Outlaw Golf 2 Review (Xbox)
More than two years after the original "Outlaw Golf" hit shelves, Ice Tray, Summer and friends are revamped and back to take the world of golf by storm with their innovative style of play and crude sense of humor. The sequel offers more than twice as many courses, tons of multiplayer game modes, and even Xbox Live compatibility. Does “Outlaw Golf 2” climb to the top of the leader board, or is it still struggling to get on tour?
Despite what the title, characters, and obnoxious humor might lead you to believe; at its heart, “Outlaw Golf 2” is a surprisingly realistic golf game. The game's style of play calls for you to put the ball right down the middle of the fairway and play smart golf - even more so than some of the more “sim” games on the market. The graphics and some of its features help it appeal to the non-golf fan, but the gameplay is strong enough to make true golf fans come back for an occasional 18 holes. The ball physics could be improved; while it flies fine in the air and on contact, the ball tends to take weird hops, which can make it hard to figure out exactly how to hit the ball.
"Composure" is an interesting aspect to the game. You'll start off neutral, but depending on how you play you’re able to range from “In the Gutter” to “In the Zone”. The composure will actually affect how far and accurately you’re able to hit the ball, allowing you extra power and accuracy when you’re playing well, and affecting you negatively when you’re playing poorly. Unfortunately, it's a bit too black and white. I smacked a ball perfectly, and it took a beautiful bounce and dropped two feet from the green in the rough and I watched my composure go down. However, when the ball rests about 20 yards from the green on the fairway, you'll watch it go up or at least remain the same. You can build your composure back up by beating up your caddy. You read that right. In the pause menu, you’ll find that you can use tokens you’ve earned to beat up your caddy as a way to gain composure back, and quite possibly take it straight from "In the Gutter" to "In the Zone". You can also use your tokens to drive a golf cart, which will allow you to drive your character’s personalized golf cart through a course in an allotted time period - and if done successfully, earns you a perfectly powered shot on your next swing. This can be very handy if you use it at key times, but it's important to choose wisely when spending your tokens.
The four main modes of play in “Outlaw Golf 2” are Tour, Exhibition, Outlaw Range, and Xbox Live.
There's an oddity in the game that occurs during skins play. If there are still skins left at the end of the round, you don’t play another playoff hole for them - instead, no one gets them at all. I had one instance where there were three players and none of us won a skin in nine holes - making us all losers! If two people tie on the last hole, the remaining money is split between them. Other modes do allow for extra play to break ties - for instance you can force extra innings if you’re tied at the end of a baseball round. It's not a deal-breaker for the entire game, I suppose - but it's an egregious error that absolutely should have been fixed.
GRAPHICS AND AUDIO
Visually, I don’t think you’re going to find a better golf game on the market. The courses are beautifully designed, bright and colorful - unless you’re playing on Spooky Hollow - which is as dark and dreary as you'd expect.
The sound is the biggest drawback to this game. While the actual gameplay sounds are fine, the commentary and music are simply horrendous. Luckily, it does support custom soundtracks on the Xbox, so you’re not forced to listen to the awful soundtrack. I was tremendously disappointed with Dave Attell’s commentary, and if left me wondering why they didn't have Stephen Colbert (of Comedy Central's "The Daily Show") add a commentary track again. After playing a few rounds with the commentary on, I finally got smart and turned it off - which made playing the game far more enjoyable. You may also want to lose the cut scenes. Some of them are entertaining, but most of them aren’t, and even the ones that were once funny become stale rather quickly.
Multiplayer gaming is easily one of “Outlaw Golf 2”’s best features. The more people you have playing, the more diversity in the types of game you can use when playing events. Luckily for those people that don’t have friends lying around the house to play against (or maybe that's lucky!), you’ll be able to find an opponent on Xbox Live. On Live, you can choose from any of the game modes that you could normally create in exhibition mode offline, plus - when you're online, you won’t need to unlock the courses to play them - they’re all available to you from the get-go.
“Outlaw Golf 2” features online tournaments; however, you can only set up your own tournaments once you have gotten yourself to a level fifty in the online play rankings. You can accomplish this by playing in other peoples' tournaments - and the developers themselves put their own tournament up each week. Even if you haven’t played or signed up for a tournament, you can still check the leader board for each event to see how the competitors are shooting.
"Tour" mode should challenge most gamers for at least the $20 price tag’s amount of time, and if unlocking goodies motivates you to play games, then “Outlaw Golf 2” will keep you coming back for a while. Once you turn off the commentary and cut scenes, this is a very solid golf game, but if you’re only getting one golf game this year - for ten dollars more, you might get more birdies for your buck with "Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2005".