Thursday, August 4, 2016

Dangerous Golf Review (XONE)

At first glance Dangerous Golf seems like an extremely shallow experience where explosions and destruction are the only appeal, but there actually is a decent game hidden beneath all the rubble.  It turns out that Dangerous Golf isn’t just “Michael Bay Plays Golf”, but rather a surprisingly smart and well-crafted puzzle game with destruction as a highlight.  The thrill is somewhat fleeting, though, and once you get numb to the chaos the game can rapidly start to lose its luster.  See all of the details here in our full Dangerous Golf review.

Game Details

  • Publisher: Three Fields Entertainment
  • Developer: Three Fields Entertainment
  • ESRB Rating: “E” for Everyone
  • Genre: Puzzle
  • Pros: Nice visuals; great destruction; satisfying; lots of content
  • Cons: Kind of dumb, honestly; blowing stuff up gets old
  • MSRP: $20
Originally released on June 3, 2016, Dangerous Golf was met with a fairly tepid reaction and mediocre reviews as it had a fair number of issues such as extremely long load times, poor difficulty balance, and general performance problems.  A patch has since been released that fixes many of those issues as well as added a tutorial video and changed some of the gameplay mechanics to make it easier to play.  We are reviewing the game after that patch with all of the fixes in place.

Dangerous Golf is a golf game (sort of) where you play in small enclosed spaces full of valuable stuff and try to break as much of it as you can before moving on to the next room.  Each round consists of a “drive” where you just take aim and send the ball flying into the room, a “Smashbreaker” where your ball catches on fire and you can steer it as it bounces around, and a putt where you have one opportunity to sink it into the hole.  Putts are sort of interesting because they can be very straightforward – as long as there isn’t anything in the way you’ll get it in every time, but you earn more points by making bank shots and ricochets. 

Dangerous Golf isn’t simply about randomly hitting the ball and hoping for the best, though, as each room is more like a puzzle where you have to take the right path through it to earn the highest possible score.  Some objects are worth more points.  Other objects might topple over and cause more damage to the items around them.  And there are various bonuses like paint buckets and other things scattered around sometimes that increase your score when they make a mess.  By knowing where all of the key items are, how to use them properly, and how to cause the most damage in the most efficient way possible, your scores will be much higher.  There is a deceptive amount of strategy and skill involved in Dangerous Golf if you want to play it well.

There is also a surprisingly large amount of content in Dangerous Golf.  There are a bunch of different levels including fancy dining rooms, restaurant kitchens, gas stations, and more with multiple layouts and variations of each, adding up to 100 different holes to play through and set high scores.  There is quite a bit of variety, too, as the holes get more complicated and difficult, but you also unlock new abilities like teleporters.  You can play in single-player as well as a single controller local multiplayer where you take turns to compete for high scores.  

For as varied as the holes can be and as strategic as the gameplay is once you start digging into it, however, Dangerous Golf still has a glaring problem and that is the fact the core concept itself simply doesn’t really have legs.  It is definitely fun and funny for a while and it isn’t nearly as shallow as we’d feared when it was first announced, but destruction for destruction’s sake can only last so long before the thrill is gone. 

One area you can’t really complain about is the fantastic presentation in Dangerous Golf.  It looks gorgeous thanks to Unreal Engine 4 with great lighting and special effects and a ton of detail just about everywhere you look.  The punk rock soundtrack and overall attitude also works well with the action onscreen and serves as a nice sort of “F-you!” to the normal snobby golf establishment. 

Coming from former devs of the Burnout racing series, Dangerous Golf’s brand of calculated mayhem shouldn’t come as much of a surprise.  But unlike Burnout, which was also a fantastic racing game on its own merits, Dangerous Golf doesn’t have enough substance to keep you hooked once the destruction wears thin.  It plays just fine after the patch, and the puzzle-focused method to the gameplay madness is actually pretty well executed, but once you become numb to the spectacle of it all it is hard to stay motivated to keep playing.  Wait for a sale.
Disclosure: A review code was provided by the publisher.