Dangerous Golf Review (PlayStation 4)
Destruction is fun. A few years ago, we were remodeling the upstairs bathroom and I spent a few hours with a sledgehammer busting wall tiles and tearing a ceiling down. It was cathartic and wonderful. Games do a good job of replicating this same sense of satisfaction whether it’s launching a rocket launcher at a pile of cop cars in Grand Theft Auto or deconstructing every piece of a building in Red Faction: Guerrilla. Destruction is a fun time. Dangerous Golf should be, but it isn’t.
At least not all of it. It’s a simple enough concept; hit a golf ball into a varying array of breakable objects to rack up a giant score. That’s it. When it works, which isn’t very often, it’s thrilling. It’s an enjoyable experience when you’re able to line up a shot that knocks over a row of pedestals... that topple over busts... and you activate the Smashbreaker (a sort of manually driven score multiplier) to drive the ball around to break even more things. Unfortunately, those moments come few and far between.
Dangerous Golf kicks off with a rocking song --- the only song you’ll hear in the entire game --- where a raucous group yells the title and a guitar shreds. From there you’re taken to a barebones menu with one single-player option and three multiplayer options. Don’t let that fool you; the multiplayer options are just various ways to play the same levels from the single-player but online or co-op. And many levels there are!
Touting 100 different holes across four different settings --- kitchen, castle, palace, and gas station --- you’re guided through 10 different Cups that never do anything to really set themselves apart from one another. Every course is just “Hit ball into things until ball stops, use Smashbreaker to control ball some more.” The tee off is fine enough, you just push the left stick up to launch the ball. Eventually you’ll unlock other ways to tee off including pistol tee, which lets you aim up and down, and a soft hit. The Smashbreaker is almost unforgivable in its control. The game instructs you to push the circle button and steer with the left stick, but steering feels more like wrestling both the camera and the ball. Neither do what you want them to do and it feels unpredictable.
Beyond that, you have a few more options. Pressing L2 while in the air makes the ball drop but. Pressing L1 puts you into Danger Time that let’s you slow down time for better control. At least I think that’s what it does as the game gives you no other instructions beyond a controller splash screen. For such a simple concept, the game sure tries to keep you from actually learning how to play it. Controlling the camera is a baffling affair because they camera does not rotate on the y-axis while the entire rest of the game exists in a three-dimensional space. The camera also does not follow the ball when you hit it, so you’re left to wonder where the ball went until you activate Smashbreaker.
On top of not telling you exactly how to play, the course instructions also fail in clearly disclosing what you need to do at the beginning of a level. Yes, this being a golf game your ultimate goal is to sink the ball into the hole, but there are a few qualifications before that. Some of these levels have multiple holes, some are timed, some even require you to hit a certain score --- not revealed to you --- before the hole is shown.
Some of these levels are putting challenges and they are the most boring. The game presents you with roughly 30 different holes and completely removes the destruction aspect. The timed levels are also not fun, replacing boredom with stress. The timing is atrocious because the camera speed is slow, controlling the ball is slow, the framerate is slow, everything is so very slow. Occasionally, you’re given a timed putting challenge and those are unforgivable. You start with 30 seconds on the clock, and every time you sink a putt, time is added to the clock. If you miss a hole, the ball goes sailing off and takes at least eight seconds to reset. It’s the crown on top of this pile of disappointment.
The entire package of Dangerous Golf feels unfinished. Looking past the cool concept, nothing is exciting. The slow camera, the inconsistent controls, and bland mission structure combined with the fact that the game crashed numerous times during my playtime, led to much more frustration than there was enjoyment. The first few holes may have been fun, but Dangerous Golf quickly tumbles into a downward spiral of disappointment.
This review was completed with a purchased download of Dangerous Golf for the PlayStation 4.