arcade titles, or I guess I should call them downloadable games now, will also have the 1000 Gamerscore benchmark.

Happy Hunting, fellow score-whores.

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Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2013 Review

Golf, that popular pastime of retired gents, ex-footballers, flamboyant trouser wearers and generally folk who frown upon my dulcet, yet colourful, Northern tones and penchant for Adidas Samba’s is back in our lives and on our 360’s thanks to the annual appearance of the bad boy of the fairway’s latest offering – Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2013. Continue reading Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2013 Review