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The game that has been the backbone of the PS2's and PSP's sporting line-up for years has been largely overhauled for Sony's new machine. To my delight I found that it was hitting the spot for me in every way possible. The quick and fun play-style of the previous versions has been preserved and the Japanese cartoon stylings are as bright and cheerful as ever. Although the control system pales in comparison to Tiger Woods on the Wii, it still produces an enjoyable golfing experience.
Not having played Everybody's Golf previously, I was a little surprised at the somewhat kiddie aesthetic. While this seems to disregard the likely demographic for the game, it does have the advantage of appealing to younger players. As such it distinguishes itself from the more cerebral Tiger Woods series.
Thankfully, it only took a few rounds before I discovered that beneath the sparkling and exuberant exterior there was a well paced, solid and detailed game of golf. In fact I found the game's physics and world more convincing than Tiger's. It may not have had the photo realistic visuals of EA's big hitter, but ironically it turns out to be the more believable game. Everybody's Golf's physics create a solid connection between the player, ball and fairway. Not only is the three-button hit mechanic easy to understand, but the following ball flight, bounce and travel are always what you would expect from the rendered environments.
Characterisation also couldn't be more different to Tiger. In place of the ability to map the contours of your face and upload your actual image onto the onscreen player, Everybody's Golf: World Tour offers bucket loads of dress up. Do well in a particular course or competition and you are not only rewarded with points and money, but also an expanded wardrobe. Although not as technically impressive, I found this provided just as much if not more connection to my little onscreen guy or gal.
Beneath the sparkling and exuberant exterior there's a well paced, solid and detailed game of golf.
The following hours were equally fun filled. Online play was well executed as were the plethora of different single and multiplayer options. There's enough here to keep anyone fully employed for many weeks. The audio was also impressive, hooking into the quirky characterisation and added some delightful individual flourishes.
But for me it was missing one key ingredient - a proper golf swing. It's funny that Everybody's Golf easily out performs the PS3's Tiger Woods only to fall foul of the Wii golf game from EA. I simply couldn't get around the fact that once I had played with the masterly and nuanced Wii-mote swing I was ruined for anything else. Pressing a button to make a shot now seemed as lame as playing a first person shooter without the analogue sticks. There was simply no way around this. Before long I decided to down tools and returned, tail between legs, to Tiger Woods on the Wii for my weekly dose of golfing goodness.
Apart from this shortcoming, which is really an issue with the system rather than the game, I thoroughly recommend Everybody's Golf: World Tour. It more than holds its own against the perceived heavyweights in the genre.
If you own a PS3 and you've not yet played Tiger Woods (or Wii-Sports Golf) on the Wii I have a suggestion for you: don't play it. Stay ignorant of the glory of the Wii-mote golf controller and you'll be able to enjoy this game immensely. If you've played the Wii game, then it really is hard to recommend this. Certainly there is more to do here, and it looks far prettier. But a game, when it comes down to it, lives or dies by its controls. It's just unfortunate for Hotshots Golf that it's on a system that limits its success.
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