We’re fans of party games here at PN2. I’m also keen mini-golf players. But a game where you explode things with a simple swing of a golf ball? I’m listening, Dangerous Golf.
The premise is simple enough. You have a myriad of levels, each with their own specific goals, but it generally boils down to shooting a golf ball out to cause as much damage as possible, earning enough money before aiming for the hole. There’s no golf terms, no birdies or bogeys, it’s all about causing the maximum amount of destruction to earn yourself a bronze, silver, gold or platinum award.
There’s some minor strategy involved, you can’t just hit the ball and expect it to roll into the hole every time, though there were instances where no matter what I did, it always went in. Luck does play its role, but if you aim correctly you can bounce and redirect the ball for extra points before it reaches its desired destination. There’s some fun to be had in replaying certain levels and trying different things, though for the most part there will always be some kind of specific goal to reach to hit the high score. That can range from destroying certain objects, finding hidden ones or achieving trick shots.
The key to it all is the Smashbreaker. Destroy a certain amount of items on screen with your first swing, determined by the dollar value of each item, and you’ll unlock this powerful second ‘slow mo’ shot that explodes everything on impact. You can control its direction and bounce height, with the meter on the bottom left reminding you how much longer you’ve got left before it runs out. The trick to it is ensuring you pick up any remaining objectives before going somewhat towards the final hole, leaving you a nice little tap in. Miss, and your high score gets torn in half.
There’s four locations to play within, which doesn’t sound like much at first but there’s plenty of variety to be had. As you unlock more ‘holes’ you’ll discover more intricate objectives and harder to reach goals. One level has you trying to reach as high a score as possible in a small room filled with different flagged holes before the final hole eventually reveals itself. Another has you trying to smash as many champagne bottles as possible within a cellar. My personal favourite though, somewhat ironically, is set in an Australian outback petrol station. Let’s just say, lots of explosions makes Mark a happy boy.
I’m a sucker for a video game where the simple aim is to beat your high score. Frustrations aside, there’s an awesome sense of accomplishment when you finally figure out the best strategy and destroy everything you possibly can. Dangerous Golf’s better moments, though, are when they throw in unusual objectives into the fray. In the USA location, for example, one level tasked me with reaching a certain score first before the final hole reveals itself, hidden behind a currently locked pantry door.
There are a few minor annoyances within the rather enjoyable action. Load times are a little long in the tooth, though it’s understandable when there’s so many destructible items with highly detailed textures and particle effects pretty much everywhere. There’s also moments where the camera loses the location of the ball entirely, making it difficult to see what you’re aiming at or leaving you with a tense countdown as the ball slowly rolls to a dead stop.
It does feel like there could be a lot more to it. There’s a decent amount of different levels within each location, though there’s a lot of repeating or similar objectives early on. Outside of co-op (two players take turns to accomplish a combined high score) and party mode (8 player versus), there isn’t much else to the game. It helps that what’s here is enjoyable and challenging, but I feel as if there could be a lot more incorporated into it with time. I’d love a puzzle mode that makes better use of the hidden hole idea, having to specifically hit targets stretched out across a larger play field. Maybe with future DLC? One would expect Dangerous Golf to get the future expansion treatment, so who knows.
Dangerous Golf might also seem a little familiar to fans of a certain explosive racer. The team at Three Fields Entertainment comprises of a number of former Criterion Studios crew members. Yup, that’s right, that’s the guys and gals that made Burnout. Makes sense now, right? All that destruction, the smashbreaker meter, slow motion target breaking. It’s essentially Burnout: Golf Edition, and I’m okay with this.
You can play Dangerous Golf on Xbone, PS4 and PC via Steam right now. I’m enjoying my time with it so far so I’m happy to recommend it, if only because smashing stuff is always fun. Check it out and let us know what you think.
Mark Isaacson is a freelance journalist and editor of PN2.