World Tour does introduce a new control system, but don’t worry. EG still hasn’t adopted any Tiger Woods style analogue system, and the new mode is really just a variant of the classic three-click bar (which you can still opt for, should you prefer). Rather than a bar gauge, you now use the player’s backswing to get the strength of your shot right. With a handy red flash at the maximum end and a gold flash at the optimum point, it’s actually more intuitive than you might think. Having clicked once to start the backswing and once for power, you then time the impact by clicking once a decreasing circle gets within the onscreen brackets. Time it right, and you’ll hit it straight and true. Time it wrong and you’re left with a damp squib or a wayward shot. Again, simple but perfectly functional.
The game succeeds for a number of reasons, but I think a lot of it comes down to charm, solid course design and the fabulous flow of play. The charm bit is easy. While it’s possible to get annoyed with the amusing tics of the characters or the background chatter of observers after a while, you’ll spend a long time being amused by their little warm-up animations, exuberant celebrations and foul displays of temper first. In fact, part of the long-term appeal lies in getting to know the new characters and see what antics they’ll get up to. The course design, meanwhile, is brilliant in a way that you might not fully comprehend at first. It’s tempting to moan that you’re restricted for so long to one course, then two courses, then three courses and so on, but variations in wind, weather conditions and the competition keeps each one interesting long past what should be its use-by date, and each one has distinguishing features – like the walled villages in the Okinawa links course – that will keep challenging you no matter how many times you play them. The European course features some particularly fiendish greens, and where else but Everybody’s Golf would you find yourself playing among African elephants, Dutch windmills or gothic towers?
What I love best, however, is the way the game flows from one shot to another and then from one event to the next. World Tour is always light on its feet. It’s never ponderous or too obsessed with real sporting atmosphere or showing off the ultra-realistic rendering of its virtual athletes’ faces. There are few tedious lulls anywhere, and even when you blow the vital shot at the end of the tournament and face another trawl through the same nine holes, it’s hard to get too frustrated. Like EG on the PSP, World Tour is hideously morish. The fact that each event can be hacked through in around 15 to 20 minutes makes it all the more tempting to just do one more, then just one more, then – hey, why not? – just one more after that. At the same time, the difficulty curve is perfectly judged, easing players in with events that are practically impossible to lose without multiple double bogeys, then ramping up the challenge as new courses and events emerge.