The Golf Club 2 is the sequel to HB Studios debut golfing simulator, The Golf Club, and promises to offer better visuals thanks to shifting the game over to Unity 5, a better player creator, course editor, and of course a stronger focus on player ran Golf Clubs themselves. But does The Golf Club 2 improve the game’s handicap at all?

People often wonder why I enjoy simulation games so much. Maybe because they’re cheaper alternatives to actually enjoying the thing being simulated, maybe because I’m just a massive simulation nerd. Either way, The Golf Club was one of the few sim games I really enjoyed, but it wasn’t without its flaws.

Sure, the first game has become much more polished than its stint in Early Access, but there were still a few things which left a bitter taste in my mouth, one of those things was the game’s controls. Using the thumb stick to swing was very hit or miss (literally) as you have a very limited movement to actually swing, so being able to refine the velocity was always quite tricky.

The good news though is that The Golf Club 2 seems to bring not only some better visuals, but also some refined controls. Now players can, after a bit of practice, really refine their golfing game by not only swinging harder or softer, but also adjusting all aspects of the swing itself, whether it’s the type of swing, or the location or impact of said swing.

The Golf Club 2 brings a new level of simulation allowing players to customise almost every aspect of their experience from the more robust character creation system to the course creator to simply being able to adjust and refine aspects of the swing itself. That’s not to say that The Golf Club 2 can’t be enjoyed without spending 30 minutes deciding what shot you should take depending on the wind speed and direction, because it can. For the most part the game actually gives you a rough basis to go on per swing allowing casual players to jump in and out of the game with ease.

The Golf Club 2 has become one of the more accessible golf games out there in terms of allowing anyone, regardless of their golfing experience, to join in. If you have an extra controller all you need to do is join as a guest and begin swinging away. There is the most slight learning curve, but after a few holes you can begin to understand how to improve your backswing and figure out how to judge whether your put is going to veer off to the side.

One of the biggest things to come to The Golf Club 2 is Societies, a brand new feature that allows players themselves to set up communities which can put on special events and tournaments within that community. These Societies can be fully customised from the colours, to the society emblem. It’s a real interesting and unique way to keep players engaged and coming together.

What’s more, players can work together to increase the cash pot of their Society in order to afford much grander clubhouses and interiors. Eventually Societies can start Major Tournaments which will attract crowds and even offer TV-like commentary of the whole match.

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Speaking of commentary, The Golf Club 2 brings the return of everyone’s favourite Canadian commentator. While he’s just as sarcastic as ever, this version comes with even more lines than before as well as various personality traits such as getting a little over excited by a certain shot. It’s definitely a nice touch to the game, but it can get a little tedious when lines are repeated, or he continually keeps making the wrong assumptions in an effort to appear more “human”.

Visually, the game looks better than ever, including the player’s avatar. A lot of effort has gone into the new player characters including customisation. Now you can customise clothing facial features, the lot. But best of all the character acts and feels more realistic, from the swings being much more fluid, to animations being added for both pre- and post-swing which is a really nice touch. That being said, there are times where the character will swing really bizarrely but that’s usually when you’ve managed to hit it somewhere stupid, like on the edge of a slope.

As for the rest of the game, The Golf Club 2 definitely looks visually better than the first, however there are a couple of things here and there which really do not add up. One example is trees in the distance, rather than fully rendered trees like those found on courses, these ones in the background look like two images of a tree slid together like those paper craft kits you used to play with as a kid. Not a massive deal, really, because who pays this much attention to the background, but it’s a little immersion breaking.

Another area in which The Golf Club 2 isn’t as visually pleasing as I’d have liked is when putting, it’s often incredibly difficult to work out visually where the cup is. Sure, you can press Y and be thrust forward, but that doesn’t really help much when you’re back behind your golfer. A few more visual clues would be super helpful in this case.

The Golf Club 2 now comes with plenty of ways for players to play, along with a more sort of quick game mode where anyone can jump into any game, there’s also a Career in which players can take on various single-player tournaments to earn in-game currency and join single-player Societies. This currency can then be transferred over to your online Society so playing the career is definitely a good way to inject more cash into your online community.

As for the course creation there are an insane amount of tools available to creator and I’ll be honest I found it a little overwhelming. That being said, there are enough players out there continually creating courses to ensure that you honestly won’t get tired of The Golf Club 2 any time soon. These generally range from more serious and complex courses, but you’ll also find the odd silly course thrown in here or there, like one which required players to hit the ball onto a series of 30-story archipelagos – though I’ll be honest, this one didn’t quite work as well as the creator may have intended.

All in all, The Golf Club 2 is an all-round improvement, yet a familiar game to fans of the series. While the core gameplay hasn’t changed, it’s been improved upon and it’s a much more enjoyable game than before to both casual and hardcore golfing buffs. The community features allow for a much more social game and the ability for players to work together to evolve their Societies is a pretty neat feature.

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