Party Golf – Xbox One Review
When you think of the game of golf, calmness, precision, accuracy and technique are words that might spring to mind, not to mention the casual stroll through a picturesque course. When you play Party Golf however, this concept of the sport may as well be chucked in the bin and replaced with words like crazy, frantic, colourful, boisterous, risky and lucky being more apt, as with the best party games with your friends and family, things can get a bit rowdy! The game from Giant Margarita is for 1 to 8 players (for more than 4 you’ll need to share controllers, which can be awkward) and is played from a side on 2D viewpoint. As you would expect with golf, the idea is to hit the ball into the hole, but time is the major factor here so you have to get the ball from A to B quicker than your opponents, not necessarily in the fewest shots. Once the first player sinks their ball, a countdown clock starts and if you’ve not sunk your put by the time the clock gets to zero, you are judged by your distance from the hole.
One great feature about Party Golf is its highly customisable nature, so other than the basics of getting the ball from tee to hole, all the other parameters can be played around with to give lots of variation and helps you come up with all sorts of different crazy permutations. All the terrains are procedurally generated, so you’ll never play exactly the same level twice, again keeping the game fresh over time. The controls are dead simple, no worries about swing technique or getting the power right, the only thing that concerns you is the trajectory. Use the left thumbstick to aim a shot and a small line will move showing you the intended trajectory, then when you’re happy with your aim, just hit A to hit the ball and away you go. The trajectory of your shot stays on screen as a faded shadow, handy as a reference if you cock up the previous shot and land off the map, having to replay the same shot. Make the next shot from where the ball lands, and so on until you get it in the hole. A lot of the time you don’t have to wait until the ball has come to a dead stop before can make the next shot, but once it has slowed down to a trickle is good enough. That again is handy if you’re about the drop off a ledge into oblivion. The aim in the main game mode is to sink your put in the fastest time, and when the first person does that, the dreaded countdown clock starts and the rest of the field can start to panic as they try to finish before the timer runs out. Points are then awarded depending on how quickly you finished, or if you didn’t how near to the hole you were when you ran out of time. The scores go onto a leaderboard, and then its onto the next round until we have an outright winner. Some modes will have a variation on the speed mode, such as the traditional play of taking the fewest shots, but the most excitement inducing modes are always the ones where you’re up against the clock.
Party Golf, as the name suggests is best played in a party, as you’ll get much more enjoyment out of it, but if you’re temporarily a Billy-No-Mates, you can still enjoy the game against the AI. The skill level seems to be set pretty well, with the Ai having enough intelligence to know a good shot from bad, but without being too clinical that you’d need pin point precision to beat it. Against my AI opponents I always felt like I was in the hunt for first place, and only ended up dead last when I’d made a complete hash of the round. Just because the game is ultimately intended for multiplayer, don’t think its no fun on your own, as single player is well designed, balanced and you get almost as much excitement as with your mates, but with a whole lot less shouting and screaming!
A major factor in Party Golf having much more depth than is initially apparent is that nearly every aspect of the game is customisable. You can mess with the physics of the game. Change the effects of gravity, the size of the ball, or even replacing the ball with something else. Believe me, trying to hit a banana up a hill isn’t at all easy! You can play the ball through a floating minefield, have sticky walls, rocket powered shots, or in a Flappy Birds style level, control the ball in mid flight so it doesn’t hit any obstacle. Extra checkpoints can be added mid level, coins that can be collected and much much more. In all the developers boast there are over 300 different combinations in adjustments that can be made to a level. Party Golf is definitely a game that aims to keep it fresh and keep you coming back to play for months to come.
The only gripe I have with the procedurally generated levels is that every now and again you’ll get a terrain that is near on impossible to play, maybe giving you a starting point under the lip of a steep slope, and when you try and hit the ball back to get a better angle it goes off screen and you’re back to square one. Luckily this is a rarity so in general wont ruin a game, but just make for a frustrating couple of minutes until that level ends. Also because the trajectory of previous shots stays visible, if you’re in a situation of having to repeat the same shot, the lines all blur into one and you just have to hit and hope.
The graphical style is what you could call functional, it looks fine, does its job and doesn’t detract from the gameplay. Being a 2D title it doesn’t really need to be too detailed anyway, and with no over-detailed backgrounds it keeps your attention on what you’re doing with the ball. The colours are bold, with each player represented by a different colour, so its fairly easy to see how you’re progressing in relation to your opponents. The audio is much the same, does its job without being remarkable, just an accompaniment to the action.
At first glance, a game that might be fun for an hour or so, you’ll be surprised by the hidden depths of Party Golf. With more customisations that you can shake a stick at, you’d find it very difficult to get bored with this game, and played with friends its certainly one of the best party games available on the Xbox One.
Developer: Giant Margarita
Publisher: Giant Margarita
Many Thanks to Giant Margarita for the review copy.