The sequel adds a career mode, online societies, enhanced character customization, and of course the deep course creation of the original. But is it easier to play than its ultra-challenging predecessor?
Preparing to golf
The Golf Club 2 starts out with a tutorial that explains its intricate swinging mechanics, how to change clubs, and more. The tutorial is welcome, as this is an extremely difficult game. But it's also painful due to black loading screens that interrupt the flow of information and an announcer who has obvious difficulty reading his lines smoothly.
After that rough beginning, you can access your profile and customize your golfer. Character customization was a big weakness in the first Golf Club, and thankfully it has improved dramatically here. You can adjust numerous aspects of your male or female golfer, although height, weight, and bust size are notably fixed. Hair and clothing colors are fully customizable.
Emblems and additional clothing options must be purchased with currency earned through completing challenges during gameplay. The currency system and buyable clothes provide goals to shoot for, something the first game notably lacked. But less skilled players like me will find the challenges awfully hard to complete, so the money might roll in slowly.
Career and presentation
Whereas the first Golf Club consisted of individual courses to play with no connective tissue, the new game has a career of sorts. You have to create a career and then customize the parameters such as number of events, AI participants, and difficulty. Having set up your career, you'll then go through however many courses you set up. Between courses, you can spend winnings to upgrade your society and buy new clubhouses.
The new career provides some structure for players who need it, though it's still relatively lacking in presentation. That said, the actual graphics have been noticeably upgraded, with 3D human crowds on the course (no more lone animal spectators!) and greater environmental detail.
The Golf Club 2 might look a lot nicer than its predecessor, but for better or worse, it plays exactly the same. This is not an arcade-style golf game; it's a brutally unforgiving simulation.
Instead of stopping meters to adjust the strength of your stroke, you'll swing with the right- or left-analog stick. Pull the stick down to wind up, and then push it up to whack the ball. The straighter your motion, the more accurate your shot will fly. The actual speed of your up and down swing affects the shot as well.
In concept, that's not a bad swinging mechanic. But in practice, it's just too damn hard to consistently make straight shots of the desired power level. Try to swing a little short of full strength and you'll just as likely hit the ball with no strength at all. Aim perfectly straight and it'll turn out you moved a few millimeters to the side, sending the ball into the rough.
The problem is the game just doesn't give you any guides to help with aiming or to judge how your shot is going before you connect with the ball. You can switch to an overhead view that shows the general location you're aiming towards, but you can't aim from that view like in other golf games. I've sometimes hit a nearly perfect shot only to have it land somewhere unexpected because The Golf Club 2 doesn't want me to know where the ball is going.
Even putting, often a simple and enjoyable activity in other games, is a major challenge here. Hitting the ball with anything less than very minor strength or very high strength is all but impossible for me. My shots quite often miss the mark and roll well past the hole thanks to minor differences in elevation. When every aspect of hitting the ball, from regular shots to puts, is a major ordeal, your golf game is probably harder than necessary.
As with the original, The Golf Club 2's greatest strengths are its course creation and sharing tools. The course creator lets you select from several climates, terrain types, adjust water level, tree density, overall difficulty, the number of holes, and much more. You can even import your custom courses from the first game. It's a really powerful editor.
Cool custom courses only matter if you can find them easily, and The Golf Club 2 doesn't slouch there. Numerous filters let you search for friends' courses, friends' favorites, official HB Studios courses, popular courses, and even courses suited to your handicap. Finding new courses to play will never be a problem here.
The Golf Club 2 supports 4-player local multiplayer as well as asynchronous online multiplayer. When playing online, you'll go through the course like normal, but you'll also see your friend's actions alongside you. It feels like real-time multiplayer, except that you can't chat with each other unless you're in a party. There are large-scale asynchronous tournaments, too.
New to this game are online societies, the equivalent of guilds or clans. Societies basically function as multiplayer versions of the career mode, allowing a group of players to participate in courses and tournaments as well as working towards upgrading the society clubhouse.
The Xbox One version of The Golf Club 2 offers 26 Achievements worth a total of 1,000 Gamerscore. The easier ones involve completing an 18-hole course, completing a career season, sinking 25 puts in one session of putting practice, and favoriting ten courses.
The hardest ones are getting a hole-in-one and getting a hole-in-one from over 250 feet away. This is an extremely tough game, and a lot of the Achievements will be out of reach unless you happen to fully grok its complex mechanics.
The Golf Club 2 is a nicely improved sequel to the launch-era first game. Career mode, online societies, improved graphics and loading times, and strong character customization all make for a larger and longer lasting game. I just wish the actual golfing was friendlier.
If Golf Club 2 played like Mario Golf or other traditional golf games but had all the same features, I'd play it forever. But the golf mechanics here are an unforgiving and acquired taste, limiting the game's appeal. If you can handle the analog swinging and steep difficulty, this might be just the club for you.
The Golf Club 2 costs $39.99, five dollars more than the first game's launch price.
- Career mode and online societies provide long-term replay value.
- Graphics are much improved over the first game.
- You can hit a squirrel with a golf ball.
