May 28, 2014
Xbox One’s cartoonish-styled golf simulator “Powerstar Golf” is now a free-to-play title. Developed by Zoë Mode and published by Microsoft Studios, “Powerstar Golf” has dropped its $19.99 price tag and is free to download from the Xbox Game Stores, with separate extra courses that are available for purchase. Giving an alternative to Tiger Wood’s realistic models and locations, the arcade-style approach of “Powerstar Golf” gives players a laid-back but entertaining title.
The game employs a three-click system that has the player line up his or her shot, press the A button, hit the A button again to set the power of the swing, then press it again to control the aim of the swing. Timing is crucial with the power gauge, as any small margin of error could send your ball way off in the rough. Putting is a bit trickier, as it will take time for gamers to read the slopes of the green well. I didn’t mind putting in the extra work of replaying some holes to get better, though, because “Powerstar Golf” actually is pretty entertaining to play. The courses are saturated with rich colors and complimented by a jazzy soundtrack that goes well with the title.
The in-game characters (which have to be unlocked) are zany, but their personalities are humorous to me. Not only do they have their own personality, but, depending on which of the six golfers you choose, they all come with a unique ability, like rocket-powered swings or magnetized balls that swerve toward the pin. To keep these abilities from being overused, their availability is limited. Then there are the microtransaction pieces of the game in which players can use real-life currency to buy booster packs that include new clubs, balls and other temporary advantages. Fortunately, players can unlock these items simply by playing, just at a much slower pace than purchasing them instantly, of course. Another nice touch is that data for every putt, drive, swing and chip-in is stored in “Powerstar Golf,” which the game compares to your friends’ data. This gives the game a competitive feature that is not too invasive but keeps you in competition with friends, even when you aren’t actively playing against them.
The game is very easy to pick up and learn. However, the timing of the power bar is very unforgiving and may take some time to master. Also, as mentioned, the slopes of the green on some holes are pretty tricky to master. As with all free-to-play models, some gamers with deeper pockets may have an obvious advantage.
“Powerstar Golf” does a great job of bringing a light but challenging version of a golf simulator to the Xbox One. As your skills grow the more you play it, the more you will appreciate the hours spent mastering a hole. Players even can have some friendly competition between their gamer friends, regardless of whether they are online. “Powerstar Golf” truly captures the triumph and grief found in the game of golf.