by William Thompson
reviewed on PC
I do like to have a hit of golf every now and again. The chance to catch up with a couple of mates and leisurely wander around the eighteen holes and occasionally hit a good shot somewhere in the direction of the hole. It is a somewhat of a cathartic experience as we walk through the beautifully manicured course chatting about everything and nothing (mainly the performance of our football teams) and wondering how the green keepers get just the right length on the lawn. GolfTopia lets you do just that, as it places you as the designer and manager of a futuristic golf course.
GolfTopia sets gamers on a small island and tasks them with designing and creating a futuristic golfing utopia. The island is split up into nine parcels of land, each with their own unique features. Upon selecting your starting square and building a clubhouse, designers set about producing their dream course. With a setup similar to titles such as Theme Park and Rollercoaster Tycoon, players have a host of features that they can add to their courses to make them more beautiful and to help earn money.
Designing each hole is relatively intuitive – particularly after you’ve been shown the ropes with the tutorial. You place a tee, a hole and then select from a range of terrains to fill the gap in between. Fairways, greens, bunkers, and rough are the basic components, but designers can add a touch of nature with some trees, shrubs, and rocks. Designers can even terraform the land, although the terrain tool can be a little difficult to work with. Initially, you can construct three holes before needing to upgrade your clubhouse.
Bringing in the customers
Upgrading the clubhouse (apart from the first upgrade) isn’t just a matter of planting some of your hard earned down, but will require several other pre-requisites to be completed before being able to upgrade. For starters, you will need to have a certain number of tiered members. Golfers who enjoy the course will become members, and if they are pleased with the course development, they will then upgrade their memberships.
Golfers must be kept satisfied, via creating great courses with a range of features and conveniences. All this cost money to purchase and maintain, and although some – such as food and drink vending machines – bring in much needed funds, it is a balancing act between keeping golfers in high spirits and profits. It is not just these golfer amenities that need to be maintained. Indeed, the course itself needs to be superbly manicured, so that it attracts new golfers. And for this there are several options. You initially start with a couple of drones that can complete the task of clearing weeds, but as your course gets larger, you’ll need to either add some more drones, build anti-weed laser turrets that can clear weeds in a circular fashion like a sprinkler, or build the larger weed cannons, that can unleash an artillery strike of weed killer.
Livening it up
Golfers don’t want to just have plain courses to play, and as manager, you are tasked with adding some eye candy to the course. Items such as trees give the course a back-to-nature ambiance (particularly noteworthy in this futuristic timeline), but these can also be a hindrance. Although they look good, the trees often don’t help golfers with wayward shots, so a balance must be kept between maintaining the beauty of the courses and their functionality. With its futuristic twist, GolfTopia adds several exciting elements that can be added to the courses to keep golfers amused. In a way, these features – such as Ball launchers, Bumpers, and the Ring of Fire – give the game a more oversized mini-golf ambiance than a realistic golf designer. This appears to be as intended though, as the game has a more casual feel to it. Added to this an upbeat synthesized background tune and some cool pop culture reference including Back to the Future’s hoverboard, and the Trans Tube connectors that are similar to those used to travel around in Futurama.
In GolfTopia, golfers play around the clock. This is wonderfully represented by day and night cycles. Of course, playing at night – even with glow in the dark golf balls - can have its own issues. Golfers will complain about the darkness, and to combat this, light will need to be placed strategically around your course. Golfers will complain about a heap of things, and it is up to you to monitor their grievances. Each golfer can be interacted with to see what their gripes and favourite parts of the course are. Each hole too, is given a rating, so you can find out which need to be slightly altered. On one particular hole, I found that golfers were complaining about their balls going in the water. Maybe they were all bad golfers, but a large bunker between the fairway and the sea prevented further whinging.
Hit the links
GolfTopia does feel like a sim game of old - in a good way. It is accessible to newcomers to the management sim genre and as such, retains a more casual feel. With nice visuals, a well laid out user interface, and some interesting futuristic takes on the game of golf, GolfTopia is a game for all, even if you’re not a fan of golf. But if you are a fan of golf and designing courses, then there aren’t a heap of choices that are as fun as GolfTopia. It will however be interesting to see how the course editor on the upcoming PGA Tour 2K21 compares.
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Easy to learn, clear UI
Terrain tool can be annoying to work with