Everybody's Golf VR Review: Clap Hanz Hits A Big Fat Chunk Shot
After a dozen Everybody's Golf titles reaching all the way back to the original PS1, developer Clap Hanz is bringing some tee-off action to the PSVR digital store today.
Sadly, rather than landing an albatross, Clap Hanz chunked it pretty hard.
If you've ever felt like PSVR games are too limited and too often seem like glorified tech demos, this title isn't going to increase your estimation of the current-gen virtual reality offerings.
Re-Learning Golf With a Severe Handicap
If you've spent any time honing your golf game in real life, you'll probably find this setup more frustrating than those who have never swung a club before.
Because of how the single camera setup works on the PSVR (by tracking the light ball on the Move Controller as the direction of the club), you will actually do worse if you try to stand and swing like you would on the range.
Instead, you have to re-train yourself to think in terms of VR mechanics, rather than in terms of form and proper swing technique. For instance, holding the Move Controller with two hands (like you would with any club) actively messes up the tracking and will actually make you less accurate.
Thankfully, you get the option to switch between practice swings and real swings on the fly while on any course. You'll unquestionably need to take advantage of that option. It is far too easy to push your club through the digital ground or hold it slightly too high and miss entirely since there's no solid feel and heft of a club in your hand.
Remember how some of the events on games like Kinect Sports for the Xbox 360 just felt like they couldn't be completed properly because the camera didn't recognize body parts well enough?
That's an issue here, and there's really no amount of practice that's going to make you a master of these mechanics. There's just simply no way (other than sheer, dumb luck) that anyone is ever going to make a hole in one on every single course to get those final trophies.
Immersion, or Lack Thereof
Clubs flickering in and out of the ground is just the start of the immersion-breaking problems that highlight how this round of golf wasn't ready for a full VR game quite yet.
Some objects in Everybody's Golf VR clearly have "presence" — they feel like they are actually there — while others very noticeably do not. The club, ball, ground, and foliage all feel transparent and weightless.
On the flip side, both the cart and caddy feel like they are there with you in a virtual rendition of the world.
Frankly, it seems like more work went into making the waifu caddy realistic than on mastering the actual golf physics. I'm not complaining on that front, mind you — having Riko bouncing around excitedly and shouting words of encouragement is without question the highlight of this game, although that's not exactly a compliment to the developers.
Aside from how fake the environment feels, there's a lack of overall immersion that makes Everybody's Golf VR pretty unsatisfying. If you want a different club, you just tap a button on the Move Controller to cycle through your options, rather than actually reaching over and grabbing one out of your bag.
This was a huge missed opportunity and an easy way to make a small change feel big. Even small games like Planet Of The Apes VR feature the ability to pick up ammo clips and insert them into a gun, or to swing your gun around behind you to stash it on your belt. Here, the developers didn't even implement a mechanic to look through your club choices and reach over to pick one up.
That's just the start though. Before long, you'll wonder why this game is even in VR to begin with, especially considering that everything is stationary. You tap a button to automatically move to where your ball landed, rather than walking there.
The end result is that you'll never get lost in the experience and feel like you are really golfing. You will be keenly aware at every moment that this is a game, and one that could have used more immersive mechanics.
I've got to give props to the developers for one neat mechanic, however. The ability to swap the camera viewpoint for an overhead look at the course is actually pretty nifty if you want to figure out the best angle to hit the ball and stay out of the rough.
The Bottom Line
- I could listen to Riko cheering me on while being adorably cute all day long
- You don't actually have to go outside and deal with slow-moving old, rich yuppies to play golf!
- There aren't that many golf VR games right now, so at least there's another option for the PSVR crowd?
- There is a wild lack of immersion here that kills the experience
- The mechanics are wonky and don't feel anything like real golf
- For the price, there should be way, way more to do here
Immersion aside, the biggest issue with Everybody's Golf VR is that there's honestly just not much to do here. There are only a handful of clubs, caddies, and courses to unlock. Once that's done, you've pretty much seen the game. A
couple of random events from the different caddies can be found that offer something a little different every now and again, but that's pretty much it.
Rather than an immersive golf simulator, this is more of a stripped down golf mini-game with a VR overlay. You will most definitely want to download the free trial to check out the practice range before you drop $29.99 on this game.
[Note: A copy of Everybody's Golf VR was provided by Clap Hanz for the purpose of this review.]