Posted on July 10, 2008,

XBLA Hors D’oeuvres: Golf: Tee It Up!

XBLA Hors D’oeurvres are a weekly feature where I play the latest Xbox Live Arcade game – in trial form – for no more than 10 minutes, and then summarize my impressions of the game based upon only that.

You can immediately tell as soon as you see a screenshot of Golf: Tee It Up! that the game is going for a Hot Shots Golf type of vibe. And that is indeed how it plays: an extremely easy and simple to pick up golf game that focuses less on your ability to calculate the wind and type of golf ball you need and more on reflexes and easy to pick-up-and-play controls. In those regards it absolutely succeeds. You won’t be sinking hours and hours into the game to learn its many nuances; from what I could tell, the game isn’t the deepest golf game around. But that’s perfectly alright, because a simple golf game for $10 is the perfect type of experience for Xbox Live Arcade.

As soon as I started the game, I was able to deck out my character with all sorts of crazy clothing. I slapped on some bunny ears, monster feet, a tie and sunglasses, and I was off to the course. There was no tutorial that popped up instructing me what to do, which wasn’t much of a problem. I made it through the first five holes with only a single above-par performance, using only the very bare bones controls of the A button and the left analog stick.

There is, of course, more to it than that. Wind does play a factor despite what I said earlier, but it’s not terribly difficult to compensate for. On each hole, you’re given a certain number of seconds to use a bullet-time style effect where time slows down as the ball is rolling or soaring through the air. This allows you to make minor adjustments to where the ball is going to land and in which direction it moves. You can’t drastically alter your shot, but it can mean the difference between a 30-yard put and landing in the cup.

There are 36 holes in total, of which I sampled only a dozen. I’m hoping they continue to be as varied as the early holes. It’d be fun if some of them end up in exotic places like a volcano, although I’m not holding my breath on that. (But that’s what DLC is for!)

I’ve mentioned a number of times that I’ve been playing the hell out of Hot Shots Golf: Open Tee 2 recently. That’s a full priced PSP game, and while it certainly does have more depth to it and more content, but in ten minutes with Tee It Up, I had just as much fun. With the ability to play online with four players in versus or co-op modes, this game seems like an absolute bargain for $10.

My one gripe with the game is the inability to skip the sequence following your swing. I’m very impatient while playing golf, and I don’t really feel like being forced to watch my ball slowly roll downhill when I can’t do anything about it because I stupidly wasted all of my bullet-time juice on my drive. I just feel like the game is rubbing it in at that point.

Regardless, I bought the game as soon as I was done with my ten minutes — and it was only partially because I had just sunk an eagle and wanted the achievements. I’ve got an itch to get back to playing it right now, and I can already tell this is going to be another one of those fun, relaxing games you can kick back and play with a few friends.

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