We like a good golf game here at Codec Moments. Sometimes there’s nothing more satisfying than heading out on to the virtual fairway and smacking a ball for 300 yards at a stick… with a stick. Whilst the big boy titles have become more technically impressive over the years, there’s one thing that seems to have been missing from the genre that has been hinted at, if not fully realised- crazy golf. Now we’ve got the chance to get our mini digital clubs swinging with the release of Blacklight Interactive’s Golf With Your Friends. Can the Team 17 published game deliver an experience to rival the real feeling of mastering a helter-skelter obstacle course of a hole? Or will it have us screaming “For four’s sake!” with each miss?
Golf With Your Friends is fairly straight forward proposition. It’s rounds of crazy golf set in ever more elaborate environments where luck is as important as skill in sinking a putt. Like the serious game, there are 18 holes in a round, and each hole has a par score to try and beat. This being a mini version, some of the pars only allow for 2 strokes, whilst surprisingly, others need more than 6 strokes due to the sheer complexity of the hole. Your job as the player is to get the lowest overall score across all eighteen holes to win. If you’re playing on your own then well done, you’ll always win. If you’re playing with others that’s where the competitive element comes in as well as the “with your friends” part of the title. Don’t worry if you don’t have any friends locally, there’s usually someone online waiting to show you how it’s done.
Playing Golf With Your Friends alone seems a little against the ethos of the title, yet there are a lot of options to satisfy the solo gamer. Classic mode is a straight 18 hole round where you’ve the chance to learn the trickier parts of the courses and get used to the controls. Hockey swaps out the pins and holes with ice hockey goals complete with padded goalie, and gives you a slippery puck to play with. Then there’s Dunk where to finish the hole you’ll need to be as good as Michael Jordan and bounce the ball through a hoop. If you’re lucky enough to have people around in these locked-down times, there’s even a party mode that brings powerups into play so that you can really annoy your friends as they’re trying to deal with tricky shots through windmills. All modes can be customised depending on how you’re feeling, and all are available online too for up to 12 players with people you know or randoms.
The main difference between online and off for multiplayer is simply that online everyone plays simultaneously, whilst offline it’s turn-based. It’s hard not to like the faster pace of the online modes, meaning that it doesn’t take hours to play a round, though it’s not exactly sluggish offline (or in solo play) due to the hole timer and shot count. There’s 2 minutes allocated at the start of each hole that ticks down relentlessly as you figure out where the pin is and what direction you need to head in. With a total free cam limit of 15 seconds (yikes!) per hole it forces quick play rather than considered, and that can lead to dropped shot after dropped shot until the default limit of 12 is reached. Not happy at being timed or stroked out, it will the add insult to injury with two additional strokes. Thanks Golf With Your Friends!
Customising the game lets you alter the time and stroke limits (as well as adorn your balls with trinkets), and that means you can enjoy the wacky courses more at your leisure, and there’s a lot to appreciate. Based on different themes, each one has intricacies to discover and shortcuts to the pin to master, as well as sections that will confuse and frustrate. Heading up the list to the more demanding courses means that barriers start to disappear and the timing of shots becomes crucial. Wrong ball placement in some cases can mean the difference between an albatross and failing completely, and you better get used to being out of bounds. Combine the difficulties inherent in some of the hole designs with a camera that’s not always got the best view on its mind, collision detection missing from some surfaces, occasional sluggish controller response (pressing to jump!), and spin and power that set themselves when you’re using the free-cam; there are times you might be tempted to just give up and move on.
Golf With Your Friends has a great premise and an interesting set of courses to master. There’s a surprising amount to do both on- and off-line, includes a free-roam practice mode, and the Hockey version stands out as quite a lot of fun. Getting a game with others though is key to the enjoyment here because in those moments where the camera is hacking you off and the pin seems impossible to find, having someone else give some quick advice or just watching the line they’re taking pays dividends. That’s before you even get into tripping opponents up with the power-ups, or having the thrill of a fluke hole-in-one. It needs some polish to smooth off the wrinkles, though if you’ve a willing posse and are looking for something to provide a few hours of entertainment, it’s a fair-way to spend it.
A PS4 review copy of Golf With Your Friends was provided by Team 17’s PR team, and the game is available now on PC, Switch, Xbox One and PS4 for around £15.