Hot Games of the Week Reviewed: April 28th

The Golf Club

Now that we’re well into Spring, it’s time to give up on work and hit the golf courses. The problem is that quitting work won’t leave you enough money for greens and cart fees, so you’ll have to resort to playing some virtual golf. Since EA Sports is making us wait three more months for its relaunch of the former Tiger Woods series under the Rory Mcilroy banner, The Golf Club is here to help you hit the links. Those in the mood to turn off their brains and blow stuff up can hit up Tower of Guns, and gamers looking to seize control of their own empires can try out Tropico 5.

Reviews by Phil Villarreal. Phil is an authorblogger and Twitterer. Publishers provided review copies.

The Golf Club

(PS4, Xbox One, $40, Everyone)

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Since EA Sports has been stuck in the clubhouse for the past couple years — it has dropped Tiger Woods and will release Rory McIlroy PGA Tour in July — there’s a void for other golf sims to fill. The Golf Club takes a solid swing at the effort, focusing on the core mechanics while willfully neglecting the style, licensing and presentation refinements that Tiger Woods fans had gotten used to. The result is a stopgap that seems like filler while golf gamers wait for the debut of Rory, but it’s one you can spend hours on, racking up progress in a deep, involving series of offline or online campaigns. What matters most about the game is it feels right.
The Golf Club is strictly for those who enjoy golf for the sport itself, and not the players or authentic courses that make up the PGA. You need patience and precision to time your stick-controlled swings just right for maximum power and accuracy. Just like real golf, you’re punished severely for your inevitable screwups, and are forced to make the best of the messes you create for yourself. Golf has always been one of the sports that eased into gaming with the most sense of realism, and The Golf Club is careful to get the basics right while not going overboard in an effort to stand out. While the solid yet bland main game is nothing special, Greg Norman-backed course designer adds tons of replay value. Myriad terrain, backdrop and texture options let you create and share just about anything you can dream up.

Tower of Guns

(PS4, Xbox One, $15, Everyone 10+)

Sick of suffering through story cinematics and bland dialogue in between attempts at lining up headshots? Tower of Guns may be your speed. A throwback to the Doom/Quake era of minimal story and maximum bullet blazing, Tower of Guns tosses aside anything that holds up the action. It’s you, a flashy array of guns and hyper aggressive enemies who take you down with prejudice, sending you back bitter and willing to take another shot at the grind. Even its occasional glitches add a bit to the charm, giving the game a little bit of a bootleg-style shareware title you might have played in the 90s.
Procedurally-generated levels keep you on your heels, unable to get by with trial-and-error repetition. If you liked the rapid fire obliteration of Blood Bowl on Xbox 360, this just may be your jam. Just don’t expect the thrills to last. Good for quick thrills in short spurts, Tower of Guns doesn’t much stick to the ribs. The very thing that makes it stand out also holds it back, with its lack of story leaving you little sense of progression or purpose. It’s a questionable buy for $15 on Xbox One, but a must-play steal are a freebie on PS4 for PlayStation Plus members.

Tropico 5

(PS4, $60, Teen)

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The most humorous and satire-filled strategy franchise makes its current-gen debut, refining its well-honed mix of world-building, crowd control and sleazy under-the-table arrangements that come with being a Third World dictator. You take control of your banana republic, micromanaging everything from foreign policy down to housing. trade and economic production. It’s a balancing act to protect your populace from bullying from superpowers, recovering from natural disasters and fending off usurpers. To survive and thrive, you’ve got to be a good-hearted slimeball who keeps his people happy while also looking out for yourself and your cronies.

While there’s no noticeable graphical improvements from the last-gen Tropico games, and the adjustments to gameplay are only noticeable if you go back and play one of the older games, Tropico 5 is still an easy recommendation. There’s nothing else like it on the Xbox One or PS4, and there’s enough to see, do and tweak for dozens of playthroughs, none of which will play out even remotely alike. A humorous, strategy-minded power trip, the game lets you lord over your own empire, infusing it with not only your thoughts but a required sense of absurdity.

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