With Tiger Woods leaving the EA stable, the world of gaming is crying out for a new golf game, and the best place to have one is on the next gen with Xbox One. The timing of Powerstar Golf should therefore mean it’s a big old hit. Shouldn’t it?
Yes, yes it should. So what we got?
Powerstar Golf is pretty much as it says on the tin, a golf game with power, although the lack of stars is somewhat worrying. An Xbox One exclusive title, Powerstar has had the full might of Microsoft thrown behind it and is something we’ve been missing for the last few years, a golf game that doesn’t take itself too seriously and is good fun to play.
Setup with a cartoony style, and a simple 3 click shot gauge (one to start it, one to set the power and another to set the slice), it’s a far cry from the almost photo realistic Tiger Woods series we’ve been treated to on Xbox 360, but that’s not to say it doesn’t do the game of golf justice. A walk in the park has by no means been ruined by Powerstar and it’s additional ‘fun’ items make it something you’ll want to play for either a minute or an hour.
There are four gameplay options available from the start; career mode is your bread and butter, throwing you in to all manner of golfing situation. You can sometimes find yourself playing the front 9 holes of a tournament with only a few AI opponents, a full round or two against a big field of players, or a 3 hole match up against an unlockable character. Depending on how well you do in each event, you get rewarded with a medal (bronze, silver or gold), a load of XP and a few credits to spend on new equipment. Meanwhile, Free Play gives you the options to pick and choose any course, any character and any other amendments available to play the game as you like, whilst Local Multiplayer throws you in with either stroke play or match play options to play against a real world sofa friend. Finally Rivals Mode lets you go up against the scores of others around the world, in a battle to hit the lowest round on any one course.
Whilst the single player game and local multiplayer works brilliantly, it’s a shame to not see any form of real online multiplayer with the Rivals Mode being the only thing that brings in the slight comfort of online play. In a world dominated by playing against your friends and others, it’s a real strange decision to have such a weak online multiplayer situation as we have here. Rivals Mode, as previously mentioned, gives you the option to play against friends best scores, scores that they have previously set. There is no option to actually walk the course with them, watch what they are doing or have a jolly good time in party chat. It’s kind of like EA releasing a FIFA game with no 1v1 or Clubs mode. It wouldn’t be done, and it shouldn’t have been done here. Yes, every single shot of yours is recorded and you can see your own PB’s, your friends PB’s and any world records every time you play a shot, but that’s not multiplayer, that’s stat tracking…..something Powerstar does very very well, but not necessarily something gamers want to see taking pride of place over some good old fashioned multiplayer modes.
As for the actual game itself, there are six different characters to play as, although from the get go only two are available. The rest need to be unlocked by being beaten in a series of events throughout the career modes. All characters have their own unique skill sets and you can happily change character before each event if you feel one may have an edge over another on a certain course. As is the Powerstar way, each also has a different ‘special’ ability that they can fall back on at numerous times throughout an event. Depending on the player picked, you will find yourself firing off rocket powered shots, or split ball shots amongst others, whenever the need arises. You also get the option to use your caddies special skills should you so wish.
Course-wise, things are a little limited with only four different areas to visit, although there are also two final events that use a combination of all the previous courses. The way the events are split up in career mode means that whilst you get a nice enough feel for each course, things don’t get too repetitive and you never feel like it’s a chore to hammer your way round one just to get to the next.
There is also the option to upgrade your equipment and this is done by buying booster packs. Split over five levels, the cheapest boosters will cost a measly 1000 credits, but the chances of you getting any massive improvement over your bog standard clubs is very low. Alternatively, you could play a few rounds with your normal set and wait until you’ve amassed enough credits to buy Amateur, Pro, Elite or the Extreme packs. Near enough everything you do in game earns you XP and credits and so it doesn’t take long before you’ve earned yourself enough to buy a decent ish pack, although the Extreme ones, costing 60000 credits take a bit of grinding to achieve.
You could of course jump in and add credits via the microtransactions that the game allows but that will all depend on the type of gamer you are. If you’re happy to spend nearly £12 for 140000 credits then that’s up to you, but I personally would prefer to grind away and earn it the ‘proper way’.
Powerstar golf is great fun to play but the lack of a decent online real-time multiplayer mode cannot be overlooked. With it, the game would easily get a very solid 4/5 rating. Without it, you’re looking at a 3/5 middle-of-the-roader. It’s in no way a bad game, I’ve had loads of fun and had some real fist pumping moments when the big putts drop or that power drive hits the fairway, but it’s crying out for a multiplayer mode that would do it real justice.
If you have no friends or are just looking for a quick time passer, buy this. If you’re looking for something to have a laugh and joke with friends over, don’t bother.