Physics Games and Physics-Based Game Downloads

The Question Mark is There for a Reason

Saturday, January 19th, 2008 by Ed Harrison in Physics Games
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (Rate this game! 119 votes, average: 4.13 out of 5)

Occasionally, a game just sticks out. Sometimes for it’s cinematic polish, or it’s finely tuned gameplay…but every now and then you happen across a game that’s simply a labor of love – a game that conforms only to the unique creativity of the developers and not to market demands or existing conventions. Golf? (golfquestionmark), despite being a game of golf with standard golf rules, is one such game. Its unique visual style and its unrestricted physics-based movement both create a refreshingly new experience out of a tired old concept.

One Cup, Abstract Minimalism

The first thing to leave an impression is the art direction. The ground is more or less standard golf course stuff, though colored entirely in shades of grey. Each course is contained within a giant black cube with a glowing ceiling. Birds made of single lines fly overhead. Trees litter the grounds, many looking like they belong on the corners of playing cards, others with bursts of solid color which contrast the surroundings, and some which are simply vector outlines off in the distance. Some courses are inhabited by giant, abstract robots (boxes with legs, I suppose) frozen in mid stride to provide obstacles for your golf ball. Player models are brightly colored, low polygon, robots whose heads might be anything from guns to teapots depending on what you’re doing. Your caddy–who doubles as a controllable free camera–is a flying box robot with a respectable face on the front of his rectangular head, though he seems to enjoy his low-polygon grog. The flagpoles at each hole are adorned with a little robot wearing a top hat.

This is a game which celebrates its digital nature, outlining polygons with artistic, surreal pride, rather than trying to fool you with some attempt at realism. It’s classy, silly and atmospheric all at the same time.

A Teaspoon of Physics

None of which would mean a great deal if the game wasn’t fun to play. Thankfully it is, and this fun is complemented by the complete physical freedom the player is given at all times. When taking a shot, you swing your club manually using the mouse. The ball’s path leaves a permanent dotted line in the air, allowing you to analyze the trajectory and find your ball. Rather than simply moving you to the ball, like most golf games do, you have to make your way there yourself. Walking around the courses plays like a standard first person game, although to help speed you on your way, you are given a “rocket sauce” powered golf cart which you can drive around freely, bouncing over hills or flinging yourself off ramps which appear on and around a few courses. The physics engine behind all movement in the game is straightforward yet effective, making cart movement entertainingly bouncy, and ball movement reliable and solid.

Most importantly, the free physical approach does not detract from the depth of traditional golf gameplay. You can select from a complete range of golf clubs, and each acts on the ball differently and as you would expect. At first, you might find the freedom of club swinging a bit loose and uncontrolled, but you will quickly learn to ‘feel’ it, as you would with a real golf club, and you will most certainly improve with a little practice.

Golf? Screenshot Screenshot of Physics Games
(Golf? Game Screenshots)

Stir and Enjoy

Overall, Golf? provides a distinctively unique, and surprisingly polished gameplay experience (especially considering it’s just a beta). Four players can play simultaneously over the internet or a network, but even the solo experience is fun and rewarding. The game has nine holes, and the occasional creative surprise which, when noticed, can put a slightly different spin on gameplay. The game is highly replayable (it gets more fun as you get better), and feels more or less complete in it’s current form, so there’s not much reason not to give it a try. Just ensure your graphics card handles OpenGL comfortably, grab the download, and have a swing.

Download Golf? Public Beta (22 MB)

Or visit the Golf? website for more information.

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12 Responses to 'The Question Mark is There for a Reason'

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  1. Matt said,

    on January 19th, 2008 at 11:12 pm

    1st!…and Its an OK game…give it a go

  2. Whef said,

    on January 20th, 2008 at 12:55 am

    And why the hell does your actor have a gun as a head again?

  3. edweird said,

    on January 20th, 2008 at 1:27 am

    In it’s current beta form, Golf? has no music. The music used in the video is “Music for 18 Musicians” (the first section, ‘Pulses’) by Steve Reich. It’s a fantastic piece of work, worth a complete listen. I’ve played Golf? to it a few times :)

  4. Nintendo-Guy said,

    on January 20th, 2008 at 3:04 am

    This game looks cool. Nice design. Stunt driving with the golfcar ftw!

  5. Dj Demetrius said,

    on January 20th, 2008 at 5:05 am

    Looking good. At last there’s more frequent reviews! I remeber playing an early beta of this game. It’s a cool game, but i can’t remeber, does it have multiplayer?

  6. BillyBobBean said,

    on January 20th, 2008 at 7:52 am

    Gonna give it a try.

    Nice to see a new review so soon.

  7. Wrongfire said,

    on January 20th, 2008 at 12:15 pm

    Looks good, just downloaded it.
    Lack of color will seriously effect how I like it…
    I hate colorlessness.. Hopefully its fun.

  8. .Brain said,

    on January 20th, 2008 at 5:32 pm

    Such a great game, I just wish there was more. I sent the developers an e-mail asking about the status but heard nothing back. I severely hope it hasn’t been abandoned entirely.

  9. Dave said,

    on January 23rd, 2008 at 3:29 pm

    Oh man, I love this game so much. My friends and I have been playing it off and on for ages, and I’ve pretty much given up on it ever being released, which is a huge shame. I especially love that everyone is playing at the same time, without having to wait for everyone else to finish their shots, which you forgot to mention.

  10. Relys said,

    on January 25th, 2008 at 1:58 pm

    Thanks for reminding me! I need to try this on my new computer. (It didn’t work on my old one).

    How long has this game been a “public beta”? Well over a year if I remember correctly.

  11. Muffinmonkey said,

    on January 28th, 2008 at 9:46 am

    I love this game
    I understand the weird, I’m hardly sane myself
    I love the graphics, the grey just makes the colour stand out more
    I love the whole driving to the ball set up
    I love the Cart
    I love the Caddy
    I love Mr Orange
    I love the little flag pole man
    I love getting a hole in one on the final hole
    I love the way you can spend hours on the green
    I love the swing interface
    I love the choice of clubs it gives you
    I love the clubs it chooses for you
    I love the way you don’t just have a disembodied camera but a flying caddy

    I could go on

  12. Budster said,

    on January 30th, 2008 at 1:49 pm

    It’s a pretty fun game, I played it a while ago. ~typed on Wii~

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