Golf is fast becoming a popular sport, using icons, marquee players and good old marketing to do away with its previously stodgy, aristocratic trappings. It follows that golfing is one of the most popular sports in Asia now. Westernization proceeding at full stride, this year’s Pocket PC golf games are being produced in the Pacific Rim. So does that mean we’re in for a different brand of golf? As I found out with iGolf 2, that isn’t the case at all. iGolf 2 is one of the best playing golf titles out there. Like a good golf club, it has an amazing feel that its primary counterpart certainly lacks.
That counterpart I’m speaking about is obviously EA’s Tiger Woods franchise, which has permeated to every platform possible. Recently, I even heard it reached the Qualcomm BREW platform. But having played it on many handheld formats, I criticized it for relying too much on the classic tri-click mode and having too poor of a feel to handle subtle actions like putting. If the developers of iGolf 2 were listening, they listened very well. The comparisons, in terms of controls, between iGolf 2 and the golf game that bears the Woods name is night and day. Featuring easy swing, dual-click and tri-click swings, iGolf 2 doesn’t venture into the mysterious realm of natural swing or tru-swing that PC gamers have seen. But still, the variety is good and iGolf 2 inherently feels better to me. I have more control of distance, aiming, landing and there’s even provision to control the spin of the ball. While it’s still difficult to hit draws and fades with a mechanical (dual or tri click) interface, iGolf 2’s golf game plays a lot better due to its interface.
Putting continues to be the Achilles heel of handheld golfing games. It’s a hard department to get down. Real life golfing simulators, ones where you hit live balls against a screen, also have this problem so I wasn’t expecting miracles from iGolf 2. Controlling power and the putting stroke can potentially be a complete nightmare in artificial spaces. Throw in reading breaks and guiding your ball against the contour of a challenging green’s surface and you won’t be able to practice this even on the practice greens of a golf course. I found the easy swing was great for flawless driving in iGolf 2 but it didn’t give enough for control for putting. In comparison, however, iGolf 2’s putting game is more forgiving, even if breaks on the Pine Hill putting greens pose more challenge. Like Phil Mickelson, you’ll initially have trouble sinking two or three foot putts but with practice, you’ll only have to expend one or two strokes in putting to sink the ball. Careless players can of course, expect to foul up, inflating scores. It follows that iGolf 2’s driving game is not nearly as difficult as the putting one.
There is a proverbial sin that iGolf 2 has committed and that is by including only one course. The practice mode merely lets you select which holes you’d like to play so it’s not like you get to try your hand at a short game course or drive from a range setting. As such, all the graphics revolve around Pine Hill, which is a great looking green course. It renders quickly and appears to be more 3D in its gameplay rather than television style showmanship. The latter is kept to a minimum, allowing play to proceed at a brisk pace making it every weekend golfer’s dream. Shadows are evidently missing here but the textures are bright, vibrant and fairways are recognizable apart from roughs. Golfer animation is something iGolf 2 is knowingly lacking compared to its licensed counterparts. Therefore, it’s not surprising there aren’t many frames devoted to it. iGolf 2 probably has given up on this department altogether.
Conversely, in the audio department, iGolf 2 features some crisp ambient effects. There isn’t a lot but at least your round at the links won’t be mired by repetitive bird chirping. Golf games make it sound like you hear many birds in golf. On the contrary, in real life, you only hear lots of birds if you drive near trees and other places you shouldn’t be. It’s not something you want to be hearing. iGolf 2 throws in a few rustles of wind to help liven up the scene.
Overall, the most formidable part of iGolf 2 is undoubtedly its controls. Good controls in a golf game are like golf clubs that give a good feel. They are tantamount to the success of playing a round of golf and the developers behind iGolf 2 certainly are aware of this. iGolf 2 promises to bring additional courses, albeit at further cost. Obviously, few will want to be stuck with a title that only has one golf course so buyers should factor in the cost of an additional course. Ultimately, if you choose iGolf 2 over its Tiger Woods competitor, you’re choosing over splashy visuals and an unbeatable brand but in turn, you get an immensely intuitive and enjoyable golf game. Perhaps in the end, having fun is all that really matters in the game of golf. After playing iGolf 2, I certainly thought so.
[09/10] Program Size
[15/15] Learning Curve
[ N/A ] Multiplayer