App Reviewed on: iPhone 3GS
Graphics / Sound Rating:
User Interface Rating:
Re-use / Replay Value Rating:
The concept behind augmented reality games is interesting, but while they may have surpassed the horrifically cheesy Virtual Reality attempts from the 80s and 90s they're still fairly gimmicky. Being able to use my phone's camera to hunt monsters, shoot down UFOs or even play golf in a manner that's actually affected by where I'm physically located or looking at is certainly a neat trick. It's just that at the moment, that's all it is; a trick. Par-Tee - Augmented Reality Golf makes a decent effort at creating a kind of real world/video game hybrid, but it's ultimately held back by technological limitations.
Par-Tee is a simple enough game to learn and play. It uses the device's GPS (provided the location services are enabled) to pull up a map of the area. Then players can tap the screen to place a flag and attempt to whack a virtual ball into it. The idea is that it's similar to an actual game of golf where one has to take a shot, mosey on over to the ball's new location, take another shot and so on until the hole has been cleared. I mean this literally, as the ball will travel once it's hit and require users to physically walk closer in order to make a follow-up shot.
It's a neat idea. As odd as it may be to wander around staring intently at the device's screen (okay, maybe not that odd) while tracking down the ball, it's also rather entertaining to reach it and make another swing. One that makes good use of the accelerometer controls.
There are the expected issues with slow-loading images and some lag with the GPS, but the biggest issue I've come across is the sensitivity. Turning causes the screen to swirl about dramatically, which admittedly doesn't have a huge affect on gameplay because once the swing button is pressed it won't reorient, but it's somewhat discombobulating. Another oddity is that the GPS locations seem a bit exaggerated. I don't presume to think I'm any good at golf, but a half-hearted swing sent my ball sailing for over a block. Then I walked all of about fifteen feet and found my blue GPS dot resting comfortably next to the digi-ball. I'd like to think the proportions have been fiddled with so that people don't have to, say, wander miles through the wilderness in order to hit a ball that doesn't exist with their phone, but it's still pretty excessive.
To a certain extent, I expect golf enthusiasts who can't get to a course for whatever reason will enjoy this unique approximation. As will fans of quirky augmented reality stuff. However, until the tech can meet the demands (and ambitions) of developers, Par-Tee is more of a cute trick to show off to friends than much of a time-sink.