Golf is one of the few sports that I would rather play a videogame of, than actually play the sport. FIFA is a great sports game but I would much rather have a kick-about with my mates. The same could be said of tennis, cricket, basketball, American football, and pretty much all sports. Golf never really appealed to me in real life as I’m not a big fan of walking (it’s far too slow, I’d much rather run or cycle). Golf games though, I quite enjoy. I remember playing the early Tiger Woods games, and even Microsoft’s attempt at the genre – Links 2004, and loving the gameplay, visuals, and style of the games. 2014’s The Golf Club offered a more simulation-style approach to the sport but struggled graphically and structurally. I never got to play that game, but jumped at the chance to play this sequel, so how has this new game panned out?
Unfortunately, The Golf Club 2 is not a satisfying experience. First of all, let’s talk about the gameplay. Like the first game, this is very much a hardcore simulator. There is no margin for error in your swing. The swing-meter has a red-zone to try and keep your movements within, but even if you keep it in the designated area, the ball can move significantly to the left or right depending on the path you track. For instance, if your downswing ends up at about 12:45 (assuming a clockface) the ball will veer off to the right, far enough that you will no longer be on the fairway. The putting is just as unforgiving even though the red target area is larger. This is particularly harsh as putting is where you need to be more precise than ever. There is also no guide for how hard to hit the ball when putting; it is purely down to experience and judgement.
The much-praised course creation is back with more variants than ever before. The course creation tools are quite extensive and you can easily choose how deep you want to go into the customisation of holes. If you want, you can create a course by just choosing the theme and some basic settings like how wide the fairways should be, how big the bunkers and water traps are, and the size of the greens. If you want more control though you can go through each hole and change nearly every feature of the course. While the ability to do all this is welcome, the controls and tools are behind numerous menus and they are not at all user-friendly. I’m sure that if you know what you are doing, it’s possible to create some fantastic courses, however, it is not at all intuitive and very difficult to use.
As well as there being a barrage of menus and sub-menus, the game has many technical issues and problems. I came across regular screen-tearing, several noticeable frame-rate drops (including during the swing mechanic which completely throws your rhythm off), and significant input delay when accessing the numerous menus. The commentary is very repetitive and is often inaccurate with the ball not landing where the commentator has said. Even the ambient sounds appear to be the same audio samples played over and over again. The ball also continues to roll in the sand and deep rough far more than it should. The career mode feels like a hurriedly cobbled together option that allows you to play whatever courses you like, whenever you like. The curation of the career is entirely up to the player and can feel a little intimidating to start with.
I really wanted to like The Golf Club 2. Unfortunately, the many technical issues, numerous menus, unforgiving swing mechanics, and lack of a clear career path meant that I barely got any enjoyment from the game. I understand that this is not a full-price title, but neither is Powerstar Golf and that game is far superior to The Golf Club 2. There is a place in gaming for a really hardcore simulator-style golf game, but the glaring issues in The Golf Club 2 mean this is not it.