Enjoy golf, you silly American! - Review By Fragmaster
Golf is an odd little sport. Like bowling, it's played by a diverse group of individuals. Everybody from Tiger Woods to little kiddies at Putt-Putt to 80-year old Thomas A. Oldguy plays it. And like bowling, the clothes you have to wear while playing golf make you look like a dork. Hello, checkered pants!
Despite golf's general weirdness, the game has translated pretty well to the videogame medium. There's a ton of golf games out there, ranging from Links LS on the PC to Mario Golf.
Tee-Off, the first golf game on the Dreamcast, features fifteen different characters competing in six different modes of play. The goal? To become the best golfer in the entire world!
Tee-Off's graphics are very anime-inspired and the character design is highly stylized. This isn't necessarily a bad thing; the game just looks very different than say… NFL Blitz. The overall look of the game is very clean and cartoon-like, which is very different from the attempted photo-realism of a game like Links LS. The camera system is surprisingly flexible. You can select different views with the Y-Button and/or zoom in and out with the triggers. The course design is a bit bland, but it's solid overall.
Tee-Off is a pretty good golf game, but it won't knock your socks off.
While the art direction of the game is kind of unusual for a golf game, the control system is not. Tee-Off uses the same standard gauge most golf games use: press once to start the gauge, press again to control the power, and press again to control the accuracy. To control where you aim, you use the analog stick. You can also make "cautious shots," which are more accurate shots that travel a shorter distance. Pretty simple, once you get the timing of the gauge down. Tee-Off is really easy to play and the customizable difficulty levels make this something any gamer can have fun with.
There are three gameplay modes, World Tour, Free Round, and Gate Ball. Gate Ball is pretty damn freaky, but more on that later. World Tour is the single player mode, where you need to compete for the highest total points on five different courses, unlocking new clubs, balls, and characters along the way. Free Round is split into Point Tourney (points are given at each hole, highest score wins), Stroke Play (whoever completes the course with the least amount of strokes wins), and Match Play, which is further split into single, foursome, threesome, four ball, best ball 1 vs. 1 and best ball 1 vs. 3. Most of these can be played with up to three other suckers.
Putting: It's pretty boring no matter what you do to it.
To add some variety to the mix, you can choose between different models of clubs and types of balls. And in addition, each of the fifteen different golfers has a unique playing style and set of skills.
Some people may be turned off by the super-cute anime style. Or turned on, if you're into that sort of thing.
Now, that Gate Ball thing is just plain weird.. it's like Tron croquet. You put balls through gates (like croquet), but you do it in this really futuristic, neon-drenched landscape. Why this was thrown in is beyond me. It's kinda lame and you probably will only play it once or twice, but extras, even if they're dumb, are always nice.
The interface is nice looking and easy to use. All the pertinent information you'd need, like wind speed, par for the course, distance to the flag, club information, and lie conditions, are organized nicely on the in-game screen without getting in the way or interfering with your view.
The load times are a little too long, and the game plays really slow overall. Yeah, a round of golf shouldn't be over in five minutes, but there should be ways to speed up the pace a bit. I don't really need to see a long montage of my golfer hitting the same shot from three different angles, thank you.
Wow, croquet sure is different in Japan. Bring on the laser guns!
The audio isn't very good. The music is awful, repetitive, generic, and generally annoying. Most of the sound effects are weak. The voice acting isn't too bad, but the dialogue gets repetitive quick.
Some people may not like Tee-Off's anime stylings, but they really don't detract from the gameplay so that's a non-issue. However, I did find the introductory movie somewhat disturbing, and not all of the game is translated to English (or is translated poorly). It's also kind of funny how the character's mouths keep moving for a long time after finishing their lines. Sloppy.
The Final Word
Since this'll probably be the only DC golf game for a while, you might as well pick this up if you're aching for something to putt around with. Otherwise, this is a title that you should rent or borrow for a few days. There's nothing particularly wrong with Tee-Off, it's just doesn't have that extra "oomph." Tee-Off is competent and nicely produced, but the gameplay is generic and there isn't much (besides the graphics) that differentiates it from the multitude of other golf games available out there for other systems. In golf lingo, Tee-Off is par for the course. Oh well, you could do worse. And remember: a flute without holes, is not a flute. A donut without a hole, is a danish.
Developer: Bottoms Up
Highs: Good control, clean graphics, lots of gameplay modes.
Lows: Slow, doesn't offer anything new.
Other: 1-4 players, VMU Compatible, Jump Pack Compatible.
(out of a possible 10)
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