Last week’s I reviewed Tiger Woods PGA Tour Golf 12, one of the most iconic and accurate representations of the game of golf available today. But this week, we make the journey from one extreme to the other, by taking a look at Ayopa Games LLC’s new iPhone and iPad App Death Golf.
As the name suggests, this isn’t an app that is meant to be taken very seriously – it is very much tongue-in-cheek humour and is a mixture of golf game, combined with a top down platform/puzzle game.
Indeed, if Tiger Woods PGA was about representing golf as accurately as possible, then Death Golf is probably as far removed from that as possible.
The premise of the game is very simple, you take on the role of a golfer (Fletcher – below) who plays on a series of three surreal courses (which as in true app tradition, you unlock one after the other as you complete each hole). The emphasis in the game is not on the technical aspects of golf; there’s no consulting yardages and taking the wind into account here, you simply use your one club to hit the ball towards the hole.
The aim, as in real golf, is to achieve this in as few strokes as possible – only on each hole there are a number of obstacles, bunkers, rough, water hazards and various creatures (your enemies) that are out to make that task as difficult for you as possible. Unlike other golf games, your score is not recorded through the number of shots you take, but instead you earn points through each shot, and you can score extra points by completing certain tasks with each shot (for example, by hitting the ball so that it hits and destroys one of your enemies).
The points earned can then be traded in in the in-game shop for a number of different power-ups and items which allow you to refine Fletcher as you would like, allowing him to hit the ball further or harder, or to change his clothing from his traditional plus fours and tam ‘o shanter cap, to something a little more refined and dapper.
Currently, the game has four different courses and over 35 holes to work your way through and your scores are collated on a leaderboard which allows you to track your progress against other Death Golf players.
It is hard to understate the influence that the various incarnations of Angry Birds have had upon the development of apps for iPhone and iPad and players of Rovio’s finest will clearly recognise its influence in the gameplay of Death Golf, down from the level system used, the point scoring system and even the jaunty music on the app all seems derivative.
To be fair to the developer, the gameplay is simple and initially, fun. The courses are imaginative and unlike many golf games, there is as much focus on you running between shots (and dealing with any enemies that stray across your path) as there is in actually taking the shot too.
The power-up combos and point system is a little confusing at first; it can be hard to ascertain why one shot earns you more points than another, but over time you do get used to it.
Those gamers looking for a ‘realistic’ portrayal of golf, will be disappointed. Death Golf, as the name implies, is not supposed to be this. It is a combination of a platform puzzler and top down adventure but set in a golfing context. In that respect, the game is innovative and packed with ideas and challenges.
- Novel approach to ‘golf’
- At $0.99 it is relatively cheap
- Global leaderboard is a good idea and keeps people interested in improving their score.
- Addition of enemies allows a dual focus – blasting them with your ball and clubs, as well as trying to shoot the lowest possible score on each hole.
- Many holes are very similar and repetitive.
- Not enough courses to make the game have long term appeal.
- Could easily upset the sensibilities of more ‘genteel’ golfers who don’t find splatting angry ducks with a golf club or golf ball amusing.
Death Golf is what it is; a game using the sport of golf as a very general theme. It is not the most hi-tec golf app available, it won’t help you track your stats, measure distances to holes or help you improve your game. However, if you are stuck on a crowded train on the way home from work, then it is as good a way as any to while away half an hour or so.
Without the addition of expansion packs and greater variety in hole design however, I feel this app only has limited long term possibilities, hence our rating.
Overall Score: 6.5/10