It might sound a bit obvious, but Everybody's Golf really is for everybody. A cute art style and selection of fictional courses presents this Vita launch title as a casual game of golf, yet the swing mechanics and physics lend themselves well to more experienced players. While there's nothing here that makes this edition of the long-running series stand out above its previous entries, the snappy gameplay, decent multiplayer options and plenty of unlockables make this a thoroughly recommended purchase.
Compared to the complexities of the Tiger Woods series, Everybody's Golf seems quite quaint. A customisable lobby screen (mine is currently home to a squat man complete with terrible mullet and moustache) presents you with single or multiplayer game modes, each housing a number of additional choices.
Played alone you can opt to take part in standard match or stroke play rounds against the AI or enter into a series of tiered challenges. The Challenge mode is the real heart of the single-player experience, with 9 and 18 hole events tasking you with finishing at the top of the leaderboard in order to earn a star - win enough stars and you'll unlock a vs. match play challenge against one of a number of unlikely looking golf pros. Win that vs. match and you'll open a new tier of challenges against a raft of more difficult opponents.
Initially you have a choice of two swing mechanics (one the standard triple tap bar system and the other a hybrid with a disc timing system) and both are incredibly easy to pick up. Wind, ball lie, and elevation all play a part in your club choice and swing power, but thankfully the game never becomes too complicated. The main consideration is trying to make sure you strike the ball as cleanly as possible, avoiding adding unwanted hook or slice by timing your swing badly.
Without much to faff about with, it's possible to whiz through an entire round in under 30 minutes - just the right amount of time to finish a challenge during a commute. Before too long you'll have worked your way through the easiest two challenge tiers, and find yourself facing increasing more determined and skilful AI golfers.
An added level of depth comes from the differing skills offered by the various golfers available to play as. Each golfer is rated in terms of Power, Control, Impact, Spin and Sidespin, with their stats in these areas determining what they play like. Novice characters favour Impact, so you'll get away with less than perfect ball striking, whereas higher-up golfers will offer better spin control or power, but less control - in turn requiring more skill from the player in order to produce good results.
In-game credits are awarded for your performances while on the courses, and can be spent on a variety of content ranging from additional swing mechanics and courses, to music and ball types - you can even kit out your lobby character with questionable pieces of high-cost fashion.
Multiplayer modes are offered for people looking to compete against local friends or more distant foes online. Daily International Tournaments are also on offer, pitting you against an AI rival and posting your score online - you only get one chance to enter each of the three daily events, so there's an increased level of pressure to do well.
The Vita isn't short of impressive looking launch titles, and Everybody's Golf deserves to be placed amongst the best. Courses are detailed and colourful, character models are impressively detailed, and there are tons of nice little touches dotted about that bring the environments to life - such as a roaming family of bears or a train track complete with train. What's more, load times here are superb, with the only real wait of note coming when you first enter a new course - loading between holes is barely noticeable.
Thankfully the developer didn't feel it needed to shoe-horn in Vita features that take advantage of the various input methods, instead offering a few neat but completely optional functions. The rear touch pad is used to select points on the course and get data about distance from the ball (something that I barely used), and the gyros are used to allow full 360 degree views of the environment by moving the Vita around - a nice gimmick but almost useless in terms of gameplay.
Everybody's Golf isn't an immediately exciting launch title, but it is one that you'll find yourself going back to time and time again. It gets the basics right and backs up its tight gameplay mechanics with tidy visuals and portable-friendly loading times - something that a few of the higher profile launch games can't claim. The dev team certainly played it safe, but going for PAR isn't a bad thing.
Version Tested: PS Vita