“Outlaw Golf”, normally a title like that would kill me. Knowing that I would review this game, I decided to take a peek at the cover from the “Gamecube” version, which was lying on the shelf of a store in Leuven. (It is a good store by the way, you can find games from €15 until €60 and they are almost always noticeably cheaper than they are in other stores. I could pass along the name of the store, but I refuse to make publicity for free.)
“This isn’t your daddy’s golf game” (how’s that for a preoccupation), “Play golf with strippers and ex-cons and wannabe rappers.” Sitting at the diner table, I read the Dutch translation out loud and I could tell by the way my mother was looking at me, that it was the most stupid thing for me to have done. A literal translation from English to Dutch made it even worse. Don’t take me for a snob, but I would have done a better job and so does everyone who finished high school.
Such commentary, I think, is a good indicator for bad games trying to make up for it by putting a lot of features which are not worth mentioning or are simply not worked out well on the cover. Still, ever since I saw “Disney’s Golf”, the idea of an unusual – perhaps arcade – golf game which focuses on fun and entertainment instead of official leagues and simulation (like Tiger Woods) was burnt into my brain as it would be on a WORM(Write Once Read Many). I am not criticising Tiger Woods , only suggesting that there can be a difference approach to certain games.
I set high hopes and I didn’t want to spoil everything by not knowing how to play, so I took 5 five minutes to browse through the tutorials. I must admit that this was everything it should be: short, clear and useful help presented with a video and a voice-over so I don’t need to read anything. 5 minutes later and I could start playing precisely knowing how.
After a while you’ll be able to choose from a lot of game modes, but for starters it is only Exhibition and Tour. I think it is quite impossible to think of a mode that is not included. There are two-player modes, stroke, match, skins and more. You will have to play for money, for most holes, for the least amount of points, … but in the end it is plain and simple, just make sure you get the ball in the hole as fast as you can.
Now, the cover is deceiving because the golf gameplay isn’t arcade at all. It’s actually quite hard to get used to. The classical golf-controls are gone. To adjust the power and swing your club, one needs to pull both analog stick back and whenever the power meter reaches the right amount, you’ll have to push both analog sticks straight forward. If the analog stick slightly deviates your shot will be totally screwed. One can also choose where to hit it. Like hitting the ball on the top will result in more spin which makes it roll further after landing. This might require some actual golf-knowledge so the gameplay is more simulation and it might take a wile to get used to.
Gameplay wasn’t what I expected but it was not bad at all. Everything that has to do with sound however is. Comments and quotes are extremely repetitive and the music.. well I simply don’t know how to express it, but there might as well be none. The sound effects are not too good either, they could as well be just ripped of a psone game. Good was a euphemism by the way.
When it comes to graphics, it is a bit more complicated. At first, everything looks quite alright. Characters are real, with a lot of detail, the scenery and trees are OK and the crowd seems to be more realistic than in let’s say NHL. I once hit a ball off course and it wound up on a street. That in particular was not too bad either, but the cars that were passing by …, I mean a wheel was literally a “5 pixel block-jelly” and they went through the body of the car, who are themselves worse than the one’s in “Time Crisis: Project Titan” for psone. Perhaps the chief-programmer’s son was able to program only these cars and some kind of kiss-up couldn’t resist to implement them. I would have left them out, they do more harm than good. Hmm, perhaps I am becoming a nit-picker.
“Outlaw Golf” has an arcade-concept, but simulation-gameplay. Both are good, but one should be warned about the unmarked combination. Once used to the gameplay it is fun and challenging and most of the time the graphics are nice. Sound nevertheless is bad all the way, but since you can adjust everything in the options and it is a golf game, this is a poor excuse for leaving it on the shelf. After all, this is a pretty good game and in its genre it should definitely be ranked top 5. Which won’t be too hard considering the amount of golf-games.