Before Tiger Woods came along, golf was very different, and so were golf games. They didn't need to have every course on the PGA Tour and all the top names in order to be fun, and Everybody's Golf: World Tour on the PS3 certainly harks back to the good old days. With some wonderfully characteristic visuals and quirky presentation gamers tired of the serious golf offered by Tiger might find a lot to enjoy.
Don't be fooled into thinking that Everybody's Golf is like a round of Crazy Golf. Despite its fun appearance, the basics of the game - both rules and ball physics - still apply. Using a power meter swing mechanic you must accurately hit a ball around 18 holes, attempting to complete the round in as few shots as possible, making adjustments for wind speed and spin applied to the ball. It sounds simple, but it only takes one wayward drive or approach shot to put you deep in trouble. All the cute large-headed characters, fanatical clapping from the crowd and quirky comments won't ease the pain of landing deep in the rough from your tee-shot on a par 3.
New to the game is an optional advanced swing technique. This isn't actually as far from the old swing technique as it looks, with the power meter being replaced by timed button presses based on your player's swing. Little markers are placed in the swing to give you some idea of the strength required, making it a little easier to make the jump from power meter to swing judgement. It certainly feels more natural than looking at a power meter, but it's not nearly as intuitive as the analogue stick controlled swing action seen in Tiger Woods and other golf games.
Core to the game is the Challenge mode, which sees you playing in events against AI golfers, unlocking new equipment, characters and courses along the way. To begin with only one course is available, with a further five unlocked as you progress. As you work through the Challenge mode you'll face trickier opponents, tee-off from more distant tee positions and generally have a harder time. The desire to collect everything certainly adds a level of addictiveness that you might not expect, although we'd have liked more of the unlockable outfits to match the crazy characters.
If you grow tired of the Challenge mode you could play against friends. Local play is an option on a single console, but online is where the most fun is to be had. A retro-style overhead RPG lobby system allows you to mingle and arrange rounds for up to eight players. The lobby system is a nice touch, although your communication options are pretty limited. You've got a selection of pre-set messages, predictive text input and support for a USB keyboard, but the message box is so small you can rarely get across more than a simple message.
If eight-player matches aren't to your liking, maybe tournaments for up to 50 players is more enticing, with in-game prizes often on offer for the winner. A unique points system comes into play should you be tied with other players on the same score, so it's essential to take full care with every shot you play. Hitting a fairway from the tee or landing on the green in the correct number of shots adds points to your total, which could be vital when the scores are tallied in the club house.
For a PlayStation 3 title Everybody's Golf: World Tour isn't breathtaking to look at, but it makes up for this with plenty of charm. The courses are entirely fictional and feature the kind of landmarks you'd never see on a PGA Tour course - such as a windmill blocking your ideal path for your drive. The characters are also entirely unique, although they won't be to everyone's liking. The cowboy-like guy who insists on doing his best John Wayne impression started to annoy us before we'd completed one round. You won't find any licensed music from the latest bands here either, but you will be treated to plenty of cheer and encouraging comments from your caddy.
Everybody's Golf: World Tour is quite clearly a game that's refused to move with the times, but in this case that's no bad thing. The core gameplay is solid and the online functionality is excellent, but there is a distinct lack of content compared to other golf games on the market. Six courses might seem like a lot, but you'll be replaying those holes over and over again throughout the Challenge mode. It's still highly recommended even if it doesn't take full advantage of the console.