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Game Profile
FINAL SCORES
8.3
Visuals
8.0
Audio
8.0
Gameplay
8.5
Features
8.5
Replay
8.0
INFO BOX
PLATFORM:
Xbox
PUBLISHER:
Global Star Software
DEVELOPER:
Hypnotix
GENRE: Sports
PLAYERS:   1-4
RELEASE DATE:
October 21, 2004
ESRB RATING:
Mature
IN THE SERIES
Outlaw Tennis

Outlaw Tennis

Outlaw Golf

 Written by Troy Matsumiya  on December 15, 2004

Review: Have a blast smacking the crap outta some balls ? and playing a little golf too.


Golf is usually considered a cultured sport of gentlemen and ladies, one filled with rigid rules of etiquette, courtesy and sportsmanship, and clean-cut images of superstars like Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Phil Mickelson, Mike Weir and Annika Sorenstam playing on pristine, well-groomed courses.

Sounds pretty damn boring, right? That's why developer Hypnotix said to hell with the status quo and made Outlaw Golf 2 about as far away from traditional golf as you can get ? which is a good thing because it's so bloody fun.

The serious golf gamer need not apply; this is golf for us commoners, the blue collar worker who thinks that a six-pack of beer should be standard equipment in your bag, and that the best way to work out the kinks in your game is to beat the crap out of your caddie. In fact, beating the crap out of your caddie really will help you improve your game (more on this later).

You can play one of 10 twisted characters, including many from the original Outlaw Golf like the slinky stripper Summer, the sadistic dominatrix Mistress Suki, the failed white rapper Ice Trey (whose caddie/one-man posse Fresh Fruit raps is ?as white as a saltine cracka!?) and my personal favorite, El Suave, the egocentric Latin lover. New characters like the Deliverance reject Clem and the hippie environmentalist Harvest round out the zany cast. No matter who you choose, you'll get a funny, over-the-top caricature whose behavior gets more outrageous the better (or worse) you play.

Comedian Dave Attell from the Comedy Central show Insomniac is perfect as the abrasive play-by-play commentator, who will praise you when you do well, and won't hesitate to mercilessly berate you when you suck (my favorite line so far: ?That shot was piss poor! And you can't get more poor than piss!?). The over-the-top humor is adolescent at best ? the jokes mainly revolve around sex or vulgar bodily functions; hey, it's rated Mature for a reason ? so be prepared to endure some really bad groaners and jokes that are truly gross (Clem is the worst offender in this latter department).

Outlaw Golf 2 builds on the success of the original and makes huge improvements in almost every area. The most obvious upgrade is with the graphics; the characters look and move much more realistically (especially the ladies' ?jiggle physics?), and the eight courses ? upgraded versions of the three original courses plus five new ones ? look beautiful. The water effects are quite good, including some pretty waterfalls, and you can see each individual blade of grass in the rough. On closer inspection, though, the trees have that Ghost Recon-like cardboard cut-out design, and the characters still have a way to go before they can match the beauty of the Dead or Alive series. But to be fair, much of these graphical shortcomings can be forgiven considering that this is a budget title coming in at less than $20 USD.

Fore!

The biggest improvements are in gameplay. Hypnotix could have easily given us a cheesy arcade game and bank on the Outlaw gang's novelty to attract buyers. Fortunately, they proved that they're smarter than that by concentrating on making a good golf game first. In fact, the golf is so good that with a little work, it could probably do well as a ?serious? sports title without the zany characters. No, it's not nearly as refined as Links or Tiger Woods PGA Tour, but in some ways it excels over both of these titles. For example, I found the ball physics superior to Tiger Woods, which suffered from ?sticky ball? syndrome, and there are other aspects of ball striking and putting that are better.

