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Powerstar Golf Review

Having originally been planned for digital release on the Xbox 360, publishers Microsoft liked what they saw coming from Brighton based developers Zoe Mode and made the decision to bring Powerstar Golf to the Xbox One instead, and what a great move this will probably prove to be.

Although it’s not as aesthetically pleasing as the other release day offerings, Powerstar Golf has its own charm with bright colours, imaginative scenery and cartoon style characters that provide a unique visual experience. If you’re expecting a realistic Tiger Woods style experience then you’re going to be disappointed, but if you’ve been a fan of, or even played and enjoyed, other arcade style golf games such as Everybody’s Golf or Mario Golf then this may be one for you.

Powerstar Golf utilises the three click method of stroke play; once to start the bar, once to set the power and then once more for the shot timing. Having been tried and tested in other golf games it’s a control scheme that will feel familiar to players of other series’, however this time around it’s a bit more stubborn than others. It’s not easy to time it well to perform a full power shot or to get a perfect connection on the shot timing, often sending your shot short of the distance or swinging off-course slightly. To be honest though, I like that. I like the fact that it’s actually a bit more difficult, it feels kind of fresh for an arcade golf game. I don’t want to keep comparing it but it’s hard not to as they are very similar, but Everybody’s Golf has always felt a bit too easy; too easy to time the shots, too easy to beat the AI and too easy to win tournaments. On the other hand, Powerstar Golf actually challenges you. 

As already mentioned the shots are harder to time, but on top of that, the courses are less forgiving as are the AI and the tournaments. Don’t expect to be able to dominate every round or challenge that you play, but providing you play well then you will succeed and the more hours you put into it, the more consistent your play becomes. The only real frustration comes in the putting and your time on the green. Never have I wanted to act out a scene from Happy Gilmore and tell the ball to go to it’s home until I had played my first few hours of this game. The greens and putting physics are very unforgiving and probably take the longest to get use to, even now I still struggle to read the greens correctly and rim the hole or finish an inch or two short, even on short putts, more often than I’d probably like to. The benefit of the higher difficulty is higher rewards for the more challenging elements, and it is incredibly satisfying when you pull off a great shot or complete a challenge that has been troubling you. None of this though, retracts from the fun and enjoyment that it provides throughout.

Everything you’d expect from a golf game is included; the ability to apply spin on the ball, different shot selections such as draws, fades and pitches, club choice, undulating greens and courses, variable wind conditions, etc, etc. The big addition from Powerstar Golf is power-ups for your chosen golfer and caddie. Each of the six available golfers (it will take a while to unlock them all) have a power-up that is unique to them, whether it be a magnetic attraction that surrounds the pin, a more powerful shot or the ability for the ball to split into five balls mid-air and then choose the one closest to the hole. All of them are hugely overpowered but they can only be used a limited number of times through each round, so there is a perfect balance between your standard golf and the arcadey experience you’d expect from a game like this.

The game also offers an RPG-like experience as you progress through the career mode. You gain XP and in-game credits from completing rounds and challenges, as well as impromptu ‘Powerstar Challenges’ that appear mid-round, with your level of play determining how many of each you gain. The in-game credits can be spent on card packs similar to EA’s Ultimate Team packs; instead these card packs contain new clubs, boosters for your golfer/caddie (these only last one round), permanent upgrades such as having the ability to skip your ball across a water hazard, new balls and others. Each of the clubs and ball upgrades provide different advantages and disadvantages, with some of the rarer ones being clubs that are designed specifically for certain golfers and can only be used by them. Powerstar Golf does a fantastic job of making it seem like you’re golfers are getting better as you progress through the game, even though their base stats don’t change and are only improved by the new clubs and equipment that are unlocked.

There are only four courses available to the players, which is a bit disappointing. I would have liked to have seen more courses included so as to diverse the amount of times that you play through the same courses during the career mode, although in saying that, the career mode is designed well enough to prevent this repetition. Each challenge that must be completed is different from the last, so whether it’s playing the front nine holes, just the par 3’s or par 4’s, playing stroke or match play against an opponent over a set number of holes, Zoe Mode have done well to keep it fresh and keep you interested. The courses that are included are a great mix of realistic and crazy, whether it is a monorail track that runs through the middle of the course or a volcano that erupts and fills certain areas with molten hot lava, there’s just enough to keep these picturesque courses on the fence. I wouldn’t be surprised if there is DLC in the future that includes golfers, courses and more career mode challenges.

Multiplayer is kind of there, but kind of not. Local multiplayer is present and is great when you’ve got a couple of friends around taking turns to make your shots, but online multiplayer is MIA and I really feel that Zoe Mode have seriously missed out on a great feature here. As you play through rounds and challenges, little markers will pop up on the course showing your friends’ longest drive, closest to the pin shot, or longest putt, amongst others, depending on the situation, as well as a further pin showing the global world record for the same thing. This is the closest you get to any sort of online multiplayer. It would have been great to have the option of playing a stroke or match play round against one, or even a group of my friends, similar to the experience you get from local multiplayer.

Powerstar Golf has done a great job of providing a fun, visually impressive but still satisfyingly challenging game that bridges the gap between realistic and fantasy. At just £15.99 from the Xbox store, it deserves and provides for every single penny in that price point and is a steal for the number of hours and replayability that it offers.

Words by James Grantham.

(Version Tested: Xbox One)


+ Solid gameplay
+ Great, unique visuals 
+ Challenging but still fun and satisfying when mastered


- No online multiplayer
- Putting is difficult and frustrating

Edited On 25 Nov, 2013

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