It maybe a love it or hate it kind of sport but golf has always had an enduring popularity, especially when it comes to videogames. Virtual reality (VR), even in these early days, is no exception, with titles such as Cloudlands VR‘s Minigolf, VR Disc Golf and 100ft Robot Golf available. Appearing last summer from Kakao Games was VR Golf Online, supporting the Oculus Rift. Now the title has made its way to HTC Vive with some motion controller support, bringing with it fun and frustrations in equal measure.
Aside from some of the quirky titles just mentioned golf games tend fall into one of two camps, ultra realistic – official courses, players, etc – or arcade, with developers taking the base sport then adding their own courses and feel, VR Golf Online falls into this latter category. There’s an impressive 36 holes to play through, split between two courses Gemini and Taurus. These can then be selected in lots of three, or whilst playing continued through to finish the entire course.
So jumping into a game you’ll find a couple of options, either play a few rounds by yourself or select to face off against an AI opponent. While single-player should keep you busy for awhile, and the AI can prove to be challenging, the lack of a solid multiplayer is some what disappointing for a sports title. Nevertheless the two modes available should provide all the golf you’ll need before certain issues begin to arise that start to detract from the experience.
In the main menu you’re given a couple of brief details on the gameplay mechanics before you head out to play your first hole. It’s all simple stuff with only a couple of buttons needed – most of the time you’re just swinging the controller. So you’re there, about to tee off, VR Golf Online automatically chooses the right club for the shot – you can quickly and easily select another from the golf bag behind you – then it’s time to smash the ball down the fairway. Naturally in a golf videogame using motion controllers there’s no power meter, its all done via your swing, which VR Golf Online does remarkably well at reproducing, with a satisfying whack.
There’s just one problem, your aim is controlled with a large green arch, indicating where the ball will likely land should you hit it with enough power. Adjusting this arch can be incredibly temperamental, at times you might find yourself spending ages just trying to move it. Fine adjustments are definitely out of the question. It also raises another issue, no matter what your swing is like it’ll always go in that direction, there’s no slicing the ball with VR Golf Online. So great for a novice just lacking in depth for more acclimatized players.
Whilst that works in favour of beginners, get to the green and it’s a whole different story. If you’ve ever played a golf game with someone really inexperienced you’ll know that the green can be a nightmare, with the ball flying past the hole again and again, racking up massive plus scores. There’s none of that in VR Golf Online. Don’t make par and you’ll quickly find the title conceding for you, generally not letting players get past double bogey (+2). If you’ve found yourself in a bunker or the rough, increasing the amount of shots to the green, there’s a good chance that once the ball hits that smooth green lawn you’ll get booted.
For the most part VR Golf Online sits in in the middle ground between a lighthearted mini golf videogame and one that’s far more serious like The Golf Club VR. It has its fun moments but some of the glaring problems soon make it annoying, and it really needs multiplayer.