By: Brian Gunn
Dangerous Golf is the first game from Three Fields Entertainment, a studio formed by ex-Criterion staff of Burnout fame. It attempts to bring the insanity of that series’ car crashes to the odd combination of golf and swanky high-end buildings to amusing, if somewhat uneven, results.
Despite golf being in the title, players can expect something rather uncomplicated to control. Each level begins with a basic tee off, but the meat of the game and where players spend most of their time is in what’s called the Smashbreaker. This lets your ball get a second life after the tee shot, and you’re able to bounce it around like crazy with the left analog stick in order to cause as much mayhem as possible.
After that comes the putting phase, which is quite a bit faster and more powerful than the average putt, with the game encouraging trick shots to make up for the relative ease of the concept. All of these handle fairly well, though there’s a bit of a learning curve, especially with the Smashbreaker, and sometimes sinking putts feel more like random luck than skill.
Eventually the game introduces some modifiers and advanced techniques, but the core of the game is easy to pick up and play.
Dangerous Golf is set almost entirely in fancy houses and businesses, to the point where it feels like players are trashing the country clubs of the rich and famous. Levels are often gorgeous and well designed, which makes destroying them quite fun.
There’s spectacular physics on display as well as particle effects to rival AAA games. It does come at a cost though, as doing well on some levels will absolutely tank the frame rate to an absurd degree.
Sound design doesn’t stand out, with a sort of generic rock soundtrack greeting players at the menus and little else on the musical front. Effects are generally pretty great though, with the crunch and crash of everything breaking adding to the simple delights of causing so much destruction.
While Dangerous Golf has many modes, the World Tour is the star of the show. In it you’ll visit the various kitchens and ballrooms of countries like Australia and the USA, and totally destroy them. Each level’s basic goal is just to get the ball in the hole, though it will have additional goals as well — like destroying all of a certain item that will get you bonus score toward medals. And really, that’s about it. It’s simple but fairly well executed.
After beating a level you might unlock a new one, though often you’ll simply unlock new challenges in old ones — such as changing from destroying statues to covering the area in paint. This ends up making it seem like there’s not a whole lot of areas to play in, but the layout changes enough for it to not feel too repetitive.
Eventually some new challenges appear, like areas that require you to sink several holes on a limited amount of balls, as well as mechanics that allow you to shoot downward rather than straight ahead, but the basics of the game remain constant.
Other modes are likely to be a highlight with the multiplayer crowd, including a co-op World Tour that has your partner launching a ball in the wake of the wreckage you left behind. There are also competitive modes both off- and online, and all the local modes allow players to just pass the controller rather than needing one for everyone.
Dangerous Golf is a lot of fun in short bursts, though I found myself tuning out of the game after longer sessions. While it’s great for a visceral thrill every once in a while, as there’s always fun in just unloading on a room, I never found myself compelled to beat previous scores or outdo my friends thanks to a variety of little issues.
One such issue is that the game has inordinately long load times, which can kill that desire for that release somewhat quickly. For those that do get really into it though, there are all sorts of hidden challenges and secrets, like knocking a “Wet Floor” sign into a mop bucket, waiting to be discovered.
Dangerous Golf is a fun time, especially if you have some friends over. At times it can feel a bit more like a tech demo where you marvel at the physics and graphics rather than a full-fledged game, but it’s still worth a look if you want to trash a room without having to clean up after.