The Golf Club 2

The Golf Club 2 hits harder with more ac­cu­racy, but the ball still oc­ca­sion­ally ends up in the rough.

PC GAMER (UK) - - CONTENTS - By Andy Kelly

Once upon a time, PC was the home of golf games. PGATour, Links, Jack­Nick­laus, you were spoiled for choice. But then the genre faded away, which made the ar­rival of the orig­i­nal GolfClub back in 2014 so ex­cit­ing. Golf is back! But while it was a de­cent sim­u­la­tion with an ad­mirable lack of gim­micks, it was lack­ing in a few key ar­eas – some of which this se­quel has, I’m glad to dis­cover, con­fi­dently dealt with.

There’s a ca­reer mode now, with a bit of a twist. In­stead of play­ing through a pre­scribed se­ries of tour­na­ments, you can cre­ate your own sea­son, choos­ing which cour­ses to play on, how many rounds there are and so on. The down­side is that a ca­reer doesn’t feel as hand­crafted as it could have been, with cin­e­mat­ics and vis­ual flour­ishes to make you feel like you’re play­ing in some­thing like the Masters or the Bri­tish Open. This is one area the later PGATour games ex­celled in. But I can for­give HB Stu­dios for not hav­ing the fi­nan­cial clout of EA to buy the rights to these events.

Tour­na­ments feel live­lier – crowds re­act with cheers, groans, or sharp in­takes of breath as you play. This is a small touch, but a big im­prove­ment on the life­less first game. And while the tu­to­ri­als in the orig­i­nal were rel­e­gated to ex­ter­nal YouTube videos, here there’s a slick, in­ter­ac­tive, and easy-to-un­der­stand guide to the in­tri­ca­cies of the game, from some­thing as sim­ple as tak­ing a shot,

to tech­niques like draw­ing and fad­ing the ball. As a re­sult, the game should be more wel­com­ing to new play­ers.

The lack of a ca­reer mode and tu­to­ri­als were some of the most com­mon com­plaints about the first game, and it’s clear HB Stu­dios has been lis­ten­ing. Else­where, though, the core golf­ing feels very fa­mil­iar. I ad­vise play­ing with a con­troller, be­cause the swing­ing feels tai­lored to an ana­logue stick. Pull it back to de­ter­mine how hard you’ll hit the ball, then push it for­ward to swing. The straighter your push, the straighter the ball will go. It’s an el­e­gant sys­tem, but lacks the pre­cise feed­back of a power bar setup.

Tempo is new in TheGolfClub2, how­ever. Pull back or push for­ward too slowly or too quickly and your shot will suf­fer. Get both just right with a smooth, even swing and your ball will soar with in­creased ac­cu­racy. It’s a nice ad­di­tion to the swing sys­tem, bring­ing an ex­tra layer of depth. Putting is still a night­mare, though. The learn­ing curve is ei­ther steep, or the green is hard to read. I can’t fig­ure it out, and I never have more trou­ble than when I’m try­ing to sink the ball at the end of a hole.

I’m glad to see (well, hear) the re­turn of com­men­ta­tor John McCarthy, whose en­cour­ag­ing nar­ra­tion is a high­light. He’s the only real per­son­al­ity of the game, which other­wise feels quite cold and clin­i­cal. It’s had a no­tice­able vis­ual boost, but shad­ows pix­e­lat­ing and trees pop­ping in dur­ing hole fly­overs are a few of the vis­ual nig­gles that stop the thing from feel­ing pol­ished.

Crowds re­act with cheers, groans, or sharp in­takes of breath

Team Player

As for mul­ti­player, you can play lo­cally or in a turn-based mode with a ghost ball, which isn’t quite the same as play­ing in real time with a pal. And So­ci­eties let you cre­ate and join guilds of like-minded golfers. Be warned, though: if you’re plan­ning on play­ing a solo ca­reer, you’ll need an ac­tive in­ter­net con­nec­tion. An op­tion to down­load cour­ses to play off­line would have been nice, but alas, it’s on­line or noth­ing. This seems like the kind of game that would be good to take on a lap­top on a train jour­ney, and it’s a shame to limit that.

TheGolfClub2 im­proves on just enough from its pre­de­ces­sor to jus­tify its ex­is­tence, and feels like a much more re­fined pack­age. Even with all the new bells and whis­tles, I still like how it’s a gim­mick-free ex­pe­ri­ence. HB knows, first and fore­most, we’re here to play golf, and that seems to have re­mained its fo­cus when mak­ing this se­quel. With a bit more pol­ish, proper on­line mul­ti­player, and a more be­spoke, hand­crafted feel, this se­ries could be­come some­thing spe­cial. And it’s not like there’s any com­pe­ti­tion to worry about.

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