- Golf mechanics are too unforgiving.
- Your golfer's body size and type can't be customized.
- The tutorial narrator is amazingly bad.
Xbox One review copy provided by the publisher.
Considering EA seem to be done making PGA games ill be giving this series a look. EA aren't even updating Rory Mcilroys anymore. And they promised they would look after that game for 5 years.
Rory never had a chance. It felt like they wanted to say they tried so they could cancel the franchise. They barely had any content, be it in terms of character customization, courses, or something else. I think it launched with 11 licensed PGA courses at first, if I remember correctly, and only added a few more after that (and it was one every few months). EA wasn't even trying with that game. The career mode was just the same few tournaments on the same few courses with no real sense of progress or accomplishment. They barely had any licensed golfers either.
Are the controls really difficult on the easiest difficulty level?
Difficulty doesn't affect the controls. AFAIK it just affects the performance of the AI golfers in Career mode.
Controls take a bit of practice, but I never had any major issues with them in the first one. I'm really glad to hear this one has a career mode, the original didn't. The game itself still has a really sterile and lifeless tone. I know golf isn't the most exciting sport but I still wish they would spice it up a little.
Hey dude, you can hit squirrels with golf balls. How much more personality do you need??? :)
Some of the design decisions which make the game hard may have been driven by their positioning of the game for use in golf simulators. I mean the full size swinging-a-club golf simulators. I don't see why they couldn't have a more forgiving mode though. The Rory McIlroy PGA Tour game successfully executed different control modes - arcade vs classic.
Im great at golf, all I need is a type of golf stick then ill owned the round, that's because it happens in my dream lol! Just joking! For seriousness golf is a rich man hobby, im glad it is made to a game, but i prefer golf games with power and much cuter character.
If you're in the right area, golf doesn't HAVE to be a rich man's game. It cam become that in a hurry though, for sure. Otherwise, you can get a secondhand set of old clubs for $50-100, or a lower-end, new set for $300-500. It's a steep initial investment, but so are hobbies like gaming (hardware costs, digital services, etc.). In my area, most courses are about $30-40 for a round. However, the place I go to regularly is only $15/round, which really isn't bad. Basically, the cost of golfing in a week is the same or less than someone's weekly Starbucks hobby! You're definitely right that it can be slanted towards the fiscal elite, though. I put several hundred dollars into my irons a few years back, but you tend to keep those clubs for 5+ years, so it's easier to justify that investment. If I can spend $800 or more to put together a PC that'll last 3-5 years, I think it's reasonable to do the same for my golf clubs.
Glad to see this is still a challenging game. Looking forward to purchasing it.
I find the rating to be sort of a disappointing result of bad complaints. The game is meant to be the rare sports sim game that is what it claims to be. It's not a pseudo-sim, it is supposed to simulate the challenges of golf. Your complaints about difficulty are what I experience when I actually golf--if I'm off a little on my distance (be it from swing strength or club selection), I could end up adding 3 shots because I roll off the back of the green or end up short of it in the rough. If I'm a little errant, I might end up way off course. The game does exactly what it says, and the complaint is that it's too honest in a sea of "sim" sports games that really aren't that sim (looking at you, Forza Motorsport and NBA 2K). You knock it for not playing like Mario Golf when it never claims to want to be that. I don't get the idea of a rating being "what I like," in this case. The game set out with a clear list of goals, and it sounds like it hit most of them really well. It's like being mad that Dark Souls isn't Devil May Cry--it's not supposed to be what it iisn't, it's supposed to be the hardcore alternative for those looking to be challenged. I'm big on their unwillingness to compromise quality to feed the masses another golf game with the way-too-easy 3-tap system we saw EA do with Rory Mcilroy and the whole industry do with arcade/pseduo-sim stuff of the past.
I had difficulty playing the first game, it seems it will be the same this time around, although the game doesn't seem to be aimed at a player such as myself. Nice to see the added features and changes though! Looks good, great review.
Wow about the squirrels. Such a small feature yet it makes the game unique.
I think the last PGA Tour game I played was a Tiger Woods title, so it's been a while. I played it on Wii though, which was actually fun because you had to swing like you were swinging a golf club. Using the thumbsticks to control your strokes just seems like it would be extremely difficult, inaccurate, and not repeatable. Being off the slightest bit on the stick could mean huge deviations in your power and aim.
Watching this game in preview videos I'm struck by how poor the lighting model looks. It just looks very flat and desaturated, with some questionable textures. Looks don't make the game of course, but I'll probably wait for it to go on sale before I take the plunge. I do like the idea of player run multiplayer tournaments, that will be a great feature.
I think everyone knows and agrees that Mario Golf for the GameCube is the best golfing game ever. Nice write-up, keep up the good work, Paul.
This does look a bit on hard side for me but could be up for the challenge, thumbs up review !
How is it a con that the game is difficult? The game is a golf simulator, its not meant to be easy. Bad review, knocking a game for something it set out to be.
No, a review voicing a different opinion than yours does not make it bad. As for how the difficulty is a con, that is thoroughly explained in the review.
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