Hands-on: Let's Golf 2 for iPhone

Gameloft's Let's Golf 2 was recently released for the iPhone and with graphics optimized for the Retina display, new courses, new characters, and new features, this golf game is definitely worth the price.

One of the first games I downloaded when I got my iPhone 3G was Let's Golf and I couldn't believe how good it looked on the small iPhone screen. I was a big fan of Hot Shots golf on PlayStation 2, the console game that Let's Golf seems to be largely based upon, so seeing the familiar graphics and gameplay on the iPhone screen was truly a delight.

About a week ago Gameloft released Let's Golf 2 ($4.99), and it is even more beautiful graphically (optimized for the iPhone 4's Retina display) and adds to the already solid gameplay of the original. The cartoon-like graphics are more detailed in the sequel and you get more of everything that was good about the original--more golfers to unlock, new courses to play on, and extra features to keep the game interesting.

Let's Golf 2
You get an aerial view of each hole before you take your first shot so plan accordingly. (Credit: Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET)

Let's Golf 2 comes with 108 holes to play across six uniquely designed courses, all in dramatic settings. The courses all have their own specific feel, with features like Aztec temples, forest landscapes, snow-covered vistas, and even a Safari-themed course that lets you play rounds in Kenya. But the scenery isn't the only reason you should plunk down $4.99 for this golf game.

In Let's Golf 2, you now have six golfers to choose from (once they are unlocked in career mode), each with a unique ability that becomes available once you make several successful shots in a row. The default character, Vincent, lets you add extra power to a shot once you've filled up the skill meter, for example. Depending on the setting and what hole you're playing, this means you might be able to reach the green in less shots than you would otherwise. The skill for the character named Chris lets you reduce wind speed to zero, which might make an otherwise very difficult shot in strong winds a much easier undertaking.

Let's Golf 2
Customize your character with different outfits, hairstyles, and golf balls to adjust skill points. (Credit: Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET)

The game mechanics are mostly the same as the original: aim your shot by tapping the left or right side of the touch screen; tap once to start your shot; tap again when you reach your desired power; then tap again to hit the ball cleanly (it's much easier than it sounds). But in Let's Golf 2, the designers have reworked the stroke interface to make it a bit easier to get a good shot off and the character-based special skill will help to make your shots even better.

In addition to the character-specific skill upgrades, there are now several more outfits to unlock, each giving you small bonus skills like shot power, accuracy, recovery (better shots from traps), and putting. This means that with the right outfit, hairstyle, sunglasses, and special ball, you can customize a character that's perfect for the challenges of a specific course.

Let's Golf 2
Once the meter is full, hitting the character icon in the upper left activates his special skill (which is followed by an animation). (Credit: Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET)

To round out the feature set, Let's Golf 2 gives you options to play against your friends over shared Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, or an online mode through Gameloft Live. The first two modes worked fine in my testing, but I was never able to find a game in Gameloft Live so perhaps the company is still working out a few kinks. Aside from that issue, in every other way, Let's Golf 2 is a very polished arcade golf game, with plenty of replay value across the many courses and character choices. For more variation, you also can play the Challenge mode that lets you compete in situational minigames--such as longest putt competitions or "Birdie or bust" holes--for better equipment.

Let's Golf 2
Beautiful courses (like Her Majesty\'s Course in England) offer unique challenges to tackle. (Credit: Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET)

Overall, if you liked the original Let's Golf, Let's Golf 2 adds optimized graphics, more courses, more characters with unique skills, and enough features to make it worth the $4.99 price tag. Even if you never played the original, this game will be fun for any golf fan. If the company gets the online component working, maybe I'll see you on the course!

About Jason Parker

Jason Parker has been at CNET for more than 13 years. He is the Senior Editor in charge iOS software and has become an expert reviewer of the software that runs on each new Apple device. He now spends most of his time covering Apple iOS releases and third-party apps.