reviews\ Nov 16, 2002 at 7:00 pm

Outlaw Golf - GC - Review

Ah … the peace and quiet of the local golf course. Usually, when I think of golf I think of green grass, trees, and just good old-fashioned competition between friends. Well, Outlaw Golf for the Gamecube (and for the Xbox recently) has come out to shatter that whole idea and throw the “good sportsmanship” thing right out the bathroom window. Well, what better way to use a 4 – Iron than to bash someone over the head, right?


When you play Outlaw Golf, don’t be expecting to see some clean-cut folks or players like Tiger Woods out hitting the links. The motley assortment of players ranges from such misfits as a stripper, an ex-con, a wannabe rapper, or a dominatrix … just to name a few. Each one has their own caddies as well, who consist of partners, lawyers, and significant others and just add to the overall wackiness of the title.


The controls in Outlaw Golf are similar to other golf titles out there, and there is also a trajectory meter to help you determine where your shot will land or how much it will arc to avoid hitting trees and such when hitting down the fairway. In addition, the point of contact on the ball can be adjusted to allow for lower hang time and higher rolling or vice versa. One really neat thing that they did in this title was to implement using the control stick to hit the ball rather than the typical “Three button press” that any of us golf gamers have grown used to. Basically, you tilt the stick back to get power, then push it forward quickly to hit the ball. Veering right or left even the slightest bit will cause the ball to hook or slice, and you have to be careful on where and how you push forward. If you haven’t tried it yet … it may sound like a pain. I would have agreed with you, but after I played with it a few times and got used to it, I found it to be much more accurate than the three button thing since you can almost perfectly match up the power that you want to have when hitting.


Another difference that was added in for Outlaw Golf was the usage of a “composure” meter. Basically, as you make good shots or sink birdies, you can gain composure and ultimately get “in the zone” which helps your shots on accuracy and such. On the opposite end, if you start messing up or playing badly, you get nervous or rattled and playing worse and the only way to relieve tension is to take it out on your caddy. That’s right … they aren’t just there to carry your golf bag for you. As you are playing, you earn “Beating Tokens” for low scoring holes or X amount of holes. Use a beating token, and the screen changes to a sliding bar where pressing the A button at just the right time while it zips into specific areas results in a funny and painful scene where your golfer grabs their caddy and beats the you know what out of them. It sounds cruel, but hey …we play to win, right?


There are two main modes to outlaw golf, which are Exhibition or Outlaw Tour. Exhibition is a single game setup which allows you and up to four buddies to play through a variety of game styles, such as stroke or match play and ranging to other not so common things like time attack or only being allowed to select a putter and one other type of club to play with. The tour mode consists of 30 different events spread out on 3 different courses, and is where you will unlock new items like equipment or players. Tour mode also contains the Outlaw range, which are mini games that allow you to polish up on your skills and earn some attribute points for your golfer to help him or her get a little better prior to hitting the course.


Now, the game overall is fun and pretty accurate from a physics standpoint, but there are a couple of things that not only didn’t make sense but also tend to make it more frustrating than enjoyable at times. For one, hitting a ball just a tad over the green or having it land on the edge of the fairway and the rough tends to drop your composure … and rapidly at that. For example, hitting a ball which lands on the green, rolls by about an inch away from the hole, then off the other side and onto the edge of the fringe will cause the composure meter to go from the top to “even”, although it wasn’t really a bad shot to begin with. Hitting in a water hazard? Understandable. Hitting in a sand trap? I can see that too. Hitting a centimeter off the fairway when it stops rolling? I really don’t see how that would make me nervous or be a bad thing, but that’s what happens.


The second issue I ran into is in the putting itself, which is where the majority of golf games are won or lost in my experience. By pressing the control pad left, you get a grid that measures the direction of the green and shows inclines or declines. Pressing the X button then pulls up the ball’s path and shows where it will go, so all seems OK and you are ready to putt. There is a little Power Meter in the lower right hand corner of the screen which tells you how hard the ball needs to be hit to get to the target zone that you selected (You move the target over the hole to get the %). When you pull the stick back, the power meter is broken down into four bars that represent 25, 50, 75, and 100% power. So, having to hit the ball 50% power is an easy line up … or so it would seem. Almost every time I putted at the listed percentage, regardless of composure or the golfer or accuracy rating, I came up really short. The main problem here is that hitting the ball too much harder messes up the trajectory, so a lot of potential birdies turned into pars or bogeys really quick.


Graphically, Outlaw Golf is a solid and good-looking title. The golfers and their animations are fluid and funny, and the courses themselves look great and contain a various assortment of overpasses, mesas, passing planes, birds, etc. to add to the atmosphere. As for sound, the wisecracking and insulting announcer is funny and causes a lot of laughs, while the character voiceovers are great … although a little repetitive after a few times. The crowd who is watching was done well also, and will laugh at you for messing up or run screaming if you act like you are going to hit the ball in their direction. The music, while somewhat forgettable, isn’t bad and consists or a metal / southern rock / hip hop mix.


Overall, Outlaw Golf is a funny and challenging golf game that is a good break from the usual “Hot Shots” or Tiger Woods title from EA Sports. Unfortunately, there are a couple of flaws that can quickly turn into more of an annoyance than it may be worth for some, and no more than three courses to play on. If you are looking for a golf title on your Gamecube, this may provide some good fun and silly comic violence … but I would recommend renting prior to making the final purchase.


Gameplay: 7.2
A decent and overall accurate golf title for the Gamecube which adds some comedy and a little bit of a different twist to what many refer to as a “gentlemen’s sport”. The controls are easy to get into after a few tries, but some weird calls on the composure meter and seemingly inaccurate putting distance recommendations can quickly get frustrating.

Graphics: 7.7
The environments were well done and look great, and the characters themselves are well animated and fluid on their movements. More courses would have added to the overall feel of the game however, and even with three different courses … it all kind of has the same feel to it after you play through a few times.


Sound: 7.5
The music, while somewhat forgettable, is good and doesn’t get overbearing at any time. The voiceovers are good, but tend to get a little repetitive after a few times of hearing the same thing. The announcer adds to the game as well with his wisecracks and insults towards you as you play.


Difficulty: Hard
It will take a few tries to get used to the control stick for many, and this is a game that you can probably never 100% master. The tutorial is a verbal walkthrough, which isn’t bad, but doesn’t let you practice either. It will also take some time to get used to some of the ball physics and speed of some of the greens as well, to avoid over or undershooting the mark.  


Concept: 7.7
The addition of some rough and hard hitting golfers to break the traditional golf games is a welcome addition to the genre. I would love to see a second one come out, hopefully addressing the issues found in this one.


Multiplayer: 7.9
Since humans aren’t perfect like AI can be, this is a fun way to go at it with up to four friends and see who is best on the Outlaw golf course.  


Overall: 7.3
Well, this turned out to be a fun game that I keep going back and playing constantly, despite some frustration and the fact that I walk away mad some of the time after playing it. If you are a big fan of golf or golf games this could be a good addition to the growing GC library … but either way I would hit your local rental store first.  


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