I’m not a golfer..but I play one on TV. Something like that but the point is finally we have some viable golf action for the iPhone in the form of GL Golf from Nuclear Nova Software. It’s not a sim but rather a casual golf action game that makes it easy to hit the links from your armchair. The core gameplay is the same in all versions so the difference is you get 4 courses and ads with Lite, 6 courses with standard (reviewed here) and a whopping 23 courses with deluxe, booya. There’s a detailed array of options to customize your game, allowing you to select how many players (up to 4 for hot-seat), front/back 9 or all 18 holes, difficulty level, time of day, ball color and season. I found it too much of an eyestrain to play in anything but daytime but challenge-seekers might appreciate the dusk and dawn settings. The game is rendered in full 3D and the GL stands for OpenGL in case anyone was wondering. There’s no music but you can play your own and the sound fx are sparse but what’s there is realistic and effective. By divine grace the developer opted for a simple touch interface so you don’t have to swing your phone around like a loon. Incoming calls are handled gracefully as the game saves automatically.
Once the game proper begins, you get a flyby of the hole to get your bearings then with a tap of the screen it’s go time. The first thing you’ll probably notice is there’s no onscreen avatar representing the player, just a disembodied club floating in space. To your left you have your basic stats and info plus shot options (you can also redeem 1 Mulligan per game) which are back spin, draw/fade (hook/slice by any other name) and loft/punch (basically high/low). You can view 3 perspective shots of the hole for further strategizing (4 including the flyby) and check an instant replay of your last shot. There’s also buttons to save your game and view the leaderboard. The right side of the screen is a bird’s eye view overlay of the entire hole including landmarks. The center is the 3D display and your window to the course. Swipe horizontal to aim, vertical to switch clubs then tap the swing button to build up power and again to swing. So simple you don’t need instructions; gotta like that (there are instructions though just in case). Once you’re on the green you can putt (actually you can use the putter anytime if you want to be silly). Once the putter is selected, gridlines appear indicating break to help you aim.
All good so far but I do have some gripes. First, I’d like to see an onscreen avatar, the disembodied club thing is just a little weird. Nothing fancy needed just a basic onscreen guy/gal, decently animated. Second, the game is screaming for a freecam mode with zoom and scroll. Basically the game needs the flyby mode to be interactive. Third, the graphics just aren’t so good, basically ranging from serviceable to downright pixelicious. Unfortunately this goes beyond just griping about eye candy as landmarks in the game, such as the flagstick and putting grid, can get lost in the lo-res soup. I mean retro is cool on the iPhone but I don’t want to be zapped all the way back to Intellivision. Ok INTV was 2D but you get the point. Also the bird’s eye overlay is really tiny so maybe that could be enlarged just a little…or enlarged a lot and give us the option to toggle it off to see more real estate. In fact, extend that thought to the left-side menu as well since technically you don’t need it that often; I’d like to see an option to make the entire screen be the 3D course display.
All said, this is a really damn good golf game for the iPhone and if you’re on the fence about it, check the lite version…and be sure to replace all your divots you duffer.
Version reviewed – 1.04
Global scoreboard – yes
iTunes music supported – yes
Lite version available – yes, deluxe too