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Everybody's Golf returns to us on the PSP with a whole load of backspin and we find out if it's landed on the green...
- 16-player Infrastructure Mode.
- 6 new courses.
- Series-famed addictive gameplay.
- Everybody's Golf rekinned.
- No 'pass-around' multiplayer.
- Updated PS3 swing mechanic doesn't make it.
There's something about the Everybody's Golf series that we love here at TVG. It's hard to put your finger on exactly what's so addictive about the series. In this case, Everybody's Golf 2 on the PSP retains the same simplistic formula of its predecessor. There's a swing meter running along the bottom of the screen and you press X once to start the meter, once again to stop it at the desired power level, and then a third time for accuracy as it returns to its start mark.
Clearly, the swing meter isn't exactly re-writing the golf videogame rulebook. As you initially progress through the game, this simplicity continues. Shot selection usually has two options to choose from. Regular fairway and tee shots have a normal setting and a fiery power setting (of which you have a limited amount on one round), which can be selected if you require some extra kick. Close approach shots to the green alter this format slightly to offer either a lobbed approach, or a chip and run option if you've got some green to play with.
Simple But Not ShallowIn many ways, this simplicity is the beauty of the game. After all, the game's title is Everybody's Golf and what could be more appealing to everybody than such an unthreatening basic format when you first pickup the game. However, don't be deceived by the game's apparent simplicity because further play will reveal that it's far from shallow - on the contrary in fact. Instead, like any Everybody's Golf game, Everybody's Golf 2 on PSP gradually reveals subtleties and nuances that add oodles of depth to the gameplay.
As long as you continually play as the same character you'll get loyalty points that unlock further shot types as you progress. For example, while you start off with the basic shot command using the X button, continued play will eventually open up shots with the triangle and circle buttons. When you press these to determine a shot's accuracy, they'll either add or takeaway a bit of power to your swing. This allows you to tweak your shot a tiny bit if you didn't quite get the right power setting first time around.
Then there are the Super Spin shots. To activate normal spin shots you simply press the corresponding d-pad button at the same time as you stop the swing meter for accuracy (forward for topspin, left for a slice, and down for backspin etc.). If you want to achieve a Super Spin shot then you need to press the opposite directional button at the top of the swing meter, and then the desired spin button at the bottom (i.e. up at the top of the meter and down at the bottom for super backspin). However, in order to do this you need to achieve perfect accuracy and power on the swing meter otherwise it won't work.
If that's still not enough depth for you, then consider the Homing Ball, Rising Ball, and Spiral Ball - these are just downright whacky. They come into play if you hit the pin after a Super Spin shot. In Everybody's Golf 2, the pin has a nasty habit of rejecting your perfectly placed, 150 yard fairway shot. However, if you do the same thing with a Super Spin shot then the ball will either home into the hole again after bouncing off the pin (with the Homing Ball), Climb up the pin (Rising Ball), or spin down the pin (Spiral Ball).
It's this sort of progression in the game that keeps you coming back for more and it's nicely tied into the loading screens. Once you've unlocked the shot ability, look out for hints of how to use it in the loading screens before each round. These loading screens are then saved in the options menu for later viewing.
Good Judge Of CharacterThere are 10 characters in Everybody's Golf 2, each of which has the usual variation in abilities such as power, control, spin, and accuracy etc. As we've already mentioned, loyalty to each character unlocks further abilities in the game, but you can also increase their base skills by collecting items. When you win a tournament in Challenge Play, you'll have the chance to select one or two cards which have collectible items in them (e.g. from clothing and headwear, to luxury cars for you to drive around the fairways in). There's also the chance to win special items at specific tournaments, such as squeaky hammers that double as golf clubs.
Anyway, the collectible item cards are grouped into sets and collecting a whole set improves the stats of your character. While this is a fairly unique way of improving your stats, it's still the same basic principle that you'd expect in a golf game. Where Everybody's Golf 2 differs is how it links these stats improvements into how you'll play specific holes.
Occasionally on par 4s or 5s there are trick shots available that can get you closer to the green, but at a substantial risk. An example of this is a pathway that runs alongside one of the game's par 4s. To get the trick shot exactly right you'll have to land the ball on the path with its first bounce. Additionally, you'll need a touch of fade on the shot to make sure that the ball continues in the right direction once it's reached the path. If you get it exactly right then the ball will career down the path, bounce off a buggy and run down a ramp next to the green. Get the shot wrong and you'll either be out of bounds or in deep rough.
The genius with this particular trick shot and with many more in the game is that you can only achieve them once you've improved the abilities of your character. In most cases your character will need more power to get to the trick shot opportunity and this is yet another subtle gameplay feature that keeps you playing again and again.
Each of the 10 characters is portrayed in an endearing, caricatured manga style and can be taken up through the ranks of Amateur, Pro, and so on. If you fall in love with the game like we have then you'll want to play with each character, which obviously adds quite a bit of longevity to Everybody's Golf 2. The Challenge Mode will eventually unlock 12 courses for you to play on, some of which are returning to the fray (e.g. Autumn Pagoda G.C. and South Alps C.C.) as well as a wide range of new courses as well. As far as additional single-player content is concerned, there's not a huge amount on offer. There's a Hole-In-One Challenge game (which is similar in format to the first PSP game's putting challenge mode), as well as Training and Stroke Play options.
And this is perhaps our biggest criticism of the game. In many ways it's the same game as the first Everybody's Golf game on the PSP, which was a launch title on the handheld console back in 2005. All that developers Clap Hanz appear to have done with the game is re-skin it with new characters and a slightly altered system for how you acquire items and progress. That said, the 12 courses in Everybody's Golf 2 doubles the number of holes that were in the first game, which is quite a significant achievement.
Even more significant is multiplayer infrastructure support for up to 16 players. There was no infrastructure mode in the previous game and there aren't many PSP games that can boast multiplayer for up to 16 people. You could argue that this is easier to achieve with a golf game than something like a shooter, but it's a noteworthy achievement nonetheless. As with the first game ad-hoc multiplayer is supported and, in another similarity to the first game there's no pass around multiplayer option, which is a tad annoying. Pass around multiplayer (where shots are played in turns on one PSP) should be a staple of any handheld golf game and we were quite surprised and disappointed that it wasn't in the first game, let alone the sequel.
The visuals have been tidied up a touch since the first game. From slightly more vivacious colours on the courses to smoother textures for the characters and foliage/hazards on various holes, it's a more impressive graphical display all-round even though the first game could certainly hold its own. Once again the sound is pleasing to the ear throughout, whether it's your caddie geeing you on to make a birdie or the upbeat soundtrack that follows you around the courses.
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