Outlaw Golf 2 REVIEW

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.

The game does not take slant or elevation into account when lining up to hit the ball, so more often than not, you’re likely to hit the ball pretty much right where you’re looking to put it as long as you've factored wind and spin correctly. Accuracy in this game is very important since it punishes you for being in the rough more than any golf game I can recall. This really forces you to take it easy on the par fives and make sure that you stay in the fairway, becausee if you’re in the rough, odds are you’re not going be able to get a good shot with a fairway wood, and you'll have to use your irons to slowly work your way to the green.
“Outlaw Golf 2” doesn’t feature the traditional analog swing game of other games on the market; instead they’ve added their own twist to it. You can pull back on the stick to get the power bar as full as you want it, and when the power lowers to the level that you wish, you push up on the analog stick. This allows you to be near perfect with your velocity each time. If you choose, you can perform the swing in one motion, but that takes away from your likelihood of striking the ball as you intended. "Tour" mode can be challenging enough as it is, so you likely won’t be looking to make things more difficult than they need to be for quite a while.
While the gameplay is solid, I was very disappointed with the risk/reward factor in the game. It's strange that in a game titled "Outlaw Golf" that you’re very rarely rewarded for taking risks - in fact, most of the time that I’d try to play a little dangerously to try to get a jump on the AI players, I’d end up losing the hole or strokes - taking chances in this game does not pay off. It could be argued that this adds more realism to the game, but with the wacky characters and over-the-top courses, it’s hard to confuse this game with a pure "sim" title.

"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.

The main game mode is the Tour which you can take each character through seven different events. Each character follows a different path of events, and with each event that you win, you’ll unlock courses, clothing, characters, or even different events to help you increase the golfers’ attributes on the Outlaw Range. The events on the tour will vary dramatically; you’ll see all twelve different types of play that the game has to offer over the course of Tour mode. These gameplay types include "Baseball", "Pickup Sticks", "Time Attack", "Casino", and of course less off-beat games like stroke, match, and "Skins" play.
If you’re looking for multiplayer action, or want to set up a particular gameplay type that you’re in the mood for, then Exhibition is where it's at. You can set up any of the twelve game types on any of the courses that you’ve unlocked, as well as choosing to play the front nine, back nine, or the full 18.
The Outlaw Range is where you'll go to build up your characters. By completing different skill events on the range, you’re able to gain attribute points which you can distribute to different areas on each character. However, each character does have their limitations. There are different limits for each character as far as how strong you may be able to make them in each of the six areas (Control, Distance, Accuracy, Composure, Putting, and Fighting).

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.

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 courses are detailed to the point that occasionally you’ll find moving objects in the background. I almost shanked a shot because I was surprised when I saw a large plane flying overhead. If you bit a ball into a tree, you’ll notice leaves and branches falling out. Each course is also supplied with a gallery designed specifically for that course; such as the half-naked villagers in Aztec Acres, or gothic golf fans on Spooky Hollow. You can also hit people in the gallery, which is entertaining (for the first couple of times), and as a "reward" it instantly puts your composure “In the Zone”. However, if you’re near the crowd when you’re hitting, they will move out of the way if they’re in your line of fire.

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.

If you’re playing with Simultaneous Play “off”, while the other player is hitting the ball, your camera is free to zoom in and circle around the player 360 degrees while they are preparing to shoot. You can even hit the “A” button to taunt the other player and shake their controller. Unfortunately, when your opponent is giving his caddy a beat down or doing a golf cart challenge, you’re stuck looking at his golfer standing at the tee. Fortunately, neither of those things takes too long, but it certainly would have been nice to see what the other golfer was up to during these modes.

“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".

Outlaw Golf 2 Score
out of 10