Golf. Isn’t too interesting, is it? I mean, to play, it’s a good laugh, a bit of exercise, and you can take out your stress on an inanimate bit of plastic. To watch, not quite so interesting. Unless you’re watching people play Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2005—then, you’re guaranteed to piss yourself laughing.
My fiancée’s first reaction when I bought this game was, “Golf? But that’s boring!” Then she actually played it and I haven’t been able to get on it since. I’ve only got two controllers for my Xbox, and our neighbour is addicted to it as well, dammit!
Seriously—I had no idea a golf game could be this good.
You start off at the beginning of your career as a novice (obviously), and you earn some money for each game you win. This money can be used to upgrade your skills, your clubs, and, to my fiancée’s delight, you can buy new clothing and accessories. There are quite literally hundreds (possibly thousands, I can’t be arsed counting) of items you can buy to customize your player. Each item has a modifier level as well. For example, you can buy a piece of string you wear as a lucky bracelet, which brings your luck up a bit. This area is where a sizable chunk of your winnings will be spent. The rest will be spent upgrading your skills (which will get extremely expensive toward the end).
You can also spend quite literally hours getting your player looking the way you want. You can tweak pretty much everything! If your nose is a bit too big, or you want more freckles, or you want a different hair style/colour, go for it. This part is completely free (well, you can buy new hair colour and stuff, but that’s optional) so you can fiddle until you’ve got a digital doppelganger to play with. My only gripe is that the male and female faces have very slight facial structures no matter what you do, which sort of freaks me out; but as I said, it’s a minor thing that doesn’t affect the overall gameplay.
Now we move onto the gameplay. This game is so deep you won’t believe. Just when you thought you’d played everything it has to offer, you try something you hadn’t noticed before, and you get hooked on that for another bloody five hours! One good example is the minigame T-I-G-E-R. The layout in front of you has about 20 holes, each in a different location at a different elevation, and each has a set of rings around it. You have to get as close to the bull’s-eye as possible. If you land anywhere on the rings, the person you’re playing against has to equal or better that shot, or they get a letter. So basically it’s H-O-R-S-E, golf-style, and it’s incredibly addictive.
Another mode is Legend Pursuit, where you play nine or 18 holes against famous golfers, past and present. Winning these matches can earn you lots of things. You can (obviously) earn a bucketload of cash, but you can also upgrade your status and unlock new courses. Of course, you aren’t going to beat all of them on the first go, which can be frustrating when it comes down to the last hole and you bugger up your last putt; but that’s all part of the game, ain’t it?
Seriously, I can’t explain every mode that you can do in this game because it’ll take up about 5-10 pages, but just know this: There is an absolute shitload of replay value in this baby. The controls are a bit of a mixed bag at first, with them being a little bit complicated, but give it say 20 minutes and you’ll have the controls sussed. There is a tutorial, which is really quite helpful for when you first start, but you really have to play a round or two to get the hang of it.
This game not only plays like…ummm…something really good, but it looks and sounds the part as well.
Everything is smooth and clearly defined. There’s an extremely rare drop in the framerate, but not so much that it affects the gameplay at all. All the famous golfers look (quite freakishly) like their real-life counterparts, and all the courses have been beautifully recreated. My only minor gripe would be that the trees/shrubs look extremely murky up close, and sometimes change colour when the ball flies by. But that’s just nit-picking.
The sound is pretty close to perfect, with some damn catchy tunes for the menus (though you will get sick of the Outkast one, as it gets played too many times). The in-game sound is highly enjoyable, with only the commentary, the background noises, and the *thwock* of your club hitting your ball. The commentary is well done, with some pretty damn funny comments on some of your “not-so-good” shots.
If you love golf, you’ll love this game. If you don’t love golf (like me), then you should love this game regardless. I’m hanging out for PGA 2006, for sure…