Buckle up, folks, because today I'm reviewing another free-to-play game! And like most iOS games that use the free-to-play model, Com2uS' Golf Star has in-app purchases. So, if you've been keeping up with my iOS reviews, you know right off the bat that I've probably already deducted points from this score based on this fact alone. But let's tee off, get the review (and the obligatory golf puns), started, and see what Golf Star has to offer! Does this game sink a hole-in-one with us? Or is it just a sand trap for your money?
As far as iOS golf games go, Golf Star really isn't a bad one. It uses the same, tried-and-true gameplay style that most golf titles use, in which you power up your shots with a meter, mess around with distance via clubs and shot types, and gauge the elevation when trying to putt. It doesn't innovate anything when it comes to golf, but instead lets you work a polished set of the basic mechanics. In fact, it can even be a fun distraction,putting you in a zen-like mood while you play.
It is a shame, then, that the whole experience is marred by a system designed to siphon money from your wallet in order to play undisturbed. The game uses three different resources: Hearts, GP, and Stars. Hearts are what allow you to actually play the game, since each game of golf you play requires you to expend a different amount.
Once your Hearts are down to zero, you can't play anymore. This means that you can burn through all of your Hearts after just a few short games, lasting about fifteen minutes or so each, depending on how judicious you are with your shots. And that's it! You'll have to wait until your Hearts regenerate or buy some more from the in-game store. I'd honestly rather spend some money up front to get a complete game that I can play at my own leisure rather than download a free game that limits my golfing experience.
The GPs and Stars are used buy items and gear in the store. You can get clothing, golf clubs, and tees that give you different stats, as well as some items you can use while golfing that have different effects on your performance. These types of in-app purchases don't warrant much hate from me since you can build up the necessary GP and Stars just by playing the game, although it would take a long time for some of the more premium items. But the catch here is that you'll need Hearts to play, so unless you're buying them, it will take forever to save up for the high-end items in the shop.
Some other things that put a damper on what could otherwise be a very fun, wholly recommendable golf game is the fact that the constant pop-ups in the menu screens never quit. They take every opportunity they can to remind you that you can buy virtual currency in their shops and that you can play a lot better by buying their starter packs! It's an endless assault to grab your cash and it makes playing the game mind-numbingly frustrating.
If it didn't have the pushy pop-ups and the reliance on in-app purchases in order to have a complete gaming experience, Golf Star might have received a 7.5 at best. The actual golfing portions of the game are serviceable and even sometimes very fun (though missing a birdie always elicits vulgarities to spew from my mouth), but it's held back by a thinly-veiled attempt to cash in on the success of the free-to-play model and just leaves a bad taste in my mouth. It may be a free game, but it's still not worth the price.