Par Out Golf Review

Fun Fore All the Family

Let’s be honest, for many Golf isn’t an appealing sport. While it is competitive and very interesting, the mental endurance required to follow a game isn’t something the average sports-fan possesses. Thankfully then, titles such as Par Out Golf (out now, $1.99) allow us to us enjoy the finer points of a game of golf without the need for superhuman patience. Or hideous plaid trousers.

Par Out Golf is quite simply the most realistic, family-friendly golf board game you’ll ever play…with your eyes closed!”

The above quote was taken from Par Out’s official website and refers to the original board game that this iOS iteration is based on. Now, the concept of that game might sound simplistic, but it’s actually a lot of fun when played with friends or family. Just to quickly sum up it up: there is a spiral-bound notepad full of laminated leaflets which each depict a birds-eye view of a golf course. On each course there are various hazards (rocks, trees, sand traps, ponds, etc) drawn out with numerical values attached to each hazard. These numbers indicate the number of penalty strokes added if you cross them. Using a marker and your picture-perfect memory, the objective of the game is to take turns drawing a path from the tee to the eventual destination (the hole). Sound simple? Yes, but remember, you’ve got to do so with your eyes closed!

As you shut your eyes and draw your way down to the green and finally into the cup, you count your number of shots and add up all of the hazardous areas you crossed. Your opponent will then do the same and, in typical golfing fashion, the player with the least number of strokes used over the course, gains bragging rights over the proverbial Green Jacket. When the course has been conquered, a damp washcloth takes care of the unwanted ink.

Let’s move on to the digital version of the game, which I’ve been enjoying on the iPad. Par Out Golf greets you with a colorful and vibrant main menu; McCaddy, the game’s main character, introduces himself to you on the first course and quickly takes you through the basics.

The mechanics remain the same: you’re treated to a birds-eye view of the entire course and are asked to keep your finger on the golf ball until it’s “time to draw.” Within seconds, the playing field becomes overcast with clouds – a creative means of hiding the playing field and a substitute for closing your eyes (and looking a bit silly in public) while handling your iDevice. Keeping your finger on the screen, you now draw a line to where you want to tee off, keeping hazards and obstacles in mind, which need to be circumvented. Once the line is drawn, the clouds disappear and the ball follows your guided (or misguided) trajectory. This continues until you eventually get closer to the hold and draw a line into the cup in order to complete the course.

Soon after, you are introduced to the concept of wind, which for obvious reasons didn’t really exist in the classic version. This virtual wind is depicted with a directional arrow and a number indicating its strength. Your drawing path needs to take the wind’s properties into consideration so the ball does not fly astray and off-course. Par Out Golf includes over 70 holes of fun, each featuring unique obstacles to navigate around. Taking advantage of digital convenience, a ‘zoom mode’ is cleverly available by clicking on various clubs offered along the right side of the screen – this zooms your view in or out to let you fine-tune your path. There is a Par value set for each course, and your total score is added up and displayed the end of the game.

Since I have more experience playing casual forms of Golf  games (Hot Shots Golf, Super Stickman Golf and Candystand’s Mini-Golf Online) as opposed to the more serious, Tiger Woods-type games, I had an enjoyable time with Par Out Golf – but only when I played the game the way it was meant to be played: with my eyes closed. For me, the clouds obscuring the screen mechanic did not work as an effective substitute for closing your eyes, simply because you can still make spatial judgements and draw the ball’s flight path with relative accuracy. A spot of dust here or a fingerprint there surprisingly acts as an unintentional crutch for helping your aim. When I tried to close my eyes and draw lines however, the gloves came off and the truth was revealed; my accuracy took a big hit and so did my scores. Though this is a small change, it has a big impact on the game and I strongly feel the developers should consider putting this idea into their App for those who are not familiar with the rules of the original board game. That said, a short video has been created explaining the board game’s rules on Youtube which may help new players appreciate the game before diving into it, as was the case for me.

Par Out Golf features offline multiplayer for up to 4 players, which involves taking turns to conquer various courses with the lowest overall score. In addition, you can also choose to match up with an opponent world-wide through Game Center’s multiplayer feature. While this is a welcome addition, it’s very easy for someone who isn’t sitting in front of you to cheat (if he or she is desperate enough to do so) by simply marking a spot where the hole is and guiding their finger accordingly. The local multiplayer however works effectively and does what it’s supposed to without any hassles.

The game’s menus and in-game visuals are crisp, clean, uncluttered and to the point – things aren’t overdone, and nothing looks out of place. It’s exactly what you’d expect from a game like this. One factor that did irk me was how “dead” the golf ball looked while it was following its trajectory, as if a paper cut-out was being dragged across the screen. Perhaps an attractive 3D ball with a rolling animation could be added in a coming update? Another optional feature I feel would add depth to the game would be a “realism mode”. When translating the game from the original board game, the drawn line must obviously lead straight inside the hole. The problem is, while dealing with this in a digital version, the ball stops or at the least, slides a little without any personality. In addition to the 3D ball suggested above, a bouncing animation when the ball hits the ground would be a nice touch.

iFanzine Verdict: Par Out Golf is a fun, casual game. A lot of effort was clearly put into converting the board game to this digital version and, for the most part, it pays off. This is a great party game for people for all ages, young and old, to enjoy. You don’t have to know the rules of golf to enjoy Par Out Golf; just allow five minutes of your time to read over the rules and watch the aforementioned Youtube tuturial to understand the game a little better.

[xrr rating=4/5]