Everybody’s Golf is a series that has been going now for 20 years, with it starting out as Hotshots Golf, but 20 years later is the latest entry in this long running series worth your time?
From the outset, the game is all about choice, from the look of your character, to the attitude they equip, choice is the games biggest element. Once you have created your avatar, you get a quick intro into the game and then, again, it’s your choice to what you do next. Of course, Golf is going to be the main draw and while it is simple, the amount of skill it takes to pull off some of the more advance shots can take some getting used to, but it’s the outside activities that make the game more appealing.
For those that are here for the Golfing experience, you can keep your experiences confined to the console, but the game lets you also compete against other players. Doing this does not require anything fancy, no lobbies, no custom match making, you simply jump into a game and while you are there, you can experience the games biggest change, free roaming. Here you can jump in kart and drive around the course, interact with other players, using emotes only though, join a match against other players, or for the fun of it, you can jump into a single hole, make your shots then move on.
If you keep things offline, you can still take part in multi-hole experiences, or you can just go for solo stroke play, letting you practice on the courses that you struggle with. The game however does hold you back, you need to complete the first tournament to unlock anything other than the default course, it is perhaps the games biggest flaw, there is a level of grind to the game, that one would not usually expect to find in a Golf game, or at least a game called Everybody’s Golf. If you can look past the grinding feel, you will find a great game, but the grind, while annoying is important, because as you play more, you unlock more.
Unlocking items is what is going to keep you coming back to an extent, purely because as you unlock things, new shirts and hats are cool, but the clubs are what you are going to want to get. As you unlock newer clubs, they will have more improved stats and when you combine that with your own individual player progression, you can get some impressive shots of the tee. The problem with the player progression though, is that you only level up a type of club, if you hit a good shot, you are rewarded with experience with that type of club. Hit a crap shot and you get nothing and while over time you will likely hit more great shots than not, early on it won’t feel like you are doing much of anything, thanks to the bizarre swing mechanic.
The game is still asking you to press a button to begin assigning power to your shot, as the gauge fills up, you need to then press the button again, to confirm the amount of power you want, before hitting the button a third time to determine how accurate you are with your swing. This is the sort of system that was introduced in Golf games from day one, but since then other games have evolved and present other methods of input and not seeing that hear, is damaging the game two-fold, first it holds the game back, but it is also a hard system to master. There were times when I would press the button, only for the slider to shoot past the point where I selected it to stop and other times it would stop too soon. The random nature made me angry and even using the games own in-built auto stop system, resulted in random results and while after time, I could get some form of semblance to a consistent hit, it was still too random for me.
The games world is also a little random, thankfully in a clever way, it blends chibi style avatars, in a more realistic setting and while that sentence might confuse you, once you see it in action, it makes sense. While the characters roaming the world, are cute, they are also the worst looking part of the visuals, the scenery helps balance it out, from Golf Island, to the course locations, the visuals, while not on par (could not resist) with other PlayStation 4 exclusives, are still stunning. The game supports PlayStation 4 Pro as well, though strangely, you can have either 4K or 60fps, not both, so if you have a 4K screen, the game will just look amazing.
The game does have performance issues though, it has very, very long load times, with the first initial load taking a while, only to then present you with a second load, after pressing the button to start. Loading into or out of any course, also takes a long time, or at least far longer than it should and when you combine it with the games simple presentation, lack of commentary, simple menus and such, it is just not acceptable. The games music is basic, it is neither impressive, but nor is it repetitive, it suits the games laid back style to a tee (again, not sorry) but I would not listen to it, outside of the game that is.
Everybody’s Golf is a strange game, it has taken the series quite a few steps forward in many ways, but it also has kept a foot firmly planted in the past. The amount of options for what you do and how you look is incredible, but it puts a lot of the game behind this grinding wall, that most players will be unlikely to bother trying to ascend.