When you hit a ball, the computer automatically gives you a recommended club, power level and shot line (indicated by a yellow arc that shows the approximate ball flight path in perfect conditions). You can easily change your club, type of swing (normal, pitch or punch), contact point on the ball (so you can add spin), and where you want to aim. By clicking the right joystick, you activate camera mode to get a better view of the course by rotating and zooming around your character or aiming point. It's an essential feature for preparing your shots, but the camera can get stuck on obstacles like trees, preventing you from moving it any further. As well, if you are too close to an obstacle, the camera will move behind it and block your view of the ball, and can get stuck behind it, meaning you're pretty much screwed if you can't use another angle. It's frustrating at times, and there have been a few occasions when I had to hit a ball completely blind. The camera is definitely the weakest part of game and needs to be improved in any future editions.

Fortunately, you can use the Ghost Ball feature to preview your shot, complete with the affects of wind, spin and roll on the ball. The Ghost Ball assumes you will hit it straight and at the selected power level, so there is no guarantee the ball will actually travel that way when you actually hit it. You can only use the Ghost Ball once per hole, however, so you should use it only when necessary.

To hit the ball, you pull back on either stick and push forward when you reach your desired power level. Push straight forward and your shot will go straight; push it off to the side and you'll slice or hook. It sounds simple, but like in real golf, a tiny error can lead to one ugly shot (and one cheesed golfer).

Putting works in much the same way, except you can activate a grid overlay that more clearly displays the slope of the green. You can adjust your aim by previewing your putting line, but can only do this three times per putt, so you'd better use it wisely. The putting system works well and is nicely balanced, since it is more challenging than Tiger Woods, but much easier than Links.

Outlaw Golf 2 gives you many game modes to choose from. Exhibition lets you play against the computer or with up to three other friends, and includes 13 game variations with standards like Stroke play, Match play, Skins, Best Ball and Scramble, and some interesting ones like My One And Only (play with only one club and your putter), Pick Up Sticks (win a hole and you can remove a club from your opponent's bag), and Baseball (a par is a single, a birdie a double, bogey is an out, double bogey is a double play, and so on. The winner is the player with the most runs scored at the end of the match). You can also adjust the weather, wind, difficulty level, pin location, number of holes, and turn mulligans on or off.

Quick Play randomly selects the character, course and gametype for you. The Outlaw Range is a series of mini-games to help you with your driving, putting and so on; perform well and you will increase your player's attribute ratings.

The heart of the game is Tour Mode. You start off with only four characters, a single set of clubs and limited costumes. Each character has to win tournaments in Tour Mode to unlock new characters, courses, costumes, and behind-the-scenes movies. Each character has seven tournaments to complete, and needless to say, the AI of your computer opponents gets tougher the further you go. Pars will eventually not be good enough, so be prepared for some challenging golf.

You can also unlock new clubs and balls, which can dramatically affect your shots. I found a nice club and ball combination that lets me drop shots dead on the green; using a different ball or club, the same shot could roll or bounce way off target. Like real golf, you can mix and match to find the best set up for your playing style.

Compose yourself, damnit!

How good or bad you play affects your Composure rating, which affects your gameplay and behavior. When your Composure is high, you are rewarded with longer drives and your character will celebrate; if it is low, your drives will be shortened and your character will be grumpy. Naturally, the best way to gain Composure is to play well, but there are other ways to get into the positive, such as hitting a record drive or putt, beaning and knocking out spectators, or beating up your caddie.

To beat up your caddie (who is just as degenerate as your player), you play a mini-game where you press a button each time a fist icon strikes a picture of your caddie. The fist slides back and forth across the screen rapidly, so you'll need quick reflexes. The more successful ?hits? you get, the more Composure you gain and the more brutal the beating, which is shown as a brief animated cut scene. It's a silly diversion and pretty lame ? it would have been much better if you could actually beat up your caddie with a few attack moves instead.

You can also try the Cart Challenge mini-game where you drive a golf cart around obstacles or through gates within a certain time limit. You don't gain Composure for successfully completing the Cart Challenge, but instead earn the coveted Perfect Shot, which will put your shot exactly where you aim it without having to worry about power or hitting it straight. Unfortunately, the cart's steering is very twitchy and will have you careening uncontrollably all over the course. This is something you'll probably only try once or twice before giving up in frustration.

