Turbo Golf Racing Review – PC & PS5

It’s been almost two years since I first played and reviewed the Early Access version of Turbo Golf Racing on PC, and while I did play for several months after that, it eventually got replaced with other casual arcade games to fill in my pockets of free time.  I was pretty excited to come back to this addictive sports/racing hybrid and see what the final product had in store – quite a bit actually.  It has been almost a year since I’ve played Turbo Golf Racing, but the instant that opening theme music started playing there was a wash of memories, nearly a hundred hours of insane golfing action before the game had even launched came rushing back.

Turbo Golf Racing offers up a few ways to play starting with the standard 8-player race where everyone is racing down the fairway trying to knock their ball in the hole the fastest.  Aside from a few specialty power-ups like lock-on missiles, you cannot interact with other players’ vehicles or their balls, which adds some clever Mario Kart-style strategy to what items to keep and when to use them.  Time Trials is your basic beat-the-clock challenge where you can earn up to three stars for faster times.  These trials take place on the same holes from the race mode, so mastering them here is a great way to dominate the leaderboards in other modes.

Those were the two modes available the last time I played Turbo Golf Racing back in Early Access, so I was extremely curious to check out the new Online Golf mode.  It only took a few games to realize that this mode just wasn’t for me.  Aside from the “tee shot” they always start your car at some off-angle to the ball, and you are on a shot clock, so you only have seconds to line-up and take your shot.  Being a car rather than a bag of clubs there is no club selection for distance, so it’s like playing the entire game with a 7-iron.  There is a cool power dash move for additional yardage, but most of the time the ball never seems to go as far as you think it should, and most of the people in my leaderboards were all shooting 8s and 9s, so nobody was feeling good about themselves.  I’m glad this mode exists, but it definitely needs some more work before it will tempt me away from my racing.

Also, somewhere in the past year they have added over 50 new levels, bringing the total to 80+ wonderfully imaginative courses and hole layouts with various themed environments and fairways that curve and twist their way to the hole with natural hazards like tall grass, rocks, and sand mixed with game-altering boosts like speed pads for your car and boost rings for your ball.  Mastering these time-saving devices are crucial in locking down those winning times.  The holes still use colors to designate their length, and a new orange category has been added with some extra-long holes to navigate.

Vehicle choice is limited when you start, but you do unlock new vehicles through normal level-up progression. Regardless of your finishing position you will still earn XP and Gears during each match; the former increasing your level and earning you a prize at each tier, while the latter is used as currency for the in-game store where you can buy visual upgrades for your car, ball, and other flashy effects.  As I feared and expected, there is a more robust storefront in the game, trying to get you to spend more money on specialty cosmetics.  Thankfully, none of these items impact gameplay and for thrifty gamers such as myself, the cash part of the store is easily ignored.  There is still plenty to buy with Gears and Cups earned through gameplay, and the selection rotates every few hours in multiple store sections.

Nearly all of the upgrades are visual in nature; a new paint job, a flashy spoiler, or a dangerous looking plow for the front of the vehicle to knock the ball around.  Some upgrades (Cores) do offer limited performance boosts, but these are nicely balanced with their own negative effects; like increasing your boost speed at the cost of slowing down how fast the meter refills.  You have passive cores that influence the entire game and optional active cores that need to be triggered by the player.  Some of these like the grapple and the ground pound can really send your ball flying at the expense of accuracy while sticking the ball to your car with glue offers amazing control…for a moment.    Basically, the entire game is about the skill of the player and not the capabilities of the car, but it is still fun to mix and match up to two Cores per vehicle and see how it affects your game.

Presentation is top-quality with simple menus, fun car designs with clever animations that almost makes them seem to dance to the fun songs that make up the soundtrack, and visually distinct parts for your shopping pleasure.  The same D-pad chat system found in Rocket League has been adapted for this game but uses adorable emoticons rather than text phrases.  Matchmaking is reasonably fast, averaging 30 seconds to assemble eight players of which 2-3 almost always “disconnect” before it’s over.  There are three holes per match, each ranging from seconds to minutes to finish based on length and complexity.  You’re awarded points based on your finishing position, and the sum of all three holes determines the winner.

Controls are excellent, at least when playing with a gamepad, and Turbo Golf Racing “feels” exactly like Rocket League with the same turbo, e-brake, drift, and jump mechanics.  There are fun “secrets” to figure out like getting a boost off the starting line or flipping your car to create a momentary shield to protect from a rocket attack.  The game does require more precision than Rocket League.  In that game you just hit the ball in the general direction of the net and there was a chance it would go in.  Here, you are going to need to hit the ball 10-20 times or more just to get it to the hole, so each shot needs to be accurate otherwise you end up chasing the ball around.  You can toggle an aiming line for a preview of where the ball will go, and there is also a ball-lock where the camera will keep the ball and your car in view.

Up until now, everything I have discussed for the PC version is identical to the PlayStation 5 version, which also released when the PC version of Turbo Golf Racing came out of Early Access.  I was excited to see if there was going to be any special use of the PS5 capabilities, especially the controller, but there were no obvious differences between PS5 and PC, at least nothing I can pinpoint.  Whether it was due to motion blur or perhaps a dynamic resolution to maintain 60fps, the PS5 version felt softer and not as crisp as my PC.  I also noticed those 30 second matchmaking times were now taking 50-70 seconds on PS5 (same wired router).  The PC was giving me a matchmaking error once every 5-7 attempts where the PS5 was showing that same message once every 3-4 attempts.   I had cross-play activated on both PC and PS5, although I did try several times to do a PS5-Only match with no success.  I’m also not sure how the system logos work, as I have NEVER seen another PlayStation logo next to any name but mine.  The same on PC where I am the only Steam logo, and everyone else is either a blue or green PC or a gear.

It was nice to return to Turbo Golf Racing after nearly a year break.  It only took a few games before I fell back into my groove, and it was fun to play with all my loot from past seasons – the game even found and popped a trophy for owning 100 items the minute it started.  Even if I wasn’t personally feeling it, the new golf mode has potential, but for me it’s all about the racing and those time trial challenges.  Sadly, progression and rewards are system specific, so all my cool loot on the PC is unavailable on PS5…until I earn it all back.

Author: Mark Smith
I've been an avid gamer since I stumbled upon ZORK running in my local Radio Shack in 1980. Ten years later I was working for Sierra Online. Since then I've owned nearly every game system and most of the games to go with them. Not sure if 40+ years of gaming qualifies me to write reviews, but I do it anyway.

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