Whether you live for the links or think golf is a good walk spoiled, it's impossible not to like the Everybody's Golf series. A smiley, cartoony, fiendishly addictive rival to more realistic golf games, the emphasis in Everybody's Golf is on having fun with a cast of wacky characters while enjoying a great game of golf at the same time.
A shot in the arm
Everybody's Golf: World Tour features a brand new shot system, replacing the previous games' three-click method. Now the emphasis is on your character's swing - the strength of the shot is determined by the angle of your swing and the straightness of your shot is determined by your timing as the club strikes the ball. Series aficionados can still use the tried and tested three-click method, but the new Advanced Shot style is an incredibly intuitive control scheme that makes hitting 300 yard drives a breeze.
Once you're on the green, things become a little trickier. Putting remains all about gauging your power from the club angle, and you're given a handy power indicator which shows you where your putt should theoretically go. However, a little too much power, or a slight mistake in the angle of the shot can mean the difference between ending up in the hole and ending up in the rough on the other side of the green.
Par for the course
The move to the next generation means the presentation has been ramped up to jaw-dropping levels. Each course looks flawless, with beautiful environmental effects including flowing rivers, driving rain and even stray wildlife such as rabbits and ladybirds. Shots are accompanied by a variety of spectacular visual and sound effects and long drives sail high through the skies as the camera switches angles to give you the most panoramic views possible followed by close-up views of your ball as it nestles snugly in the inviting grass of the green. This is in addition to the characters you'll get to play who are all quirky, individual and beautifully animated, and include some returning favourites from the Everybody's Golf series, as well as real-life Japanese golfer Shigeki Maruyama, known as the Smiling Assassin for his ever-present smile while on the course.
The single-player game has a beautifully judged learning curve. Challenges are grouped into blocks of eight - complete enough of these challenges and you unlock a versus match against a new challenger. Beat this challenger and you will rise up a rank, and also unlock the new character to use yourself in the next tier. Each course you clear also gives you little gifts, such as new clubs, balls and new caddies to accompany you round the course. Each of the new clubs has its own strengths and weaknesses and it's possible to make up for the shortcomings of particular characters by pairing them with a club that disguises their particular weakness. So, for example, a character with a short drive can be made a much more appealing prospect by giving them a big air driver, while a character with poor control can get a lot better using a precision club.
Stroke of genius
There are 15 characters, six courses and seven caddies to unlock throughout the course of the game, complete with stroke play, match play, challenges and a training course to perfect your swing. Online, the game becomes even more impressive. You can play against friends head-to-head, or go to the lovingly designed online lobbies modelled after Japanese hot springs and tatami rooms where you can create an avatar, complete with wacky outfits that you unlock in the single player game. Here it really is everybody's golf, as you can play tournaments with up to 50 other people online giving you the chance to test your skills against the very best in the world. In between rounds, you can also head to PlayStation Store (PS3) to download a wide range of new content including characters, courses, clubs, clothing and other golf swag to help keep you game fresh.
With its incredibly addictive, one-more-go gameplay, and surprising depth and replayability Everybody's Golf: World Tour is everything the perfect golf game should be: involving, challenging and, above all, fun. The inclusion of 50 person online tournaments and on and offline multiplayer are just the icing on what is already an essential PS3 purchase. Fore!