When Endless Wave Software decided to make their new Par Out Golf game for iOS devices, they took their inspiration from an unlikely source (at least for a golf game)…an award-winning golf-themed board game. Yeah, I had no idea that such games existed either. The result is a rather fun golfing experience, perfectly suited for the iOS platform.
Instead of a multi-tap power meter, or finger swiping, Par Out Golf utilizes a path drawing control scheme. Using your finger you draw the path of your ball from your current lie to the hole. There is a bit of strategy involved, as you must take the wind’s speed and direction into consideration since its effect will be greater the further the distance of your shot. The tricky part is that you can’t actually see the course while your are drawing your trajectory line and the game brings new meaning to “visualizing the cup”. A huge group of clouds moves in every time you are about to swing (some Weatherman is gonna get fired over this) blocking your view and you must draw your line blindly from memory. It is a great game mechanic that really adds to the fun and difficulty-level of the game.
While Par Out Golf’s gameplay mechanic is certainly not unique, we’ve seen similar style gameplay in titles like Doodle Golf and Invisible Links, but it ts definitely the most flushed out and polished golf title I’ve seen using this control scheme. Before making a shot you can switch clubs, which effectively zooms the screen in or out depending on the club you select and thus restricts the overall distance that you can shoot. This adds a whole new level of strategy to the game, since when you zoom in, it gives you more space to draw around any obstacles which could add strokes to your score if hit, so you’ll need to decide when it’s most advantageous to zoom in and lay up.
My first instinct was to always try and power play my way to the hole with a long driver shot every time, but I soon saw the merits of the club selection mechanic and the finesse shots that could be achieved. That being said, there were times where the zoom didn’t leave me enough space on the side,so I was forced to club up. Once zoomed in, players cannot scroll or move the screen, the view you get is what you have to work with. The developers made a conscious decision to use this method of zoom instead of the traditional pinch to zoom, “since that would allow the user to zoom to any level they desire and could easily position the flag to specific spot on the screen, such as the corner, making the game too easy”. I like the simplicity of this implementation, but there are times where your zoomed in choices are too restricted and unusable, forcing you to play with the driver.
There are a total of two really nicely illustrated 18-hole courses and their separate front and back nine-hole equivalents. The sound engineer did an amazing job with the ambient sound effects which, when played with headphones, really makes you feel like you are out on the links. To start off you only have access to the front 9 at Pen Hurst (love the puns), with the rest being unlocked via the game’s badge system. Four unlocakble badges can be earned on each hole, which are awarded based on your score. You get one for simply completing the hole and others are given for obtaining par, birdie, or better. Your total badge count is used to unlock additional courses. To make sure this doesn’t occur too quickly, when you score a birdie, you are NOT also given the badge for par as well, meaning you must play each hole at least 3 times if you want to earn all of the badges. The good news is that you earn your badges whether you are playing single player or online multiplayer.
Ah multiplayer mode, this is where some real fun can be had. Online you can go head to head with another player via Game Center, or you can play locally with up to four players on the same device via pass and play. Unlike Super Stickman Golf’s arcade-style free-for-all, Endless Wave Software took a more traditional approach with a random 3 or 5 hole match-up in real-time. Players take turns with the person furthest from the pin taking their stroke(s) first. All of my online matches ran smoothly and it was a lot of fun playing against my Game Center rivals (I mean friends). I did find it rather difficult to get a match going with a random opponent, but hopefully this will improve as more people purchase the game. There are Game Center leaderboards for each of the courses as well as the total number of badges earned. Unfortunately there is no leaderboard for total online match wins.
Par Out Golf is a superbly fun game, that while simple to learn (who doesn’t know how to draw a line) still offers players a challenging and different golfing experience. It’s a shining addition to iOS’ current selection of golf games and is definitely worthy of your attention. A great single player experience, coupled with entertainingly competitive multiplayer gameplay on both your iPhone and iPad for just $1.99…what a bargain! Feel free to send me a challenge (OTGGamer).