You don’t have to wear crazy pants to play, but it helps


GOLF USED TO HAVE a his­tory on PC. We guess it still does, it’s just re­ced­ing more quickly as the years go by. There was Links, of course, in its 386 Pro (which be­came Mi­crosoft­Golf) and 2003 in­car­na­tions, de­liv­er­ing re­mark­able graph­ics for the time. Then there was EA with its PGATour games, a se­ries that evolved the swing past a se­ries of col­ored wheels into some­thing you could re­ally get some power be­hind.

GolfClub de­vel­oper HB Stu­dios has his­tory, too, with EA. Work­ing on cricket and rugby games, along with FIFA, Mad­den, and NBA ti­tles, the stu­dio even put out 2010’ s Tiger Woods P GA Tour game on PS 2. Some­thing about that game clearly stuck, as TheGolfClub2 will be fa­mil­iar to any­one who’s played PGATour.

The me­chan­ics of golf, that game beloved of pres­i­dents and men who want to dress like id­iots, are cer­tainly well rep­re­sented, the ana­log swing tuned for both mouse and con­troller use. A twitchy thumb can ruin your shot what­ever method you choose, and the speed of your swing is taken into ac­count—smooth­ness is every­thing, and a rushed swing lead­ing to a jerky fin­ish is as bad as de­vi­at­ing from the cen­ter line.

In com­mon with other golf games, play­ing out on the fair­ways is straight­for­ward, as long as you knock the ball roughly in the right di­rec­tion and get de­cent dis­tance, while putting is a liv­ing hell that can trap you for what seems like cen­turies, gen­tly drib­bling the ball inches closer to a hole that not only seems too small for the ball to fit in, but also turns in­vis­i­ble and tele­ports. A grid show­ing slope and el­e­va­tion helps hugely, but this is the part of the game that takes many hours of prac­tice to mas­ter. The pol­ished tu­to­rial talks you through it, and when you get one in the hole first time, the feel­ing of vic­tory is im­mense.

It’s GC2’ s struc­ture that dif­fers from other ti­tles. In­stead of play­ing a mapped­out ca­reer, as­cend­ing through lo­cal com­pe­ti­tions and am­a­teur leagues to the pro game, you choose your path. You choose your golfer, too, through a well-equipped char­ac­ter cre­ator, so the game feels per­sonal from the start. Cus­tom cour­ses make an ap­pear­ance, and mul­ti­player So­ci­eties bring peo­ple to­gether to play, both on­line and in a lo­cal turn-based mode.

Golf games have of­ten shone graph­i­cally, but GC2 has a few is­sues, shad­ows in par­tic­u­lar ap­pear­ing hard-edged and blocky, es­pe­cially if you move to the wrong an­gle. An­other quirk is the al­ways-on­line sin­gle-player game, rul­ing it out as a timekiller for lap­top-tot­ing trav­el­ers.

There isn’t a great deal of com­pe­ti­tion on PC. Jack­Nick­lausPer­fec­tGolf is out there, and a VR ver­sion of the first GolfClub, but in the ab­sence of big-name li­censes, GC2 mostly avoids the rough.

Play­ing from a bunker ham­pers your shot— best to avoid them.

Putting is hell.

For­est cour­ses look great ’ til you

notice the re­peated tree as­sets.

A bird's eye view lets you plan your strat­egy.

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