The players in Out of Bounds may be anime caricatures that gleam like Crisco-slathered Barbie dolls, but don’t be fooled by their looks (or the cutesy victory dances and temper tantrums that accompany birdies and bogeys). In every significant way—reproducing the subtleties of golf and the influence of random atmospheric conditions—this is a more complete simulation of the game than the aggressively photorealistic Tiger Woods PGA Tour 08.
Out of Bounds is the fifth iteration in the HSG series, and while the games have always been a blast to play with human opponents, the real fun of the series is winning new equipment and gaining access to additional players by going solo against the courses and the elements. The PGA games long ago abandoned the “three-click” swing in favor of a more supposedly realistic thumbstick-based approach, and HSG’s devotion to traditional mechanics has earned the series a slight rep for stodginess. Out of Bounds retains the old-school swing but introduces an “advanced” technique, also button-based, in which your character’s body language, rather than a power meter, determines the force of a shot. It makes the early courses (there are six all told) more challenging for seasoned players, in addition to letting rookies quickly develop their understanding of deeper strategic elements. You don’t have to be obsessed with the sport to be a golf-game junkie, and for those who’ve been itching for a worthy next-generation golf game since the current console cycle began in 2006, Out of Bounds is well worth the wait.