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A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Winning Putt is a downloadable free-to-play multiplayer online game that has no subscription requirement but does have micropayments available in the store to enhance your character with better clubs and clothes. The gameplay is fairly simple but, as with real golf, does take practice to master. While there's no objectionable content, parents should also take note that the game facilitates open live chat between players, so the potential for inappropriate discussions or sharing of personal information is possible.
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What's it about?
WINNING PUTT is an online 3-D golf simulator that incorporates character development, level, and stat progress set in a realistic-looking world. You start off by creating a golfer who will represent you on the links. Upon entering the world, you're given a caddy who imagines that you have zero knowledge of golfing and takes you on a seven-step tutorial to familiarize you with the game. Once you've mastered the basics, you're dropped off at the clubhouse, allowed to roam around to decide for yourself how to proceed by playing a lot of golf across various modes. Your eventual goal is to improve, level up, earn gold and platinum, and buy improvements for your gear so you can do much better on courses and against other players around the world.
Is it any good?
This multiplayer online sports game is a beautiful golf simulator, but it only works best in small doses. The courses are very well done, each providing their own unique challenges while keeping the spirit of golfing alive. Its role-playing game (RPG) elements enhance the experience by allowing you to develop your golfer to suit your particular golfing style. With plenty of courses to play, you're never without new challenges, and the number of challenging ways to play either solo or competitively with friends or random strangers will keep you busy. While there's a microtransaction system, gameplay is balanced enough that players who just want the free experience never have to rely upon buying gear. With daily quests and challenges, someone can take their time and earn most of the items available to be purchased. But there's a real issue when you're playing against other gamers on the same level as you who have clearly thrown down lots more cash to gain an advantage for a round or a tournament; it cuts down on how much fun you'll have in a match.
In some ways, this feeds into one of the worst elements of play, which is the constant grind of matches in the pursuit of newer, better gear. Since this is a sports game, it can be argued that you'd be doing this anyway, but it's this singular gameplay element that makes the action feel a bit shallow. The same can be said about the skill required to make shots on the green: The three-click mechanic, while nothing new for golf games, feels a bit more simplistic than in other titles. As a result, once you're used to it, making shots becomes extremely easy to do. Winning Putt is an enjoyable game and is fun as far as free-to-play games go, but it's best only in short sessions.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about privacy and Internet safety. Why is it important to make sure you're having safe and appropriate conversations when chatting in an online game, especially a game as seemingly safe and leisurely as online golf? What could the danger be in sharing too much information?
Discuss the dangers of getting pulled into microtransactions. Why do you think companies try to get players hooked on paying real cash for items that can be earned over a prolonged period of time?
- Platforms: Windows
- Pricing structure: Free (Game is free to download and play, but does include a shop where you can purchase upgrades to your clubs, balls, and clothes with real money transactions.)
- Available online? Available online
- Developer: Brandai Namco
- Release date: January 14, 2016
- Genre: Sports
- Topics: Sports and Martial Arts
- ESRB rating: NR for No Descriptions
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