Eagle Eye Golf is a lot like Hot Shots Golf, but not nearly as good.
- Has a lot in common with Hot Shots Golf
- You can make your own courses.
- The stuff that it doesn't "borrow" from Hot Shots isn't all that good
- Some of the worst audio you'll ever hear
- Looks like a first-generation PlayStation 2 game
- Takes forever to unlock new golfers.
If imitation truly is the most sincere form of flattery, then the folks who work for Hot Shots Golf developer Clap Hanz must be blushing nonstop with all of the flattery coming from Eagle Eye Golf, a budget-priced game that's absolutely shameless in how it apes the popular PlayStation golf series. The golfers look similar, the presentation is similar, the courses are similar...even the font used on the front of the box is nearly identical to Hot Shots Golf. Seeing as they have so much in common, it would be reasonable to assume that Eagle Eye Golf is just as entertaining as Hot Shots Golf, but that's not quite the case. The areas in which Eagle Eye deviates from the Hot Shots formula are some of the game's weakest points, and while it can be a fun game if you can look past these problems, the simple fact is that there are many other golf games that are better than this one.
Eagle Eye Golf has a variety of single- and multiplayer game modes. Single-player options include tournament, stroke, mission, survival, and training. You might think that training is where you go to learn the basics, but it isn't; here you just play a basic practice round. The closest thing the game has to a tutorial is mission mode, which is a series of short challenges where you'll have to learn how to shoot fades and draws, as well as how to read greens and judge the wind. You'll also be a master of creative shot-making by the time you're halfway through since you'll routinely find trees and other obstacles placed between you and your target. Mission mode can be entertaining, but it runs out of steam about halfway through, thanks to a lack of variety--you'll be doing the same sorts of things over and over again. In survival mode, you simply take on a series of golfers and try to win as many matches in a row as you can. Whoever wins the first hole, wins the match. If you lose, it's game over. You're supposed to be able to unlock items in survival mode if you win enough matches, but we won nine in a row and never unlocked a thing. Eagle Eye's multiplayer lets up to four people play on a single PlayStation 2 using one controller. All of the modes found here are pretty standard. There's stroke and match play of course, as well as skins, best ball, and sudden death. Because of its odd name, 2ball4some may sound somewhat unique, but it's just team-based alternate-shot stroke play. There's no online support to speak of.
Tournament play is more like a career mode since you'll be taking a golfer through a series of tournaments and earning attribute boosts along the way. You can create a golfer using the game's limited, and somewhat offensive (there's a character model called "chubby Asian"), character creation options, or use one of two unlocked golfers. Hopefully you're happy with the available choice of golfers, because it will be a long time before you get to play as anyone else. According to the game's Web site, the only way to unlock new golfers and courses is to win tournaments, but neither the game nor the manual ever explains this. After hours upon hours of play, and many tournaments won, we never unlocked a new golfer, so it's anyone's guess as to what it takes to do so. Two things you can earn and unlock, however, are skill points and new items. Making birdies and eagles during stroke or tournament play gives you points that can then be used to power up your golfer. Winning a tournament will net you a new club, glove, ball, or shoes. As it does with so many of its other aspects, the game does a poor job explaining how attribute points and items affect your golfer, and a cumbersome menu system doesn't help either. The tournaments themselves are standard, though there are odd cutscenes featuring someone that's supposed to be your rival, which play before and after the event. Your rival's pretty nice and rather humble, and the game never explains why this person is your rival, so it's all kind of pointless.
There are just seven courses in the game, none of which are real. Most of these feel as if they could have easily been in a Hot Shots game. There are a few neat courses, though, such as the Las Vegas course that's played only at night and the course that takes place in a theme park. Should you tire of the included courses, you can head to the course editor to create your own links masterpiece. The course editor could hardly be described as robust, but it does allow for some interesting designs, and it's easy to use.
