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We Love Golf sees Camelot bring their sports game prowess to the Wii and provides their first chance to try out motion controls. Their pedigree not withstanding - a string of Mario Golf and Tennis hits, conservative controls threaten to make this game something of a light hitter amongst Wii Golf games.
Golf games used to be all about the look of the fairway, the run of the ball on the green, the pre-hole camera fly throughs and even the chirping of localised birdsong as you eyed up your shot. These days however, particularly on the Wii, they are all about the swing.
All golf games on the Wii must live in light of Nintendo's Wii-Sports master class in the golf swing mechanic. However, rather than reading draw, fade and strength from the players real world motion swing Camelot keep to their well worn three stage button backswing-drive-hit mechanic that has been so successful in their other games. Admittedly, here you are moving the Wii-mote in a golfing motion rather than pressing buttons, but the skill is all about accurate timing rather than fluid motion. Draw and fade are selected before the shot with topspin and backspin added afterwards. If this is the first Wii golf game you play it won't seem very odd, but if you have played Wii-Sports, Tiger Woods or Real Swing Golf, being tied to a preordained swing timing is hard to swallow.
These controls will undoubtedly suite some players better than others - those who are used to older golf games, or those who favour a more technical game and certainly those who are frustrated with the hit and miss accuracy of the other Golf games on the Wii. For me though this was an unwanted departure from the magical connection I felt when playing Wii-Sports and Tiger Woods. The flowing motion there (free from complex timing and gauges) leaves the player marvelling over play that simply employed their usual golfing swing. At the end of a session you feel like you have been playing golf, here it is much more of a video game.
A couple of killer features for me were the accurate ball lie and shot power indicators.
The game extends its technically proficiency controls to the remainder of the interface. A couple of killer features for me were the accurate ball lie and shot power indicators. The ball lie not only presented the ball's depth of lie but also any slope on which it stood. From this I could compensate for any fly off that would arise from striking the ball from a banked lie. The shot power indicator was also spot on, giving clear indication where the ball would land and how that related to the power gauge. It is the little touches like this that are testament to Camelot's history with the genre. They certainly know how to put a proper golf game together.
The main game is build around the usual tournament structure, slowly building up the competition in terms of the other players and the courses. Other than this there is the up to four player multiplayer (I'd love to see a golf game offer an eight player option), and the Nintendo WiFi online mode. This is complemented with some ring-passing, target-hitting, ball-putting mini games - quite possibly familiar to Camelot fans, but welcome additions all the same.
But while Camelot have preserved their golfing expertise, they have managed to loose some of the Wii's motion controlled magic along the way.
Throughout these stages, Capcom are not shy in bringing their back catalogue to bear. In addition to being able to play with any Mii on your system - although not in single player mode - you can dress your players in garb from their back catalogue. Not only that but there are a host of familiar characters to be unlocked, ranging from Street Fighter 2's Ryu and Chun Li, Zack from Zack and Wiki, Apollo from Ace Detective to Arthur from Ghosts 'n Goblins.
We Love Golf is a game that delights visually, and is a lot of fun to play. Its solid play mechanic is made accessible to a wide audience through the understandable transparent swing, and top notch user interface. But while Camelot have preserved their golfing expertise, they have managed to loose some of the Wii's motion controlled magic along the way. Many will disagree, and it really is a matter of taste, but for me this is a game that would work just as well without the swing. Tiger Woods 08's swing may be more temperamental, and the game as a whole a tad grumpy, but the joy of its unencumbered golfing motion is one that that stays with you.
This is a delightful first outing from Camelot, and certainly better than EA's first attempt.
That aside, this is a delightful first outing from Camelot, and certainly better than EA's first attempt - Tiger 07's putting was simply broken. The fact that this is also an original title for the Wii - rather than an extension of an existing franchise - is well worth mentioning and gives me great hopes for the franchises future development.
I'm left still waiting for my perfect golf game, one that combines the swing of Tiger Woods, the technician's interface of We Love Golf with the ability for eight player mash ups thrown in for good measure. Maybe the Super Swing Golf will deliver the goods later in the year.
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