Xbox Review: Outlaw Golf 2

There's one thing you need to be aware of when picking up a copy of Outlaw Golf 2: This is one of the best golf games ever created. Yes, better than Hot Shots, better than Tiger Woods, and better than any other low level contender you can purchase for the Xbox or PS2. It's unthinkable that an offensive, abrasive, and M rated game of golf could be this successful, but it is.

This sequel is a clear cut case of a developer listening to its audience to fix what went wrong the first time out. The countless changes to the golf aspects themselves are incredible, even if the basic mechanics remain the same. Little aggravations like the camera being out of place for putts, frustratingly overused course objects, and lack of online play have all been addressed a taken care of.

While it does feature hookers, lesbians, bad Mexican stereotypes, and hippies as playable characters, you cannot take Outlaw Golf off the shelf and expect an easy ride. This is a robust golf engine, one with unforgiving physics, attention to detail, and a simple analog swing system. You need to know golf to play Outlaw Golf 2. The knowledge of variances with spin and loft for each club is a necessity to conquer a brutal set of single-player challenges. It definitely crosses the line of fairness as your career progresses and you're forced to use each character to move on.

Putting remains the same this time, with a unique system giving the player three chances to see where the putt will go if they swing where the putting marker is placed. After the third peek, you're at the mercy of the basic grid. It creates tense moments where a slight adjustment is needed, but no more opportunities to see the line remain. It's a nice midway point between Tiger Woods (which shows everything) and Hot Shots (which barely offers any help).

When things go haywire, take a break with multiple mini-games to lighten the mood. Beating down your caddy is key to maintaining your composure, a somewhat broken concept that should have been fixed. Slamming the colorful caddies is a matter of timing A button presses when prompted, and the benefits are superb. Having a high composure meter makes you more accurate and allows for farther drives. Miss a shot and it drains rapidly. It's crucial to determine when a caddy beat-down is necessary since they're limited. Sadly, the meter drains or fills itself at random times, like when the ball grazes into the rough after just missing the hole. That's not always a bad shot.

As stupid as it sounds for inclusion in a golf sim, that system adds another small layer of strategy. The same can't be said for the golf cart challenges, which range from driving them between rings to picking off crowds of people dumb enough to stand in the fairway. Winning these excessively difficult challenges gives the player a chance at a "perfect" shot, which varies in actual perfection. It's the only totally missed concept in the game, and it can be ignored entirely if you want.

The crass personalities on the courses mean voice work is plentiful. Dave Attell handles the mocking commentary duties, and while repetitive, still offers enough to make you laugh. It's crucial to never miss a cinematic either; they're comedy gold.

Where Outlaw Golf truly shines is originality. There has never been a golf game with this many varied modes of play to select from. Innovative new ways to play include baseball (pars and birdies put people "on base"), Bingo-Bango-Bongo (earn points for playing better than your opponents on the green), basic wagering, or the ability to take clubs away from your adversary when you win a hole. You'll spend hours here, challenging each other in these modes, or playing basic golf staples like skins and match play.

Xbox Live support is not only included, but robust and customizable. Two players can log on using only one Xbox, either as a team or as opponents in any of the above mentioned modes. While Outlaw moves quick, you have the option to let all the players move at their own pace on each hole instead of waiting for everyone to finish their turn. Including this in the single player game would have been a welcome addition.

Innovative, funny, and undeniably enjoyable, Outlaw Golf 2 is a total shock. The first game was a blast, and nothing can bring this sequel down. This isn't only one of the greatest golf games ever, it's also one of the best budget titles ever shoveled out onto to the market too. The few minor quirks cannot possibly detract from the enjoyment you'll receive from this one (assuming you understand the sport's basics).

(***** out of *****)

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