Pounding the greens

You'll need good Composure because the courses are long ? ?much like El Suave himself!? ? though not terribly challenging. The fairways are wide and you'll only hit a sand trap if you do something truly stupid (and based on my own play, apparently I'm truly stupid). Most of the greens are reasonably easy, but many have wickedly evil slopes and breaks that would make a PGA pro grimace in pain.

And don't expect to find the pristine links of an Augusta here; rather, you'll have to play in a mosquito infested swamp, on top of a glacier, in a clear-cut South American jungle, underneath freeway overpasses, and on a former nuclear test site. Each of the eight courses have their own unique challenges ? like tiny fairways and greens perched atop towering rock spires ? but play similarly. My personal favorite is Psycho Sands, a life-sized miniature-golf course where you'll play smack dab in the middle of the D-Day invasion (complete with gunfire), or on the surface of a Death Star-like battle station, or even across the tops of skyscrapers. As silly and unrealistic as some of these courses may be, they are designed with real golf principles in mind; as a result, they play quite well and with a few exceptions, don't interfere with standard golf strategies and tactics.

The courses look attractive (with the exception of the fake looking trees) and are filled with spectators, wild geese roaming the greens, and big semi-trailers zooming along the overpasses. Unlike your typical golf video game with its stark, empty fairways devoid of life, Outlaw Golf 2 feels vibrant and alive. The spectators cheer you when you do well, boo when you don't, and run screaming when you aim at them. The additional activity really makes you feel as if you're playing in a tournament with fans by your side. The spectators even change costumes depending on what course you're on, so don't be surprised to see aliens, cowboys, ancient Egyptians, or loin-cloth clad tribesmen booing your shanked shot. On the minus side, the spectators look terrible; they are very simplistic with little detail, but since you should be concentrating on your shots, you thankfully won't have to look at how ugly they are.

Is there an echo in here?

The soundtrack has a nice mix of catchy pop, rock, R&B and rap. You can also use your own custom soundtrack, which may be a good idea since the songs tend to repeat themselves.

In fact, repetition is a major sore point throughout the game. The crass jokes make this game unique, but after hearing the same lines over and over (and you will), they quickly lose their humor value. Dave Attell, as funny as he is, can get especially irritating after listening to him growl the same insults ad infinitum. You will also see characters performing the same animated actions, but speaking different lines (which will rotate and eventually repeat). As well, all characters share the same animations for setting up their shots, waving to the crowd, lining up their putts, and so on. This is where the ?budget title? heritage really rears its dreadful head, blatantly showing where they cut corners ? and though you can skip the lines and animated cut scenes, you also skip what gives this game its unique color and character, leaving you with just another golf sim. Hopefully publisher Global Star will be able to throw Hypnotix a few extra bucks to add a bit more creative variety in the next sequel.

Multiplayer

In Exhibition mode, you can play with up to three friends, or if you're short a person, you can play a mix of friends and computer opponents. In addition to its low sticker price, Outlaw Golf 2 gives further consideration to gamers on a tight budget by allowing everyone to use just one controller.

You can also hop onto Xbox Live and compete in up to four-player matches, or even create your own tournament. If you select the Simultaneous Play option, every player shoots at the same time, which really speeds things up. You can see your opponents' shots in real time as lines moving across the course, but will not see their characters; at the end of the hole, the scoreboard will pop up so you can compare how you did against the others. Your win/loss record will also be posted on Xbox Live leaderboards for all to envy (or laugh at).

As with most games, multiplayer is where you'll find the most fun, but even with the 13 different game variations, the fundamental goal is still the same: getting the ball in the hole in the least number of strokes. So unless you really enjoy golf, the replay value is a bit limited; but to be fair, you can say this about any golf game.

Bottom Line
Like it says on the box, Outlaw Golf 2 is lewd and crude, but a whole lot of fun. This is the perfect game for the casual golf gamer; it's not as refined or ?serious? as Links or Tiger Woods, but then again, it's not meant to be. Yet it still provides a decent, fun game of golf, complete with a big glob of attitude on the side. The vulgar humor is repetitive, and the camera will have you grinding your teeth at times, but for a measly $20 price tag, you can't go wrong enjoying a few rounds with the outrageous Outlaw gang.


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