Version tested: PSP
Everybody's Golf 2
- Developer: Clap Hanz
- Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
I always used to wonder why my dad had a belly on him, despite being an avid golfer. All that fresh air, all that exercise. Walking eighteen holes should do wonders for the body. It turns out following up a course with three more and a pint in the clubhouse also does things to the body.
Anyway, there's no such sins of gluttony in the Everybody's Golf series. This is good, wholesome golf. Golf without the exercise, admittedly, but also golf with a great big smile, bright skies and a relaxed dress policy. Golf where your caddy's ever on hand to offer words of encouragement, and a good thwack of the ball displays a congratulatory rainbow message of 'Nice shot!' every time.
The popular PlayStation series has done an uncanny job of making golf fun. It's less concerned with taking the sport seriously - although there's depth to its interpretation - but rather in making it an enjoyable experience where a bit of effort is rewarded constantly with new items and abilities. This second dedicated PSP version isn't a massive overhaul, but there are enough underlying improvements to make it the definitive one.
The main single-player mode consists primarily of nine-hole tournaments on a selection of courses at different skill levels. Win one of these and you get to pick a card or two from a set of outfits and accessories, which also increase your stats. Other tournaments offer one-off challenges like playing with limited clubs. Win enough matches overall and you'll face off against a rival golfer who graciously becomes a new playable character in defeat. At which point you dress them in a Dutch outfit, policeman's hat and boxing gloves and send them on their way.
Hitting the ball is done traditionally. An indicator moves along a horizontal bar, you press the X button to set the power of the shot, and then time your second press as it travels back to hit the ball's sweet spot. Optional spin is available on the directional buttons. It's as simple and unfussy as you could hope for, and should you wish you can even choose to set the power only and have the AI hit the ball for you at the expense of slightly reduced accuracy
With the ideal club chosen for you and constant data on where the ball's likely to end up, you could argue there's too much hand-holding, but that might be missing the point. EG2 is a feel-good game where a nine-hole round among colourful, semi-fantastic locations takes ten to fifteen minutes of your time, and where, with a bit of practice, you're going to see more birdies than a battery farm.
It's a quick loader, too, with minimum turnaround between holes. Having been on sale for a while, the multiplayer lobbies were disappointingly dead when I popped my head in now and again, which is a shame since sixteen-player online tournaments are one of the more significant improvements, but nevertheless, the single-player provides more than enough golf-based entertainment to please those who like their sport with a little bit of cheer.