There exists a divide within the sporting game genre, on one side of this division you have the serious sports sims which take whatever sport they are based on and attempt to create as realistic as possible a simulation of said sport usually involving the licensed usage of real-life names of the sportsmen and women who play it and faithful recreation of stadiums, courses, tracks or whatever locations the sport is played in. On the other side you have the games which take the basic ideas and principles of a sport and then attempt to build a different experience around them, long time gamers may remember playing football games where the players were all armed to the teeth in the Brutal Sports series on the 16bit machines, another approach taken by titles over the years is to take a sport and presented it in a non-serious and entirely light hearted way - this is the approach that has been taken in Everybody's Golf for PS2.
The sport in question here is quite obviously golf and as mentioned above this is not a serious golf simulation but rather a light hearted offbeat version of it, the developers have studied the book on creating these type of games from cover to cover and taken note on all major points including:-
- Cartoony graphics where everything is to be made as cute and/or shiny as possible
- Upbeat music which can eventually drive the gamer to want to break his/her speakers after a while
- Cute characters with larger than usual heads
- Optimistic and/or encouraging soundbites uttered by in game characters wherever they can be fit
- Easy to pick up gameplay sacrificing depth for ease of use
It's all there.
Pick up and play
Although the game is definitely pick up and play if you know the controls the game does not convey them very well, the training mode simply places you on a golf course with no opponents rather than take you through a tutorial explaining the basics, an odd break from recent gaming tradition in which it seems almost mandatory to include a tutorial mode or try to disguise one as the first level, older gamers may remember the days of actually having to read the manual supplied with a game and this is something I would recommend before playing Everybody's Golf, anyway the basics of the gameplay proceed as below.
The core of the gameplay - swinging golf clubs at golf balls - goes like this.
First you will want to line up your shot, this can be easily done by pressing the start button to get an overhead view of the course clearly showing where you are, where the hole is and how far you can expect to hit the ball with the currently equipped club, in this view you can easily aim in whichever direction you see fit and then return to the normal view. Once that has been done you can use the camera tools to move the view along your proposed ball 'flight path' and check that there are no obvious obstacles or anything in the way and check what type of ground you can expect the ball to land on, then with your chosen golf club in hand and shot lined up to your satisfaction you can take the shot.
Taking shots in Everybody's Golf is a simple affair where you press the Circle button to start the swing which causes a power meter at the bottom of the screen to begin to fill increasing the distance the ball will be hit, once the desired power level is reached you press Circle again and an indicator will begin to move back down the power gauge which must be stopped (again with Circle) as close as possible to a white square at the start of the meter in order to ensure a straight shot, stopping the indicator to the left or the right of its target will result in a hook or a slice with the severity depending on how far out you were.
Essentially the main factor which will determine how good you are at this game is how good your timing is, lining up the shots is easy once you've done it once and you can take your time at it and use the many onscreen figures and readouts to assist you, how well the shot goes and how close to your target you are is entirely dependant on the timing of your Circle button presses, you can opt to play in an easy mode where you only need to worry about setting the power level of the shot and every shot will always be played straight (after accounting for the wind) if you wish to or is you really are bad at timing the final button press.
A nice touch of the power and distance meter is that it will show a 2D representation of the height changes in the land in the direction you are aiming, also if the club you are holding is capable of hitting the ball past the hole an indicator will be placed along it showing how much power is needed to reach the hole.
Putt it away
Putting is slightly different, once you have arrived on the green the putter comes out and the gaming changes slightly, you only need to press the button twice when using the putter once to start the shot and again to set how hard you want to hit the ball (this is what all shots are like in the easy mode mentioned above) after rotating your character with the right analogue stick to aim.
Putting can be awkward at first but you will get used to taking into account factors like the slope of the land quite quickly and you can do yourself a massive favour in terms of improving your putting by playing through the mini-golf mini-game.
The mini-golf mode puts you (no pun intended there) on a sort of crazy golf course where the ball must be hit across bridges or around other obstacles or odd shaped courses with the putter into the hole, the majority of these shots can be done in one hit with a bit of thought and you are aided by the fact that the hole is larger than usual and the ground around it usually slopes down into it on all sides. Playing through this mode will help you immensely with your putting in the main game modes.
Everybody's Golf is designed to look as happy and cheery as possible, the graphics are bright and bold and this suits the mood of the game very well, I didn't see any graphical glitches while playing through and cannot really fault the graphics engine at all as it is perfectly adequate for this game.
Unfortunately the music gets repetitive and thankfully can be turned off just leaving you with the quips and remarks from the people on the golf course, these people will issue the same lines over and over which can get annoying quickly but sometimes their comments will be helpful, you will usually have someone advising you on the lay of the land whilst lining up a shot with the putter for example.
Everbodys Golf will at first seem like a game aimed at younger players or party gamers but after a couple of rounds it can really suck you in and keep you playing on anyway, the only real criticism I have is that it can get repetitive after a while but to an extent this is to be expected with a sports game, the mini-golf and multiplayer modes provide a welcome diversion from the standard tournament mode though.
All in all a fun game to play although I would recommend it as a rent before you buy title as many players would prefer the more realistic and detailed golf sims out there.