Game review: Everybody’s Golf VR suits PSVR to a tee
The PlayStation’s longest-running sports series makes the leap into VR and once again proves perfect for every kind of golfer.
Since its inception in the late 90s, the Everybody’s Golf franchise has brought the sport to people who would normally be horrified by the idea of buying a set of golf clubs. Its colourful courses and arcade-style gameplay have more in common with Mario Golf than the PGA Tour, and that’s a major part of its charm – not taking itself all that seriously.
Everybody’s Golf VR continues that tradition and although it’s lighter on content than its siblings, the accessibility persists. But this is the first time players have found themselves actually on the fairways, listening to the birdsong and admiring the scenery. It’s also the first where, assuming you use a Move controller, you’ll be required to swing a golf club rather than time a button press, the stock-in-trade of most video game golf sims.
It’s already been done to great effect on Wii and Wii U, but the swing is everything in Everybody’s Golf VR. It controls the force with which you hit the ball and the direction it travels, becoming the very heart of the game. It makes pulling off a shot unusually satisfying and missing one equally infuriating; the nuance of your club’s position making a huge difference to the ball’s trajectory and final resting place.
To get started though, you’ll need to give the game your exact height and tell it whether you’re right or left-handed. With your virtual golfer in place, playing ought to feel reasonably authentic, the motion and length of each club fitting your physique in real life. It does mean you can’t just pass the game to a significantly smaller or taller friend, but it makes the accuracy of the moment-to-moment play more satisfying.
As in real golf, you have to stand up, and when 18 holes can take 50 minutes or more, it’s a different experience from lounging on your sofa. And that’s before you’ve taken into account the furious arm swinging required. Not that you need to take full golf swings in your sitting room, but there’s still a Happy Gilmore-esque short backswing followed by a scooping forward motion to hit the ball. It’s a reasonable workout, although you can learn to cheat and grip clubs one-handed whilst achieving similar results.
Starting at the club house, you choose a caddie and a course, and off you go. For each shot there’s a recommended club that usually turns out to be right for the distance and wind conditions. You can also switch to an overhead view of the course to get your bearings, the full splendour of the landscape spread out underneath you, which looks especially lovely with the added crispness of PS4 Pro.
Back at ground level you start by taking practise swings where your club moves ghostlike though the ball, before switching to address mode and taking the shot. The haptic feedback when your club strikes the ball or turf sells the whole thing beautifully, and it genuinely feels like being on a brightly coloured cartoon golf course, a process that somehow makes you take missed putts even more personally.
Expect to be damned with faint praise as you’re finding your golfing legs. ‘Not terrible,’ your caddie will say, trying their best to put a brave face on golf that is by any standards, absolutely terrible. It does get easier though, as you practise shots from different locations and in varying conditions, although you never quite lose the ability to fluff what would in footballing terms be called a sitter.
Breaking up the relaxed golfing action are ‘special events’, occasional interludes where your caddie takes you somewhere new, whether a scenic lookout or a vertigo-inducing log suspended over a chasm, or simply for a box of chocolates at a picnic table. It’s pretty weird, and there are a few of them to experience while shaking your head in frank bafflement.
Completing courses unlocks new play modes, caddies, sets of clubs, outfits for each caddie, and courses to play on. You start at the peaceful Forest Course before moving on to the windy but scenic Seaside, and finally the hilly Jurassic-themed Dinosaur Course where you can expect rivers of lava and pterodactyls flapping lazily overhead.
There are further surprises in store, which we won’t spoil, but while it’s not exactly a compendious list, each course has a distinct character and lovely views, peppered as they are with picturesque sunsets, low flying light aircraft, hot air balloons, sailing boats, and the odd brontosaurus. You can also play each one in mirror mode, which manages to supply a decent degree of reinvigoration.
With no multiplayer there are at least global leaderboards where you can compare your small ball hitting prowess with other practitioners worldwide. It’s the icing on a modest but tasty cake.
Everybody’s Golf VR is not a large game, but it is polished and fun, with enough challenge to keep devotees of closely sheared grass swinging away in an attempt to perfect the back nine of the Dinosaur Course, the bellow of the T-Rex paling into insignificance compared with the involuntary gargles of players missing yet another short and practically level putt.
Everybody’s Golf VR
In Short: Colourful golfing action with a fascinating complexity to each swing – and a stealth workout – but relatively few courses.
Pros: Polished, arcade-style fun that does not in any way require a love of golf to appreciate its charms. The current best VR golf game.
Cons: Not many courses, no multiplayer, and forcing you to stand up and swing your arms is healthy but also quite tiring.
Formats: PlayStation VR
Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
Developer: Clap Hanz and Smile Connect E!
Release Date: 22nd May 2019
Age Rating: 3
By Nick Gillett
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