On the course, Eagle Eye plays quite a bit like less-fun Hot Shots with a tiny bit of some watered-down Tiger Woods thrown into the mix. Rounds are quick, and you can fast-forward through your shots with the press of a button. One thing the game introduces is the concept of your golfer having stamina. Supposedly hitting lots of shots tires your golfer out, but this never seems to come into play. If you've ever played a golf game before, the controls are mostly straightforward. You swing by pulling back on the right analog stick and then moving it forward when you've reached the desired level of power on the meter. This works OK, but because your swing doesn't take place until after you're done moving the stick, there's a disconnect between your input and what's happening onscreen. You can add power to a shot by pressing the square button beforehand, and you can hit a slice or a fade by pressing left or right on the D pad as you swing. Adding backspin or topspin to a shot is done by holding down or up on the D pad during your swing. For the most part, this system works fine, and it's rather forgiving, but there are occasions when the game really punishes you for not moving the analog stick forward or back in a perfectly straight line, especially in mission mode.
Putting, on the other hand, is a complete mess. The game is totally unforgiving when deciding what putts will and won't go in. Like in so many other golf games, a grid is placed over the green, and little dots move along the lines to denote the direction and severity of the slope. Unfortunately, the greens in Eagle Eye slope when there aren't any moving dots, and the dots that are here have a nasty habit of disappearing when you move the camera. It's also extremely difficult to judge how hard you need to hit the ball. There's an indicator at the bottom of the screen that shows how severe the slope is, but there's little rhyme or reason as to how hard you need to hit the ball in relation to what the indicator is showing. None of this would be so bad if the game were a little less selective about which putts do and don't drop. It's agonizing to watch putts constantly wind up as close as "0.0" feet away from the hole without falling in. If you were hoping that a three-inch putt would be easy, you'll be disappointed to find that unless you pull down and push up on the stick as fast as you can, there's a good chance the ball will fly right over the cup. Even though the putting is all jacked up, the game's actually rather easy. You don't have to put much thought into upgrading your golfer, the CPU golfers don't put up much of a challenge, and the courses are mostly forgiving of poor shots.
Eagle Eye Golf is not a good-looking game. The character models are passable, though there isn't much variety to their animations. They may look decent, but the designs themselves are rather bizarre--mostly in a "Why is this person in a golf game?" way and not in a "Neat! That's a zany character!" way. Among the group are a baseball player, a woman with huge breasts in a low-cut shirt, a basketball player, some lady that looks like Guile from Street Fighter, and a guy that bears a close resemblance to that famous golfer Abraham Lincoln. The courses are colorful and have a few nice touches, like animated trees and ducks swimming in ponds, but for the most part they look like they're from a first-generation PlayStation 2 game. There aren't many trees, the frame rate occasionally chokes for no apparent reason, and the textures are dismal. All of the grass is completely flat, so it's tough to tell the difference between the fairway and the rough. And the greens are just, well, green.
Say what you will about the rest of the game, but it all shines when compared to the audio. The music is simply dreadful and doesn't fit the game well at all. The same goes for character voices. It's bad enough that the golfers say "ungh!" after every shot, but for some reason the game also puts the text on the screen when they say it. All of the golfers have a number of irritating sayings at their disposal, ready to be shouted out with the press of a button. The game is relentless with these idiotic quips, and unless you hit the ball right away, the CPU will pepper you with obnoxious sound bites chiding you to play faster. Toss in a nerve-racking wind sound effect that makes a 4mph wind sound like 100mph, and it's tough to come up with any way Eagle Eye could sound any worse.
For all of its problems--and there are many--Eagle Eye isn't all that bad of a golf game. The Hot Shots formula from which the game borrows so liberally is a good one, so it's possible to have a good time--it's just difficult to do so for more than a few rounds. For each thing the game does well, like fast-paced play and (mostly) accessible gameplay, it does a number of things poorly. The graphics are dated, the sound is terrible, many aspects of the game aren't explained well, and the putting is broken. In light of these problems, it's tough to recommend Eagle Eye Golf when you can purchase the very game that it tries to emulate so closely, for the same price, or even less.