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Eagle Eye Golf PlayStation 2

Published by 505 GameStreet
Developed by Telenet
Release Date: Out Now
Price: £29.99

Eagle Eye Golf, an introduction.

Not long after the GameCube launched here in the UK we were lucky enough to receive a copy of Ace Golf for review. We were really impressed with the game and gave it a deserved 9/10. It featured the best analogue swing we've seen in a console game, the putting was spot on and the difficulty was just right with the more difficult AI players putting up a real challenge. Disappointingly the game sold very poorly here in the UK and in no time at all it landed in bargain buckets everywhere. In fact only a few months after its release the game was only £10 (brand new) in my local game stores and even then there seemed to be few takers. Why? Well the game didn't use real life golfers. The game had a Nintendo style bright colour scheme and the golfers were of the bobble head variety, which meant that to the casual glance it looked like a kids game. How wrong people were.

What's the game about?

Eagle Eye Golf has been developed by the same people that created Ace Golf and if you are one of the few who bought Ace Golf you'll recognise many similarities. However, there are also some new additions. The single-player modes are Tournament, Stroke, Mission, Survival and Training. The multiplayer modes, which are for 1-4, players are Stroke, Match Play, Skin Match, Best Ball, 2 Ball 4 Some and Sudden Death. The big difference between Eagle Eye Golf and Ace Golf is that you can create your own players and take them through a career. The game also sports a custom course creator and you can have two custom courses at any one time.

What's good about the game?

If you are after a quality golf game and couldn't give a fig about having real life golfers then Eagle Eye Golf is highly recommended. You can choose to create your own golfer or pick one of the pre-made characters (the game has 13 golfers in all but only two are initially available). Each golfer has power, control, impact, recovery, spin-shot, fade/draw and equipment point attributes. Most of these attributes are self-explanatory except for equipment points. In Eagle Eye Golf there are many different types of equipment that your golfer can use. Each piece of equipment (balls, clubs etc.) uses up equipment points and your golfer can only equip items for which his/her equipment point allocation allows for. Some of these items can level up. Performing good shots with a set of clubs will level them up and make them more effective. The items that can level up won't do so infinitely. They all have a limit to how much they will increase in performance. Your golfers can also level up. Achieving birdies and eagles will earn you stars on your scorecard (in Tournament and Stroke modes). At the end of the round these stars convert to bonus points that you can use to increase your attributes. This puts a huge emphasis on getting as many birdies and eagles as you can, if you want your golfer to become the best. Whether you pick a stock golfer or create your own, you'll spend most of your time with the game in the Tournament mode. In Tournament mode you'll take parts in various competitions that are categorised into different ranks. You'll begin with amateur tournaments but the idea is to progress to the top and win all four major tournaments to complete the Grand Slam. To add further spice to the Tournament mode, you'll acquire rivals during you career and you can keep track of their progress at any time.

The game comes with 7 fictitious courses. Whilst they are fictitious, most of these course are challenging and they will take time to master. What I like about these courses is that they encourage positional play rather than simply encouraging you to whack the ball as hard as you can whenever possible. You can even try your hand at creating your own courses with the course creator. The course creator is easy to use and allows you to create your own designs with a minimum of fuss. You can even use these custom courses in tournaments if you wish.

Of course the most important thing of all is the control method. The game uses the same right analogue stick swing method that Ace Golf did and it's still as good as anything out there. From the tee to the hole, it's difficult to fault the control. The Tiger Woods series still hasn't got the hang of having an effective putting system but Eagle Eye Golf has it (if you'll pardon the expression) down to a tee.

What's not so good about the game?

There's no two ways about it, the absence of real life golfers and licenses is going to put a lot of people off. Whilst this isn't necessarily a bad thing it's a shame that some will dismiss the game without even wanting to give it a try. A more realistic complaint is to do with the removal of the caddies. In Ace Golf you had a caddy who could give you assistance in reading the green. These caddies had different abilities and you could unlock additional ones as you played through the game's tournament mode. For some reason there are no caddies at all in Eagle Eye Golf and I for one am slightly disappointed with this. Eagle Eye Golf has no online play which, again is disappointing. Having invested time in levelling up your custom golfer it would have been great to have taken them online and played against other gamers' custom golfers. Sadly though this isn't an option. I would have liked a greater amount of character customisation options. Whilst it's nice to be able to create your own characters, it's disappointing that you don't have much flexibility when creating them.

How does it look?

Eagle Eye Golf is similar in appearance to Ace Golf, at least in regards to the courses. The golfers no longer have a bobble head appearance, although some of them still look rather bizarre. The presentation of the game feels a little basic. In fact it feels a little lacklustre when compared to Ace Golf, never mind the yearly offerings from EA, which is disappointing when the asking price is almost £30. There are no frame rate problems and the load times are pretty snappy, which is good to see.

How deaf gamer friendly is the game?

There are no problems for deaf gamers with Eagle Eye Golf. All of the important information is shown either in text or with the use of gauges, icons etc. You are notified in text when the items you're using have levelled up. There are some snippets of speech that aren't subtitled. During a round you begin to be heckled somewhat if you take your time over a shot and these comments aren't subtitled. Your golfer makes the odd remark here and there and subtitles for this are shown at the top of the screen. There are a few problems with the subtitles themselves. The colour of the text for the subtitles is white and it tends to be difficult to see against an ever changing background. The subtitles are frequently different to what's actually being said, which is annoying although to be perfectly fair these are repetitive, throw away comments that are of no importance.

Final thoughts.

Eagle Eye Golf is another quality golf game from Telenet. Essentially the core experience is the same as Ace Golf but the ability to create your own golfers and level them up adds more depth to the game. It's a shame there's no online play and that caddies have been removed although it's obvious the developers have attempted to remove the 'kiddie' image that Ace Golf conveyed away from the game and the caddies were probably sacrificed for this reason. It's also good to have included a fully functional course creator here and I'm sure that the creative gamers out there will come up with some great courses. It's a shame the presentation standards have dropped a little since Ace Golf though but  they are still acceptable. If you can pull yourself away from the licensed to the hilt Tiger Woods series, you'll find a golf game that genuinely has a challenging AI (once you're passed the early stages of the Tournament mode) and is a whole lot of fun to play. Sure you'll have to work far harder at the game than you ever have in the Tiger Woods series (the putting in particular has a lot more realism to it) but once you are comfortable with the game you'll overlook its shortcomings and lack of PGA logos and official players and appreciate it for the enjoyable golf game it is.

Overall Game Rating: 8.0/10

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It may lack official golfers and courses and the quality of the presentation may not be as slick as some golf games out there but Eagle Eye Golf has the quality where it counts. The analogue swing mechanic is the best seen in any PlayStation 2 golf game and from the tee to the green it feels just right.