Golf With Your Friends is one of those games that’s been around for many years on PC, and has belatedly now found its release on Xbox, PS4 and the Nintendo Switch and is developed by Blacklight Interactive and published by Team-17. As a console player I’ve been excitedly waiting for it, as many years ago a golf game brought me out of my video game wilderness. Back in 2005, I faced a three month period at home recovering from an operation, and Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2005 on the original Xbox was the game that hooked me and returned me back into the world of gaming. Needless to say I have a soft-spot for Golf games! However, Golf With Your Friends is a little different from the EA Sports game series. To start with you can forget the long sweeping fairways and the myriad of clubs to choose from. Yes, we are in Crazy Golf territory here, and it’s about as crazy as things get. And forget the etiquette of the real game, as here it’s as much about disrupting your opponent as it is putting your ball for the lowest score.
As a single player game there’s not too much to offer apart from a way to practise and learn the course layouts ready for multiplayer, which is where the majority of the action will be. The multiplayer allows up to twelve people to all play at the same time. In classic mode all players take their shots together and it’s a standard crazy golf game. There are plenty of different courses to select, from a classic forest level, the Mario inspired Haunted level which is reminiscent of Bowsers castle, and the somewhat Sea of Thieves inspired Pirate Cove, with its sea monsters and far too many water hazards. Golf With Your Friends has some wickedly difficult holes, requiring lots of skill and luck to complete under par. Luckily there is a free cam available to check out the lay of the land before you take the first shot, but like most things here, this freecam is on a timer, preventing players from taking too long and, of course stopping any online trolls from taking way too much time and ruining the game for everyone.
However, playing in the basic classic mode is just scratching the surface. Delving into the game options is where the real fun starts. There are some additional game types available which will turn your game of golf into more of a basketball or hockey experience, and there is also the party mode, which adds in ball spin and makes the grass more bouncy. The customisation options include the real game changing option – ball collision! All of a sudden those enemy balls become more of a threat than the level hazards, as players can start to play dirty and mess up your plans. Power ups can also be turned on, which can then enable your opponents to turn your ball into a square, or a triangle, or a cone, which lasts until after you take your next shot. There are helpful power ups, like the instant freeze that when activated will stop your ball dead in a block of ice. When collision and power-ups are turned on, it turns Golf With Your Friends into a great must-play party game.
Its not all good as there are some very annoying glitches and bugs, especially when your ball goes out of bounds and doesn’t reset properly, meaning you having to take a penalty of the hole maximum score, which could be anywhere up to 19 shots, which is tough to overcome for your final score. I also encountered a similar bug which prevented me from taking a shot, which resulted in the same penalty. Golf With Your Friends is also a game that will infuriate you right to the point of rage quitting as some shots sometime feel absolutely impossible to pull off, until you get that lucky bounce or finally realise where the hole is!
The course design is what really makes this a great game. The spaceship level has black holes that you have to slingshot around. The Worms level has bombs and jet packs. The Candyland level has moving conveyer belts. There will be times where you will find yourself lost and bewildered just trying to find the hole. One level saw me back at the start on a number of occasions because I just couldn’t find where to go, whilst my friends had all finished and were watching my camera with great amusement.
So, Golf With Your Friends is a brilliant party game to be played with friends. Not one for the easily frustrated gamer, and not very satisfying to be played solo. The fun more than makes up for the sometimes dodgy ball physics and sometimes annoying camera. The addition of a hole preview camera at the start of each hole would be incredible, as most of my frustrations were caused by not knowing where to go. And it’s available on Xbox Game Pass as well! The main draw of the PC version is user-created courses, so it will be interesting to see what happens with the future of the console version.