My name is Dave Green and I am a Powerstar Golf-aholic.
I love Powerstar Golf. Love it and I’m going to tell you why (this is a “review”, afterall). As a family golf game, it’s perfectly accessible and playable – just as you’d expect. As a digital-only title, it’s cheap (although that often isn’t the case!). It covers all the modes you’d expect to find – free-play, career, multiplayer and rival modes are all included, as is an RPG-lite progression of the characters and equipment available to them. It’s a neat and tidy package but there are a couple of things that set it apart from the Everybody’s Golf’s of the gaming world – its charm, Dragon’s Dogma pawn-like caddies and a deceptive depth.
Make no mistake about it, Powerstar Golf is a serious golf game despite its cheery exterior and power-ups. For the first couple of courses, you won’t really notice. After a few rounds, you’ll be breaking personal records left, right and centre – chipping in from 70 yards out, putting like a pro and even the odd Eagle, or, if you’re really good, a hole-in-one. Dig a little further, and you’ll be in for a challenge. Later courses see you deal with strong winds, tricksy course layouts and uneven greens – you’ll need to pay attention to how you’re approaching the green; where will you aim to place the ball with thought going to what kind of spin you apply on the ball are paramount.
Thankfully, if the difficulty spike is too much for you, there’s still plenty to see and do in the earlier courses. In career mode, each course has a number of themed rounds with you aiming to get at least a bronze medal on each – though you’ll soon come back to try for that gold. Better still, every hole ranks you against your own, and your friends, personal bests for everything – longest drive, closest to the pin, longest put – Powerstar Golf is constantly pushing you to improve and it’s a genuine thrill when you set (or equal) a world record.
Persistent online is very much a consistent theme; you can improve you caddies with perks and boosters and share them out to your friends, who in turn can improve them further. It’s a nice feature and very similar to the one seen in Capcom’s Dragon’s Dogma, though not as in-depth. With this and Forza 5’s Drivatars though, you can see in which direction Microsoft are thinking gaming will go.
There are a few weak spots though. The difficulty spike can be off-putting as it comes out of nowhere – one minute your opponents and holes are gentle and relaxing, suddenly transforming into PGA level professionals and super challenging courses. The art style, voice-work and music is charming, though it strays very close to the line of annoying which some may not enjoy. There are microtransactions too, but it’s worth pointing out that I haven’t felt the need to use them yet as the in-game rewards are very generous. Thankfully, the transactions are fairly well hidden too.
At a £15.99/€19.99, Powerstar Golf is bargain – for yourself, for multiplayer or for the family. It’s flown under the radar against some of the Xbox One’s larger exclusive games but, for my money, it’s just as essential.
– Dave Green @davidpgreen83
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