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Outlaw Golf 2

There are two types of sports games: serious and arcade. Hot Shots Golf falls into the latter category. Tiger Woods is a serious golf game. If youíre looking for a serious golf game, thatís the game for you, right? Or is there something else out there for you? No, itís not Links, that franchise is gone ñ for now at least. What else is there on Xbox? The one golf game that youíve been passing by all these years, the one without a famous athlete on the cover: Outlaw Golf. Youíre thinking I must be nuts if I think that Outlaw Golf is a serious golf game. The sheer absurdity of the title must make the actual golfing equally ridiculous. Convicts and strippers canít possibly play a real game of golf. Youíd be surprised; they actually play a great game of golf, one thatís very entertaining and is fairly deep, even if it doesnít necessarily take the realistic route.

Iím sure most everyone has heard about the premise of Outlaw Golf, and now its sequel, Outlaw Golf 2. Itís the game that gets rid of the country club and instead throws you in the middle of New Jersey for nine holes of golf with trees, freeways, and power lines as a backdrop. Looks however can be deceiving. I assumed from the get-go that this would be a great pick-up-and-play style golf game, it actually challenges the player with great ball physics and well-designed courses. These additions may please casual gamers looking for something to fool around with every now and then, I think most of the great aspects found in Outlaw Golf 2 will be appreciated the most by actual golf fans.

Initially, I had a little trouble with Outlaw Golf 2. Iím not the most experienced sports gamer out there, and I found for the first few tournament plays, I didnít ever win. The problem was that the computer-controlled opponents were always perfect with their shots and rarely made mistakes. This does not help a player just starting the game for the first time. Fortunately, once I played more and more of the tournament mode, I actually began to understand and figure out a few more of the games aspects and was eventually a force to be reckoned with.

The first tool I discovered to assist me was probably the handiest, and thatís a grid that appears with the press of a button that allows you to assess your target areas elevations. With this, I was able to use the terrain to help me roll the ball in directions where Iíd then be able to get off another good shot. This is particularly helpful on courses that have bends in them; without it I think I would have been shooting off into trees.

Of course, I still blundered from time to time in assessing the landing area, and sometimes I did need to get around trees. Trying to thread my ball through the trees worked about as well as me trying to thread a needle, Iíd eventually get it, but only after Iíd messed up a few times. I then discovered that through the use of the second analog stick I could control the way the ball spun, allowing me to angle the ball around corners and land it in better positions. Combined with the grid feature, I was pretty capable of keeping up with my opponents.

Outlaw Golf 2 gives you a lot of things if you keep working at it. For starters, there are oodles of original characters with unique personalities and funny dialogue. Even the caddies have funny quips occasionally. What most of the players say depends on your performance, which is judged by the game’s composure meter. Should you suck, itíll get really low, and your player will get visibly stressed out. This hurts your game. However, should you plunk an onlooker with a ball, set a course record, land a shot right on the green, make a great putt, beat up your caddy or dozens of other things, your composure with improve, and when it gets filled youíre playing at the top of your game. You can hit longer and straighter. While the system does seem to be overly harsh at times (landing in the rough but landing ten feet from the hole in the process still deducts from your composure because youíre in the rough, albeit with an incredible ball location), it forces you to take every shot seriously in a game that can at times be silly.

Of course, most people think that golf is just way too boring, so if it were a serious game all of the time, most would probably get pretty bored with it. Thankfully, you can do all sorts of things in this game outside of just hitting the greens. You can take a golf cart for a spin (the first game supposedly to allow you to do that) through fun courses, complete with rings and jumps. If your game is a little bit off, you can use a token and beat the crap out of your caddie, which gets you back in a good mood. Thereís even an 18-hole mini-golf course included in the game. One of the best ëdeboringí features of the game is the ability to skip watching your opponent shoot and a fast-forward button so you can see where your shot lands in half the time.

Outside of all the frills, the actual golfing is very good. The putting game is nicely done, and even includes an option that creates a track of the ballís trajectory for those of us out there who canít always tell where itís going to go. Hitting the ball is easy and simple, just pull the left analog stick down, watch the meter in the corner, and when it gets to the level of power you want, push the stick up and there goes your ball. The courses, as ridiculous as they may sound, actually use a lot of their setting to create natural feeling courses, and theyíre really a blast to check out. Youíre warmed up to each hole in a brief introduction video that shows you all the nooks and crannies, but surprises still occur.

The game offers full Xbox Live support, and quite a few people were online, chipping away. I was quite surprised, there was a lot of trash-talk and what not with it, but everyone seemed a little more polite playing this game than some of the other ones Iíve played recently. Maybe itís because the game allows you to take out your aggression in comical ways, so people are less angry at you when theyíre being beaten. The game even looks great too (even if the graphics arenít Halo 2), but thereís very little to complain about. Environments all look great, animations are smooth, and all of the character models look pretty realistic (including the girl’s extra equipment). Dave Attell, the famed comedian and host of Comedy Centralís Insomniac show provides the color-commentary, and while it does eventually get repetitive, itís pretty funny. He fits the game nicely.

In the end, I really liked Outlaw Golf 2. It certainly wasnít what I expected, but thatís not a bad thing, right? Outlaw Golf 2 features a ton of features that will convince you to pick up this budget priced hit, but will also keep you playing this for months to come.

8 out of 10

The author of this fine article

is an Associate Editor at Thunderbolt, having joined in February 2003.

Gentle persuasion

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