Review

Powerstar Golf Review

  • First Released
    released
  • Reviewed
  • XONE

Par for the course.

Golf might be the very definition of a game that is simple conceptually, but exceptionally difficult to master. It's this mix of simplicity and challenge that makes golf video games so captivating, when they get it right. Which Powerstar Golf does--mostly. There's nothing revolutionary here, but Powerstar Golf is an absorbing game in the tradition of the Hot Shots Golf series, with some fun competitive features and a loot system that offers you enticing rewards for your progress, but can also be stingy with the goods.

When you first fire up Powerstar Golf, you have access to only two golfers and one course, the leisurely City Park. Each golfer has his or her own unique ability that can be used a set number of times in each event. Scientist Reiko Kobayashi's Tesla field, for instance, puts just a teensy bit of magnetic pull on the hole, giving you a slight edge when putting, while retired astronaut Frank Weaver's rocket launch ability lets him send balls flying farther than they would otherwise. These characters and the others you can unlock have a fashion sense and an angular look that make the game feel as if it takes place in some idealized vision of the 1950s.

It's at City Park that you learn the basics--how swings are performed by tapping to start, tapping again to set the swing's power, and tapping one last time for accuracy. It's a straightforward approach to swinging, and just tricky enough that nailing the power and accuracy of a shot never stops feeling great. Simple as it is, though, it becomes quite complicated when you realize you have to take factors like wind and terrain into account. It's your struggle against these factors that makes success on the links so satisfying, but Powerstar Golf doesn't go far enough in helping you to understand the tools at your disposal. Brief tutorial videos introduce you to concepts like putting spin on the ball to curve your shot and to the properties of pitch shots and chip shots. But at no point does the game illuminate the difference between a 3 wood and a 5 wood, or explain why you might want to use a 9 iron for certain shots and a 4 iron for others. Since the game doesn't shy away from many of the complexities of real golf in its mechanics, it's a shame that you can't say the same about the tutorials.

Though the game doesn't go far enough in its efforts to help you succeed on the golf course, it does make your successes, large and small, feel like a cause for celebration. On every shot you take, you can see markers on the course indicating your previous personal best, as well as the best performances among your friends, and even the world record. The game tracks things like the longest drive, the closest approach within 75 yards, and the closest approach beyond 150 yards. And each time you beat your own personal best for longest putt or anything else, the previous marker for your performance vanishes and is replaced with a new one as the game celebrates your achievement. The game finds little ways to make you feel good, even when you're having a bad day on the course.

You don't know anguish until you get a triple bogey.

It's on the green where most of your dreams are realized or shattered, where your heart sinks as a chance at a birdie turns into a double bogey when you miscalculate the left slope in the terrain or overcompensate for an uphill climb. But if the game of golf (and of Powerstar Golf) couldn't conjure such heartbreak, the victories wouldn't be as sweet, and the difficulty of putting properly means that when you do sink that birdie from a distance, you feel like a champ.

As you play, you level up, unlocking new courses and new career events, though the process can take a while. You may be eager to see what challenges await in the lush Emperor's Garden course or in the tropical and volcanic Burning Sands course while you're still stuck only having access to City Park and the autumnal Rocky Ridge. Leveling up isn't enough, in and of itself, to get you access to additional golfers. For that, you must defeat each of them in career events on their home course, and these events can be devilishly difficult. Two-thirds of the game's playable characters require you to win tough events before you can access them, and you might tire of playing those nine-hole contests over and over again in a bid to unlock them.

You can improve your performance with gear that you purchase using credits you earn during play, but you can't just pick out a more precise putter or a more powerful set of irons. Instead, you buy packs that contain five items, and each item could be gear, or a onetime-use booster (a 20 percent boost to the experience you earn, for instance), or a new equippable perk for your caddie (a 50 percent chance for the ball to skip on the surface of a water hazard, perhaps), or even just a new outfit for a golfer or caddie. The element of chance makes it exciting to fork over your credits and see what you end up with, and the color coding of items in the green-blue-purple-orange tier system familiar from so many loot-driven role-playing games makes getting the rare, high-end stuff especially exciting.

To spend, or not to spend?

At least, until you rack up enough credits that you can buy packs guaranteed to contain nothing but orange-colored "extreme" gear. Acquiring that many credits, however, would take an extremely long time, given the slow pace at which the game doles them out. As it is, you can purchase a pack of blue "pro" gear after every few events and purple "elite" gear after every several, and there's always a chance these packs will include a few items from the next tier up. But the game is just stingy enough about doling out credits to nudge you toward purchasing them with real money. This option isn't yet active in the game's online store, but there's already a button prompt for it, so it's likely coming very soon.

Thankfully, Powerstar Golf makes your time on the links enjoyable, whether or not you have any interest in sinking money into microtransactions to get some extra goodies. This game covers well-trodden territory, but the way that it tracks your performance and the performance of your friends makes it a fine fit for the Xbox One's launch lineup, and a pleasant way to spend some time. So long as your idea of pleasant doesn't preclude the anguish that can come with a missed putt or a miscalculated swing that sends your ball plummeting into the water.

