Reviewed: December 16, 2004
Released: October 19, 2004
Tired of Tiger? Lousy at Links? Sick of those cute characters in Mario and Hot Shots? Well Outlaw Golf 2 is back for another round of insane golf and along with it comes that wacky bunch of misfits from the first game along with a few new faces including a few crossover characters from a certain volleyball game.
Hypnotix has kept everything you loved about the original and then added 8 courses (some new, some redesigned from the first game), a new 18-hold miniature golf course, golf cart racing challenges, 15 skill tests to earn attribute points to increase the skill of your golfer, and all new online play for four-player matches and tournament play.
While there is an excellent golf game lurking beneath the surface of Outlaw Golf, the creative character designs are what really sell this title. All of the characters feature their own unique personality and backstory along with several costumes and their own special caddy. Anyone can make a golf game these days, but it takes a creative genius, or a team of them, to gather together a biker chick, rapper, stripper, dominatrix, ex-con, and all sorts of other "outlaw golfers" and put them in the same game.
Outlaw Golf 2 is first and foremost a great golf game that would hold its own even without its cast of misfits. It features an excellent physics model that replicates real-world physics and reproduces the game of golf to near perfection.
Outlaw Golf uses the same realistic approach to swinging a club that they used in their last game, a method that is quickly becoming the norm for console golf games. You push the left stick down and up essentially creating your back swing and follow-through. The power of your stroke is determined during the back swing by a power meter and the follow-through determines how straight you hit the ball. Any deviation to the left or right will result in a hook or slice.
There are several visual aids to make the game significantly easier. You have a trajectory arc that will show you approximately where the ball will land if you hit it at the current power setting with the selected club. This arc will change from yellow to red if your path is blocked by a tree or other obstacle. You also have the traditional grid overlay for the green that shows the break in the terrain. One of the nicest visual aids is the “putting preview”. This allows you to display the current line your putt will take based on your current target and power setting. You get three peeks per hole so use them wisely.
Perhaps one of the most ingenious aspects of Outlaw Golf 2 is the “Composure Meter”. Anyone who has played real golf knows just how frustrating the game can be and how your anger will often affect your game. In this case you have a meter that starts off in the middle and will decrease with each bad shot and increase with excellent shots, birdies, etc. Your composure actually affects the accuracy and distance of your shots, so you will always want to keep this on the positive side of the bar if possible.
Your caddies can help you maintain your composure by serving as targets for your aggression. At any given time, provided you have a “Beating Token”, you can proceed to beat the hell out of your caddy. The better the beating the more composure you gain and a perfect thrashing will result in a full meter that will put you “In the Zone”. These beating take the form of a bar with a sliding icon that moves from right to left. You must press the A button whenever the square passes into a randomly determined zone on the bar. It’s all about reflexes and the more consecutive hits you get the longer the beating and the more composure you regain. You start each game with one Beating Token and can earn others by getting Birdies, Eagles, etc.
The beating are much more cinematic this time around. In the case of Summer, her multi-part beating consists of a quick pole dance followed by the deft removal of her thong that she shoots at Autumn (her caddy) like a rubber band hitting her in the face. If you can keep the beating going she will slam Autumn into a chair and grind her with a sexy lap dance while planting a big kiss on her, followed by knocking her over on her back and smacking her repeatedly in the face with her…umm...ample assets. If that isn’t enough for an Mature rating just wait until you play Mistress Suki, the dominatrix and start abusing your chunky man toy.
While most of your success on the links is based on your skill with the controller along with your knowledge of club selection, the characters can assist you by earning bonus equipment like special drivers, putters, irons, and balls that will increase your accuracy and distance. These items all supplement your character's stats that you build-up through the mini-games.
There is even a bit of challenge in how you approach the mini-games. Some challenges like the driving and chipping games cannot be completed with standard equipment. You will have to revisit these challenges after you have earned better clubs and balls. This keeps you from maximizing your player’s attributes all at once and devastating the competition.
There are all sorts of game options including many multi-player modes for skins, stroke, and match play. The tour mode is the main single-player offering that takes each character on nearly a dozen games on each course. These range from major tournaments against the entire cast to one-on-one challenges to unlock a particular character or special item.
And now with Xbox Live support you can take your game online in massive structured tournaments or online foursomes for skins, match, or stroke play. This is what everyone complained about in the first game, the fact that there wasn’t any Live play. Well now you’ve got it and it is great. The best thing is that everyone can play golf simultaneously. No need to worry about who has “honors” here. It’s a big free-for-all and you’ll get to see the other golfers’ trajectory lines while you play. It’s the same system used in Links 2004.
My only real complaint with the game is while playing alone in matches with computer-controlled golfers. These matches are painfully long and often “rigged”, or at least they seemed that way. As for the length, you are able to skip past a computer golfer’s shot once they have struck the ball, but up until that point you have to watch a 5-10 second animation. It doesn’t sound like much but in matches with three other golfers this is a good 20-30 seconds between shots. I much prefer the larger tournaments where all non-human players are simply simulated and their scores displayed on the leaderboard.
As for that “rigged” remark, there are several events in the game that are unduly difficult, even early in the game. Computer golfers will be making impossible shots forcing you to play birdie (or better) golf. I also noticed if the computer starts to pull ahead too far it will start screwing up on insanely easy shots. Watching Killer Miller take three strokes to sink a putt from six-feet away is just ridiculous when he just chipped in a 170yd eagle on the last hole.
