In the 2017 instalment of Everybody’s Golf, veteran developer Clap-Hanz – supported, as always, by Sony’s own industrious Japan Studio – attempted to reinvent the decades-old franchise, adding open world elements to the classic click-click-click arcade action of yore. Everybody’s Golf VR represents another stark change for the series, bringing the vibrant visuals of its fantastical courses to PlayStation VR. It’s a perfect fit for the peripheral, but can it retain the brand’s values from its all-new perspective?
The answer is yes, although the learning curve here is higher than it’s ever been. Swinging with a single PlayStation Move or DualShock 4 takes practice, and while you won’t require bulging biceps to hit a 200-yard drive, you’re going to need to ensure you’re accurate to get a clean connection in the direction that you desire. This took us a little time to figure out, as we unintentionally added fade to virtually all of our shots at first. Fortunately, a couple of hours at the driving range got us up to speed.
The driving range is one of the new features that’s making its debut in this version of the game. Idyllic and equipped with lucid green turf, the golf club serves as an area for you to master the controls. As alluded to earlier, hitting the ball cleanly is key – unless you want your shots to curve away from the green. Mastering the velocity of your swing is similarly essential, as this is what dictates the power of your drive. In addition to teeing off, you can also practice your approach shots and putting.
But of course, the, er, courses are the stars of the show. Things start off fairly straightforward, in a forest-like area with tall trees and easy to read greens. But it’s not long before you’re whisked away to the serene blues of the seaside, and finally a Jurassic Park-inspired resort – complete with towering herbivores and volcanic backdrops. As you progress through the various holes, the studio really begins to get imaginative with the technology, tasking you with teeing off from mountaintops and more.
There’s no campaign per se, but you’ll constantly be unlocking content as you play. Caddies accompany you out on the course, and are more interactive than in previous titles, getting up in your face in special “event” sequences which help to break up the on-course gameplay. The voice acting is typically atrocious, but the character models look superb, and the whole visual presentation is up there with the very best that you can find on PSVR – it’s just a shame that a couple of the caddies and several costumes are locked away as DLC.
Franchise favourites like Tornado Cups and Mirror modes help to pad out the overall offering, but even with all of the unlocks taken into account, this is a flimsy package that does end up feeling a little light. Fortunately it makes up for its overall lack of meat with a very reasonable price point, and plenty of polish. It’s a criticism that we wrapped up our review playthrough wanting more, but it also speaks to how much we loved hitting the links.
For the most part you’ll simply be playing against yourself, trying to set a high score – although there are daily and overall leaderboards for all of the settings, so you can at least see how you’re faring against the rest of the world. The title is tough, however, and despite making significant improvements to our game, we’ve yet to finish under-par with normal holes. The challenge can be frustrating, but it also makes sinking those long-distance putts all the more satisfying.
Everybody’s Golf VR loses a little of the series’ trademark accessibility as part of its transition to PSVR, but putting in some practice is a worthwhile endeavour, as this is a seriously rewarding arcade sports game. The presentation is top-notch throughout, and while the package is a little light on content, everything that’s included has been polished to a sheen. This is the second time Clap-Hanz has reinvented its legendary PlayStation property for the PS4, and once again it’s registered a Nice Shot.