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The Good
Captures the triumph and the heartbreak of golf
Competitive features constantly push you to improve
Inviting visual style
Plenty of cool gear to acquire
The Bad
In-game economy is geared to encourage you to spend real money
Tutorials don't delve deep enough
7
Good
About GameSpot's Reviews

About the Author

It's been many years since Carolyn has played a golf video game, and even longer since she's been on an actual golf course. She spent upward of a dozen hours on Powerstar Golf's four courses.
31 comments
huddie
huddie

Can someone please tell me why the f#@* this game doesn't save your progress during a round? An 18 hole round can take a while to complete. Forcing players to leave their console on for hours on end between sessions because they're still in a round is nothing short of idiotic. It's frustrating, unfair, sore on the energy bill payer's pocket and bad for the environment. And, before you ask, I don't use the Xbox One 'instant on' mode as this also wastes energy. 

thom_maytees
thom_maytees

I am quite surprised the game received a 7/10, as I felt that it would have scored less. At least it is not a Ryse: Son of Rome.

thanxforplayin
thanxforplayin

I actually enjoy this game reminds me of mario golf, the only thing I don't like is there is no online multiplayer 

ScreamDream
ScreamDream

In-game economy is geared to encourage you to spend real money. By the way, the publisher is Microsoft but I'm sure you could have guessed that.

Fryboy101
Fryboy101

geared toward using real money? I played 4 matches of golf and was able to buy some of the higher club bundles.  She's either impatient or just bad at the game to earn any credits

Ahiru-San
Ahiru-San

does this even use kinect?! 

daveg1
daveg1

pppfffttt...woodsy is the only golf game about worth playing..

sladakrobot
sladakrobot

I was really looking forward for this game.
I played Winning Shor Golf,Tee Off,Hot Shots,Ace Golf :)
This game has several things that are just not right for me...
The characters are ugly and there is too much arcade influence on the playfield itself(magnetic putting help,boosts etc).
No caharcter creator and no import from own avatars


murekkep
murekkep

So these are "Quality" Xbox exclusives eh?

mr_nee
mr_nee

Nintendo just called, they want their graphics back

Bladestop
Bladestop

Why does it seem like every console launch has some cartoony golf title?? Or is it just me that feels this way?

Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

(In before the passengers of the silly "misogyny" joke bandwagon hop down.)

deathstream
deathstream

If it is grind or pay, it needs to be F2P.  

Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

*Urgh*. Pay-to-win microtransactions incoming.

If those features get into a later update for the game, I say that's sh*t for value.

gamespotpanayis
gamespotpanayis

@thom_maytees  A different type of game.. I'd probably give it an 8/10.. very good golf game and lots of fun to play.

gamespotpanayis
gamespotpanayis

@thanxforplayin  Yes, the Rivals part of the game allows you to compete against your friends best rounds on a particular course.. but also having online multi-player could only add to this experience.

gamespotpanayis
gamespotpanayis

@ScreamDream  I don't agree... it's geared towards making you choose if you want to chance buying a lesser value pack (and maybe getting higher value kit), or waiting a long time to get your extreme cards..

I think it's an absolute blast and the randomness is just like a game of golf.. ranging from disappointment to delight at getting better equipment.

I don't think this game will suffer from allowing people to buy packs.. because he results will be just as random.


All-in-all a really fun game.

gamespotpanayis
gamespotpanayis

@murekkep  This one really is a quality game.... Makes up for not having Resogun!

Ultimately I think this game would have more playability than resogun would have had.. but I would have liked the chance to find out!  :-)

woodyfr
woodyfr

@mr_nee Next gen doesn't mean photo realistic graphics for every game.

gamespotpanayis
gamespotpanayis

@deathstream  It's not actually that much of a grind.. You play a series of around 7 challenges to unlock each new golfer/course.. The only Grind is if you wish to buy the kit packs.. and of those, only the top-tier takes more than 3-4 challenges to earn for (more if you are really bad at the game!)

huddie
huddie

@gamespotpanayis @ScreamDream  Agreed. I've played a good few hours of it now and don't feel any pressure at all to spend real money.  I never spend real money in a game.  This game is good fun and reasonably challenging too.  


I disagree with Carolyn' remarks about the lack of tutorials.  So far I've figured out most of what I need to know.  It will get harder and, of course, there's always more to learn, but I think the game does communicate reasonably well to the player.

Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

@Duttyhandz 

"Get a life", says the person who wasted time writing things that I won't heed. ;)

Duttyhandz
Duttyhandz

@Gelugon_baat@jacquelineferre Well don't get one. By the way, what are you doing here ? You know, commenting a review of a game you don't care about on a console you don't care about either. You should go post your meaningful, useful and inspiring comments on threads about games and platforms you actually know, own, like, etc. Stop wasting your time, and you'll stop wasting ours.


Damn, get a life, I'm pretty sure they're selling better than yours on eBay for a bargain. You know, a life where you won't have so much nothing to do or so little attention that you feel the need to get some through things you don't care about.


There, you should feel better now I'm sure, I just gave you some of what you're missing...

Powerstar Golf More Info

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  • First Released
    released
    • Xbox One
    Powerstar Golf is a new golf game being developed by Zoe Mode for the Xbox One.
    7
    Average Rating7 Rating(s)
    Please Sign In to rate Powerstar Golf
    Developed by:
    Zoe Mode
    Published by:
    Microsoft Game Studios
    Genre(s):
    Sports, Golf, Arcade
    Content is generally suitable for all ages. May contain minimal cartoon, fantasy or mild violence and/or infrequent use of mild language.
    Everyone
    All Platforms
    No Descriptors