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The Golf Club 2

Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Genre: Sports
Publisher: Maximum Games
Developer: HB Studios
Release Date: June 27, 2017


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Xbox One Review - 'The Golf Club 2'

by Cody Medellin on Aug. 9, 2017 @ 3:00 a.m. PDT

Aiming to build the strongest, most accessible golf game so far, The Golf Club 2 offers multiplayer features, a new Career mode, and limitless customization, allowing players to rise to fame in a vibrant, virtual golfing community.

Buy The Golf Club 2

The Golf Club started life as a PC title and was released in 2014 for the then-new generation of consoles. The reception was mixed, as some people appreciated the course creation system and simple yet nuanced gameplay mechanics, while others disliked the lack of a solid campaign. There was also more anticipation for EA's next golf game, which had been consistent and considered by many to be a reliable series. Fast-forward three years, after Rory McIlroy's PGA Tour was such a bad misfire that future golf games from EA have ceased to this day. As such, The Golf Club 2 remains the only golf game for fans of the sport to sink their teeth into.

The Golf Club 2 comes with a tutorial, which the first title was sorely lacking. You're taught the basics, like changing out clubs, swing and putting control, changing ball aim, and how to read the green. Much like the first game, you have no meters to read, but you will get feedback on your performance after every swing and putt. The game is quite generous when it comes to accuracy, so your shot will generally be fine as long as you don't veer too far in one direction. You'll learn how to best approach each hole by feel, and you'll only get help when you're putting; a grid is present to help you read the small elevations and other quirks of the green.

Another improvement aimed at newcomers is the ability to participate in some practice holes at the course of your choice. Since the game relies on practice for you to better understand the control mechanics, the addition of a practice mode is perfect for novices who want to improve without suffering any consequences. For a game that still heavily favors seasoned golfers, this feature is a godsend for everyone else.

In the main menu, you'll find that the number of modes is actually quite slim. Play Now is the one you'll return to often, as it is home to single-player and multiplayer. For the latter, this means either playing locally so each person alternates turns, playing online asynchronously, or downloading ghosts of players who've already gone through the course.

If you can get used to the lack of meters, then the only issue you'll have to contend with is one that occasionally appears during gameplay. Every once in a while, there's a small hitch during your backswing motion. It looks a bit awkward, but more importantly, it can also mess up the timing for your swing. You can fight this by not committing to the forward swing, but this is enough of a gameplay changer that you'll lose strength on some shots if you didn't remember to compensate for it.

The Golf Club 2 now has a career mode from the start, and it plays much differently from what you'd expect. You get to select events that end up being part of your season. Your participation in each event levels up your golf club, and you'll earn the chance to participate in more events before you wrap up another season. Completing the events also gives you cash for customization, which still features different aesthetic styles for both your clubhouse and your character.

The career mode is something of an anomaly in sports games. Without a license to fall back on, the title is only concerned with you getting better at golf by providing you with a roadmap.  It doesn't constantly highlight the created courses. Granted, your actual progress can get stifled since you have full control of your schedule, and you can easily select courses you know you're good at or that cater to your strengths, but at least you're the one calling the shots. That may be the best thing about this career mode, since no other sports game allows you to customize your path to greatness.

Then again, the promise of getting better, playing more events, and making your clubhouse look nice isn't much of a motivator for most people. For them, the online version of this, dubbed Societies, is much more fascinating. The blueprint is the same, except you can have matches between members of the same club. You also charging fees for players to join and participate in matches; the fees are then used to improve the club. In a way, it feels like the mode is bringing the business side of the sport into the game, as you'll have to come up with convincing reasons for people outside of your circle of friends to pour their in-game cash into your establishment.

The crown jewel remains its course creation system, which remains quite in-depth. With a controller, the creation of a course can seem daunting, especially if you're trying to create a full 18 holes, but it can be mastered with some practice. There aren't too many themes you can give your course, so they'll all look the same after a while, but golf fans will appreciate some of the creativity. The good news for those who created courses in the first game is that they can import their creations, so they can use things like the improved water for lakes. The even better news is that all of the courses that were uploaded for the first game are automatically playable here. Given the fact that the number of playable courses is already into six-digit figures, there's no shortage of content for this title in the foreseeable future.

Graphically, The Golf Club 2 is only a slight improvement over the first title. Namely, the skyboxes look better, and previous issues like shadow and object pop-in have been reduced significantly. Otherwise, the environments and character models look a little better than before. The frame rate has improved, but it still feels unstable even though it never goes above 30 fps. There's still the issue of detail pop whenever you see the ball travel, something that's especially noticeable on the shadows. It's not exactly a showcase title, but it doesn't look bad, either.

While the improvements on the audio side aren't that noticeable, it's still a solid package. The music is pretty much nonexistent, but the few tracks that are present are quite calming. The effects play out exactly as expected, but the lone caddie voice remains the standout of this area. He repeats his lines every so often, but his overall casual attitude and reactions to some of your actions is unusual in games. It's refreshing to hear someone in a sports game who just wants you to relax, and it makes the game feel breezy.

The Golf Club 2 is exactly what you want from a sports sequel. It's a much better version of the game that makes you forget about the previous title instead of longing for it. The number of modes still feels sparse when compared to EA's older golf titles, but the major additions do a good job of working toward something more comprehensive for golf game fans. The dedicated community shows that the game will have legs for years, much like the first game, and while the presentation hasn't improved greatly, it looks respectable by today's standards. Even though The Golf Club 2 is the only current serious golf game around, fans should be happy to know that it's still a very good title.

Score: 7.5/10

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