IGN Review of Eagle Eye Golf
Golf games traditionally come down in one of two separate camps: the realistic simulation or the accessible arcade-like title. Sims like Tiger Woods recreate just about every aspect of the game, with actual players and courses from the PGA and LPGA tour. Arcade titles like Hot Shots, on the other hand, provide easy controls, strange and colorful characters and lots of wacky courses. But what happens when you have a golf game that's not as realistic as a sim game, but not as accessible or engaging as Hot Shots? Simple -- you have Eagle Eye Golf from Aksys Games.
Eagle Eye Golf takes a Tiger Woods-like Swing Stick approach to your shots instead of the timing based button presses from the Hot Shots series. Each club has an impact zone, which determines just how hard or easy it will be to accurately shoot effectively. Keep a shot within the zone, and you're pretty well guaranteed to get a shot to go where you want it to, complete with a Hot Shots-like motion blur on the ball and Nice Shot game statement; range outside of that zone, and you should expect to go searching through hazards or watch the ball go sailing out of bounds. You are given a visual icon to see whether you're cleanly contacting the ball or constantly shanking off to one side. Unfortunately, even the smoothest delivery with the analog stick can easily result in hacks off to the tee or the fairway. What's more, there's no way to adjust the sensitivity of the controller, so you'll just need to get used to chipping away until you become comfortable with the shot system.
Players will pull the right analog stick back to start building up a power meter that addresses the amount of distance on your shot. Pushing up on the analog stick makes contact with the ball, although you do have to make sure that you're shots are as straight up as possible -- minor deviations to the left or right can result in hooks or slices on the ball, sending the ball out of the impact zone as I mentioned earlier. You'll also be able to put a degree of backspin, topspin, fade or draw on the ball to adjust the trajectory of your shots, and while it may not be as extensive as other sim golf titles, you can place spin on the ball in one of eight directions. Typically, this is useful when you need to adjust for the wind in games, but in Eagle Eye Golf wind doesn't seem to be a significant factor. In fact, while you'll notice the indicator for wind, it doesn't appear to affect the ball at all.
Of course, some of these shots will be radically affected by the kind of player that you happen to take on a course. Some players happen to naturally shoot the ball straight, while others have more of a draw or fade to their shots. The same can be said about the trajectory of their shots, which can be low, medium or high. As you continue to use a character, you'll be able to increase their specific stats, such as how accurate they are with certain shots or how much control they have. You'll also be able to level up and strengthen some of the items that you've selected in the clubhouse to take on the greens.
There are five separate single player game modes available, although not all of them are what you'd expect from a golf game. For one thing, the Training mode doesn't actually teach you how to play Eagle Eye Golf. Instead, it lets you practice on a course, which isn't necessarily welcoming for golf novices. Like most other golf games, the Stroke mode lets you play rounds on any one of the seven golf courses available in the game. You'll need to unlock most of these courses through playing other modes, like the Tournament mode, where the overall goal is to try to achieve a grand slam. Initially, you'll be ranked against amateur competition in minor tournaments. However, as you continue along in the Tournament mode, you'll slowly go up against rival golfers on courses that will challenge you to bring your best game to the links.
Sometimes, your skill on the green will get you through tournaments. However, other times you'll need the best equipment to succeed against your opponents. Eagle Eye Golf allows you to outfit your golfer in one of two ways: winning tournaments and entering Mission Mode, which is made up of 100 separate tasks, such as landing shots within a specific distance near the pin or keeping a number of balls on the fairway at a certain power swing level. After you complete 10 goals on a level, you receive an item that you can use for any golfer. It's an interesting concept, but blandly executed, especially since many of the goals are quite repetitive and sometimes poorly presented.
Finally, Eagle Eye Golf has one of the strangest modes ever seen within any golf game ever made. Survival mode pits you against other golfers from the game to see just how many you can beat with your golf skill, with an item put up as a reward. Strangely, the character select screen features your golfer facing off against an opponent on a generic background pierced by lightning. This gives you the sense that you're literally going to beat the hell out of the other golfer with a club, but instead, you're taken to a random course for a single hole elimination match. That's right -- single hole. No Skins match or playing a reduced round of golf to see if you can take down other players. You screw up once and you're forced to start all over again. This really could've been better handled, and you'll probably only try it for one or two times before you move on.
Once you've finished with the single player experience, you may jump into the multiplayer modes with computer controlled bots or up to three other friends. There are six separate game modes that you can play, such as the standard Stroke or Match play modes. Players can also take engage in a Skins Match, although you'll get points instead of cash for winning a hole. Apart from that, there's Best Ball mode, where players form teams and see which team gets the better score, and 2BALL4SOME, where players on a team alternate shots to see which team can get the best score. The biggest difference with 2BALL is that you won't consistently hit your own ball; depending on who comes up in the rotation, you may wind up helping or hurting your team out with your shot placement. Finally, there's a Sudden Death Mode, where players with the worst score after every round get eliminated. Depending on how inaccurate players and the computer are, a Sudden Death match can be over after one hole.
Apart from the gameplay features, Eagle Eye Golf features two separate create features. The first is a create a golfer mode, but it is extremely limited: Only medium or "chubby" built Caucasian, Black or Asian golfers can be created, and other options, such as voices, are shallower still. At least the course editor is much better. In fact, the course editor is probably the best feature of the game, as you can easily create up to two courses, tailor making the fairways, hazards and grounds. This included adding slopes or grades to a specific hole, smoothing out or raising mounds and setting the specific par scenarios for a course. You're also able to test a hole out at any time just to make sure that the hole plays just the way you want it to. Eagle Eye even allows for unrealistic courses: you can place hazards on every single inch of the green or even cover an entire hole in asphalt. While the ball won't actually act as it would on asphalt, the visual look of the hole will be completely unique for your course.
You're not going to be blown away by the visuals of Eagle Eye Golf by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, it looks like the character models of Hot Shots Golf grew up slightly and joined a less whimsical country club. The layout of the fairways of some courses fairways that are designed to look like large phalluses, which is a stretch even for an arcade game. But apart from the suggestive holes on courses, the visuals sport generic trees, obstacles and water hazards. What's more, you'll almost feel like you're playing a solo round regardless of the game mode you're playing in: there's no gallery with bystanders, no visual hint that anyone else is on the green, and no caddy or other players around on a course. As a result, playing Eagle Eye can be a bit isolating, with the exception of the random comments that are thrown out as you take your time to address the ball. The game can be impatient, and admonish you for taking your time. It would be better if the voice acting was good, but it and the recycled music is atrocious, and you'll quickly turn off the volume five minutes after you start playing.
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