Everybody’s Golf makes its PlayStation 4 debut and once again tries to make golf accessible to all.
Everybody’s Golf is celebrating its 20th anniversary and developer ClapHanz has clearly put a lot of effort into making this much more than a golf sports sim. Unfortunately the final product feels like something of a shortcoming compared to the developer’s ambition.
Everybody’s Golf is launching with intent to take the world of console golfing online. You could play online tournaments in the previous edition, but gamers can now explore the world around the holes when they venture online. Once you pick one, you’re transported to a hub course featuring online avatars playing rounds or exploring the environment. There are bonus coins and items to be found and this side of the game will likely expand hugely.
However, currently the online areas are extremely laggy during peak times (though this is improving on a daily basis). Walking around the hub stage in jerky slow-motion is not a pleasant experience – although it does run much better at quieter times. You can play Turf War mode where you split into two teams and aim to amass the most points in a set time period. However, it doesn’t ever really feel like you’re playing as part of a team because everyone can run off in their own direction and communication options are limited.
The online world is also largely non-interactive – each hub course has objects in it, such as clubhouses, seating areas and sun loungers, but you can’t actually do anything with them, which is a shame because it leaves the whole thing feeling like a bit of an empty gesture.
Offline, the biggest change compared to previous entries in the series it that you can now explore the Home area. It’s not big (or to scale) but you can wander to the beach, go into the water, fish or drive a golf kart around the singular road if you fancy – although the area is similarly non-interactive like its online counterpart.
Graphics-wise, Everybody’s Golf is actually a bit of a stinker. As we first reported back in April, developer ClapHanz has taken the odd decision to revise the character models so that they look more similar to the Xbox 360‘s avatar creator. The new style is much less forgiving than previous titles, making the character models look disappointingly last-gen. There are also some unforgivable glitches where hairstyles will randomly disappear into a character’s shoulder – it’s something that was commonplace in the PlayStation 1 and 2 era, but really shouldn’t still be happening.
In terms of the actual golfing, there are no major overhauls – the same power meter that has been a mainstay of the genre for two decades is present. ClapHanz has slightly tweaked how you take a shot though, so that no matter how hard you want to hit the ball, the power meter will always fill right to the end before bouncing back to the starting mark. It feels unnecessary (particularly when you only need to putt just a few yards) but presumably the idea is learning through repetition. Each successful shot also increases your experience with the club you used to hit the ball – increasing the maximum length of your stroke, amongst other things. It feels a bit random though, particularly since you’re unlikely to change whatever club the game has picked for you to use.
This marks the first time that Everybody’s Golf hasn’t been released under the Hot Shots moniker in America, so presumably ClapHanz are hoping for some new converts. However if you have played before…well, that doesn’t matter. Everybody’s Golf treats everyone like a newcomer and you’ll still have to sit through reams of characters spouting the obvious, to the point where it becomes a little patronising. Even the advice on the loading screens is, at times, downright insulting to one’s intelligence – the worst being one that details the various camera options, but reminds you that you can’t change the camera angle whilst on the loading screen (!)
To make matters worse, the voice acting is universally dreadful, which is something of an achievement given that even with limited dialogue featured, ClapHanz appear to have found the worst voice actors to provide it.
The reality though is that if you like Everybody’s Golf then you’ll overlook the flaws in this entry to the series. Because underneath the superficial shortcomings, it’s still a solid, competitive golfing game with an already strong online community. Hopefully that side of the game will flourish because with some development, there is the potential for Everybody’s Golf to strike a unique social/golfing balance.
Fans may be happy to see the series arrive on the PlayStation 4. But there is very little about it that feels like you’re actually playing a current gen title – and at times it inexcusably looks much, much worse.