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A lot of Everbody's Golf World Tour will seem very familiar if you played Everybody's Golf on the PSP. In fact, a lot of it will seem familiar if you've played any of the Everybody's Golf games developed by Clap Hanz for Sony on the PlayStation or PS2 - or the first Everybody's Golf and Mario Golf games developed by Camelot before that. Frankly, this is no cause for disappointment. Camelot nailed the formula for cutesy golf games early on and Clap Hanz has been refining it ever since, combining a distinctly Japanese cutesy cartoon style with a surprisingly accurate golf game and throwing in enough bite-sized tournaments and unlockables to keep you glued to the screen for months. I mean that, too. Eveybody's Golf is the only PSP launch game that I still play on anything like a regular basis.
Everybody's Golf World Tour is much the same game, but with new courses and new features designed to take advantage of the advanced capabilities of the PS3. Now, I know what you're saying - how can a cute, cartoon golf game possibly harness any of that awesome 3D horsepower? Well, World Tour proves that it can. While the characters are still the large-headed, wide-eyed caricatures familiar from past games, they now display a fantastic quantity of detail, not just in the expressions and the hair and the look and texture of their clothing, but in the way that clothing shifts and flows with the breeze. The closer you look, the more you're impressed.
In the meantime, the courses have grown more realistic, with more lifelike grass textures and tree models, and some lovely reflective water hazards dotted around. On top of that, there's an awful lot of stuff going on in the background, from the spectators wandering around the course, dodging the hard spherical objects hurtling their way, to leaves blowing in the wind and charming little critters who hop and scurry on the fairways. And all this is bound together with a superb lighting engine that gives the game the sort of sheen you might normally see in a top-drawer kid's CGI movie. World Tour might just be a cartoon golf game, but you won't have seen many cartoon games of any type that look as solid and believable as this.
Structurally, World Tour works in the same way as EG did on the PSP. You can play basic strokeplay matches, but the core of the game is a challenge mode where you work your way through a series of tiered tournaments and one-on-one matches. You begin with two characters to choose from, and as you win tournaments you'll unlock further characters, outfits, caddies, golf clubs, and - finally - new tiers, courses and levels of play. While you're free to switch characters between events at will, you're encouraged not to by a loyalty system. Keep playing with the same character and you fill their heart gauge, levelling them up and unlocking new shot abilities or performance boosts. It's all fairly simply, but - boy - does it work.