Developer: GameLoft
Price: $5.99
Version Reviewed: 1.0.7

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★½☆
Game Controls Rating: ★★★☆☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★★★☆

iPhone Integration Rating: ★★★★☆
User Interface Rating: ★★★★☆

Re-use / Replay Value Rating: ★★★★☆

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

There I sat on Easter Sunday this year trying to quietly enjoy watching The Masters Tournament, but I was continuously plagued by the sounds of “Nice Shot!” and “Chance for Birdie.” No they weren’t coming from the TV but from my roommate’s iPhone. At first glance I thought the game appeared cheesy and overly simplified, but he wanted to play me in the wi-fi multiplayer mode so badly that he gave me the $6.00 to buy it. As it turns out, it was so fun that I actually gave him the money back…ok, thats not true, I’m too broke for that, but I did consider it.

Concept
Put simply, it’s golf, you pick a player, pick a course, choose how many holes, and you swing away, what more do you need?

The game has 4 basic modes, Instant Play (which is similar to a random 3 hole arcade mode), Multiplayer (can be played on the same phone or wi-fi with another phone), Tournament (where you play against 4 other computers to unlock new courses and players), and Free Hole (open arcade mode where you can play any course on any difficulty). So is the overall concept anything absolutely ground breaking? No, but it doesn’t have to be, it’s solid and classic.

img_0025

Graphics & Sound
The 3D graphics in this game lean more to the Nintendo cartoony feel rather then real world graphics and animations, which, for this game, works perfectly. The designers focused more on overall look, i.e. birds flying in the sky and balls leaving trails in the sky instead of seeing sweat drip off of the players after a swing.

The sound on the other hand could use some work. The music and catch phrases used throughout the game become boring and overdone after several rounds of golf. It’s not so much to the point of annoyance but definitely to the point of boredom which would be easily fixed through a couple more songs and sayings thrown into the mix. One of the only major flaws I found in this game is that the sound controls are completely independent of the overall phone sound settings, meaning that even if you have the phone set to silent/vibrate that once the game is started and the opening video comes on, the sound will still be playing at the same level you left it when you were last playing the game. May not seem like a big deal at first, but don’t try to sneak in a quick round on the back 9 during the middle of a meeting or class as you might suddenly find your boss asking you why your phone is whistling… awkward!

Gameplay
One problem I have though is that the game has a higher tendency than most games to crash from time to time. I personally recommend quitting and restarting it after each round to reduce lagging. Fortunately the game developers foresaw app crashes as a possibility and built in an auto save feature that saves up to the last swing of each mode (not including multiplayer wifi) to avoid needing to start whole rounds all over. Lagging can also affect your swings, so don’t try to guess when the lag will jump just let the energy bar go up and down until the lag vanishes, then swing.

img_0028

So once you get past these issues, how’s the game play? Fun! You get two modes to swing the club, either casual or advanced. Casual is a classic tap the filled energy bar method while advanced bases swings on the speed and amount you drag your finger across the screen. I prefer the casual myself for the fun aspect but advanced definitely adds additional challenges to the game. Once hit, you can also add spin to the ball in the air with a simple finger swipe. Wind speed & direction, terrain hazards, which club you use, and the speeds of greens all affect your shots. Tournament mode is very much achievement based, in that over time your able to unlock all 4 courses, 4 players, and 3 difficulty levels. Each player has their own attributes to best fit your playing style… I definitely recommend going for accuracy over power. My one real complaint about the single player gameplay is that after a while it gets too easy to win because the game lets you restart each hole independently in a round. Although this can be a valuable setting if a lag causes you to have a bad shot, I feel like this is almost a form of cheating. If you’re bad at putting you should pay for it and not get to just start over. At the very least I think this feature should be removed from the Hard difficulty.

In the end, the game always keeps you pushing your best score because while it’s very possible to get birdies and eagles on each hole, its certainly not a guarantee.

Lasting Appeal
While this game may not be one you want to play for several hours at a time I see it as always being one you may whip out for a few holes or even challenge your friends at. In addition knowing that 3.0 will allow developers to add level upgrade packs makes me feel like this game could last for years with new courses and levels always being added.

Overall Rating/Recap
Although some crashing and lagging issues exist and some of the sounds get a bit repetitive, the overall game experience is very enjoyable and beating your friends over wi-fi never gets old. While the price point of $5.99 (at the time of this writing) may be a little steep, the game will probably remain on your phone for as long as you’re an iPhone user (forever!!!).

Posted in: Games, iPhone Apps and Games, Reviews

Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , ,