HB Studios’ The Golf Club 2019 continues the series’ domination of the video game golf genre. With no competition for several years now, it would have been easy for complacency to result in a minor upgrade to this year’s entry. Fortunately HB Studios are not content to rest on their laurels, and the Golf Club 2019 makes great strides in solving the issues from previous titles in the series, and even improves upon its already impressive features. The result is easily the best we’ve seen from the series.
The Golf Club 2019 draws back the hardcore simulation a bit. You swing the club with the analogue stick and rely on skills, control and a little luck when it comes to hitting the ball straight, with no other options for the controls beyond which analogue stick you use, but this time around there are trajectory lines and the UI does give away a little more about the surface you’re hitting from and the affect it’ll have on your hit distance. It makes it more accessible yet doesn’t compromise the authenticity of the simulation to any great degree. And when it comes to putting, the simulation is in full swing, with very little to go on to help you nail those puts. As such it’s still hugely gratifying to master but not so off-putting to newcomers. It strikes an excellent balance.
Despite the these changes, The Golf Club 2019 still very much captures the spirit and skill of the real thing; you need to read the fairways, take note of the wind, understand your club choice and appreciate the physics of the ball to really succeed. It’s great stuff, difficult but still great. And this year’s commentator is absolutely spectacular at providing a mix of excitement at your successes, disappointment at your failures, and sarcasm at your tragedies.
Once again, sliders and cosmetic options allow you to create your own custom character, with in-game currency earned from playing being used to buy more elaborate clothing. This currency can also be spent on building your society, essentially a club, with member’s fees and club tournaments adding a nice social option to the game. Meanwhile, the pre-made and custom made tournaments return with a wide selection of fictional courses, and crucially, the option to play through the PGA Tour. Indeed, The Golf Club 2019 secured the PGA Tour license and features a terrific career of real and fictional tournaments to enjoy. There’s even a selection of real courses, several of which haven’t been available before elsewhere. And thanks to the community creating their own, with an even more advanced version of the already stellar course editor, there’s a huge amount of content that you can enjoy.
The visuals continue to impress when it comes to the environment, although the player models are a little soulless. Meanwhile, the crucial physics of the ball are excellent, with the wind adding enough unpredictability to keep matches interesting. You can rarely guarantee a victory, or even a loss. Things can go wrong for you and the AI at the drop of a hat. And indeed that’s how it should be, and it certainly makes each hit feel more exciting and critical to your success.
Another new addition to The Golf Club 2019 is the simultaneous online multiplayer feature. No more random ghosts to compete against, you can now host private sessions against your friends. Meanwhile local play is still available, which is always a greatly appreciated feature that is far less common now days.
Indeed, The Golf Club 2019 is a brilliant golfing game with a staggeringly huge variety of courses, made practically unlimited thanks to community created content, the crucial licensing to increase it authenticity, and all the online and local multiplayer features one could ever desire. Some real life golfers may add to the authenticity a bit in the future, but otherwise my wish list for the perfect golf games is thoroughly covered for here.
Thanks to Xbox and HB Studios for supporting Thumbstix