Considering that it just debuted on the App Store less than 24 hours ago, publisher Com2uS prematurely crowned its newest iPhone and iPad title, GolfStar, as king of the genre. The description raises an eyebrow, with boisterous verbiage that describes the company's effort as "the most realistic golf game of all time," and "the greatest golf game you'll ever play." Such claims are fine if you deliver, but GolfStar isn't the best, not by a long shot.
The first issue that crops up is the "always online" requirement in order to play. No Wi-Fi? No GolfStar. We've seen this in other games, most recently Scopely's Mini Golf MatchUp, and it continues to leave us puzzled. Golf is meant to be casual, the type of experience a person does alone and/or with buddies, so preventing them from enjoying it while on a plane sans Internet makes no sense. At least with Mini Golf MatchUp, it's online only, but this app has a full-fledged single-player mode.
Beyond that, you need Hearts to play GolfStar, and this precious currency always seems to be in short supply. That is, unless you earn a modest number of coins from leveling up, or buy more through in-app purchase, which Com2uS is more than happy to shove into your face, along with countless tips from the computer, invites to play with Facebook friends and other bothersome pop-ups that only serve to prevent you from fitting a round of golf into your presumably busy schedule. The Heart concept, though, is just wrong. It's one thing to forbid people from stepping onto new courses without a necessary unlock, but shutting the game down is sure to push users away.
On top of that, the game highlights the same courses for well over an hour. The wind may kick up, and going one-on-one with players online (even this costs Hearts, though one less than normal) means there's always a fellow golfer to compete against, but a change of scenery would be nice.
Despite this negativity, and much like an old home, we like to think of GolfStar as having potential. Good bones, so to speak. Hitting mechanics work just as good as they do in high quality golf titles, and there's a fun assortment of bonus items that imbue your golfer with cool abilities, including drinks that increase the Perfect Shot area and decrease Swing Gauge speed, among others. And if you are into customizing your golfer, there are a somewhat average but acceptable number of outfits.
The developers also deserve kudos for the aforementioned multiplayer. In recent tests, we never encountered problems connecting to the network and locating opponents. Even better, you play at the same time, instead of asynchronously.
The visuals also stand out, with attractive courses decorated in acres of perfect grass and healthy trees stretching into the cloud-dotted blue sky. Put in some headphones, and you'll relax to the sounds of running water and the ball gently bouncing off the green.
None of that, however, makes GolfStar the greatest of all time. For now, it'll have to settle for being average, and we expect Com2uS to release new updates that will make it a high quality product. That said, if you're in desperate search of an outstanding golf title for your mobile, Gameloft's Let's Golf 3 is still the undisputed king.
What's Hot:No issue finding people to play against online, great swing and putting mechanics, cool power-ups.
What's Not:Requires online connection, not enough courses, too much noise in terms of pop-ups and tutorial, requires Hearts to play.