Outlaw Golf was one of the best-looking console golf games of its time, but not much as been changed or improved on the sequel. It might be the very same engine for all I know which would put this in the expansion pack category more than a sequel. Even so, you will marvel at the wonderful colors, sparkling lakes, clear blue skies, and all sorts of random course-side objects. We now have snow courses and even a nighttime event that is lit by torches.
There are some wonderful special effects like a mini-fireworks display after a birdie or eagle, and when you hit a good shot the ball will glow white or yellow and leave a comet trail behind it. There are all sorts of excellent camera angles and replay modes to choose from, and you have full freedom of camera movement before each shot to explore the hole or check out the various golfers from perverted camera angles.
New to this game is the Ghost camera. This works much like the putting preview but you only get one per hole so use it wisely. When activated you will see where the ball would travel and land if you were to hit it perfectly with your current club selection. It’s a great way to see if you can clear a water hazard or skim under a branch. Some might claim this makes the game too easy but nobody is forcing you to use it.
Of course the character designs are what really shine in this game whether you are playing the sexy stripper, Summer, in her ripped jeans and skin-tight t-shirt with sassy caddy, Autumn, in her spunky cheerleading outfit, or the devilish Mistress Suki, in her black leather and her whipping boy/caddy, Puddin’. Sexy women are only half of the cast. You have El Suave who fancies himself as the Casanova of the golf course, ex-con Killer Miller, and Ice Trey, the wannabe rapper from Beverly Hills.
If you think these characters sound crazy you should see them in action. Each character has a library of reaction animations based on whether they are glad, mad, or sad. Summer will writhe around on the ground or do a stripper-spin around the flagpole after a good shot while Mistress Suki will pummel her caddy into submission when she shags one into the water hazard.
The only problem with all of these cute animations is that while they are fun to watch once, twice, or even three times, they are often too lengthy and too frequent and you will eventually start skipping them. A classic example is beating up your caddy. It’s fun the first time you see a complete beating, but once you’ve seen it all the way through you’d just as soon not see it again unless you have friends watching you play.
The music in Outlaw Golf 2 is okay but with any game that you are going to play this often and this long it’s going to get old. Thankfully you can insert your own custom soundtracks into the mix and liven things up. As always, I did enjoy the opening montage that featured a pumping track and clips from all of the golfers in action.
Sound effects are pretty standard with clubs swinging and balls splashing in water or dropping into the cup. There are some nice subtle effects like birds, wind, and even the flag flapping in the breeze.
Once again, the characters steal the show. Each character has a respectable library of one-liners and quips they will deliver throughout the game. My only complaint is that by the time you have taken any one character through about a third of the tour you will have heard everything they have to say. The caddy beatings are especially repetitious.
Another great feature is that each hole is introduced by each of the cast members. This is often more fun than informative, as many of these players don’t have the slightest idea on how to play these holes. They will start to explain tactics for the course then branch off on some unrelated topic.
And golf just wouldn’t be complete without play-by-play commentary. Steve Carell, who provided the hilarious commentary for the previous Outlaw Golf as well as Outlaw Volleyball is out and Dave Attel is taking his place. I love Dave, at least on his show, “Up All Night”, but for this game he phones in a rather bland performance. There are a few moments of comedic brilliance, but I had heard his entire repertoire long before the first tour was over and ended up turning off the commentary entirely. I was amazed at how much turning off his comments sped up the gameplay.
My only complaint with the sound is that there just isn’t enough of it to go around. Outlaw Golf is just so darn good and you will play it so often and for so long that you will exhaust all of the dialog and music in the first few days. Pretty soon you will find yourself skipping the player intros, the hole descriptions, the post-shot reaction animations, and anything else just so you can take your next shot and get the game moving.
By design you are encouraged to play all the way through with one character at a time since certain events and characters can only be unlocked by playing certain characters. This means you will be playing the game nearly a dozen times if you want to unlock every last course, item, and character in the game.
As you progress through the tour you will unlock new equipment like special clubs and balls, as well as new golfers that you can then take through their own tour. Most of the golfers and the training events are locked when you first start the game, so the more you unlock in tour mode the more will be accessible when you want to play the multi-player games.
It’s a very clever system where some skill tests can only be completed with special clubs or higher skill stats. Of course, as you unlock new skill tests you want to revisit your previous characters and have them participate in these new events to boost their stats further.
You can finish a standard tournament in 4-6 hours if you skip the gratuitous animations and commentary, or what I like to refer to as “speed golf”. Or you can double that estimate if you like all the superfluous presentation material. Multiply that by the entire cast of characters and you have a 50-100 hour game depending on your dedication and endurance, and that doesn’t even take into account completing all of the skills tests, miniature golf, and online gameplay.
The only real outlaw in this game is the person who pays only $19 for what is easily $50 worth of content, but hey, if Global Star wants to “give away” a great game, you shouldn’t feel guilty about taking advantage of their generousity. It’s a shame that they didn’t have more faith in this product to at least charge $30 or $40. Releasing a game at a $20 price point is the curse of death these days, as the consumer generally associates low price with low quality. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Outlaw Golf 2 isn’t the best golf game you can play on the Xbox; Links 2004 still hold that honor, but this is certainly the most “fun” you can have with a golf game. It’s fun and realistic with a wonderful cast of wild, crazy, and often naughty characters. This game brings more to the table with more characters, more courses, and more game modes, not to mention the much-anticipated online play.
I’d recommend this game at $30 or even $40, but at $20 I’d practically buy a copy (I said “practically”) for everyone just so I would have more people to crush online. Go grab your copy today (you might have to dig through the bargain bin), practice for awhile, complete a few tours, then head online where I’ll be happy to school you in the subtleties of Outlaw Golf 2. Prepare to feel the wrath of my thong. Snap!