Drive Yourself Crazy With Flick Golf Extreme

You know, there's only thing standing between me and the kind of golf score posted by Rory McIlroy at this weekend's U.S. Open, and that's telekinesis. Give me the power to steer my second shot in midair and I'd finally achieve golfing greatness. But no matter how much I wave at the ball, it won't stay on the fairway or sit up on the green.

Flick Golf Extreme, by Full Fat, tries to impart some of this in its closest-to-the-pin challenge, available on iOS devices. In the game, you're trying to land your approach shot as close as possible to the hole, if not in it. The game is played with the iPhone held vertically (it is also compatible with the iPad). A quick swipe from bottom to top sends your shot on its way, with the power you put behind it translating to distance and the trajectory you drew affecting its accuracy.

But it's not just fire-and-forget. Once airborne, you can curve the ball in any direction, even giving it extra distance if you need it. Spin is controlled by swiping in the direction you want to go, and you can do it as much as you want until the ball has bounced three times on the surface. After the ball lands, you're given an accuracy score based on which ring you landed in (or whether you hit the stick or holed out the shot), with bonuses for curve, backspin, topspin, and the like.

It's not any easier than its predecessor, Flick Golf, which released back in December. Extreme gives you a series of holes aboard an aircraft carrier, in a Brazilian rain forest, what appears to be Venice, Italy, and among the rooftops of skyscrapers. I never saw the last course.

The camera is still at too shallow of an angle, so as you follow the ball in flight, it becomes difficult to read where the bottom will suddenly drop out, requiring you to swipe like mad. As a result, most of your ball management (chortle) will take place after it lands, as you're frantically trying to swipe it closer to the center of the bull's-eye. Too often, I found myself over-swiping, though, ending up on a 400 or 300 point ring when I would have landed on the red bull's eye had I just been a little more patient. In about 300 shots across all game modes, I got the damned ball in the hole just once.

It's unfortunate because Flick Golf otherwise is a game that would keep me coming back repeatedly. Instead, its inscrutable landing camera makes racking up the points necessary to unlock the last course extremely difficult. In 90 minutes, most players will feel like they've explored as much as they'll ever hope to see in the game. And for the $2.99 price, that's a bit tough to take. Its newest gameplay mode, "Five Ball" (five untimed shots, rack up as many points) is not much better than the brutally tough "Quickshot Pro" of the first game. The third course required me to hit 10,000 points in five shots. Given that a perfect shot from midair would net you 1,000 points (with no spin or curve bonus), you're required to fire on the green from all sorts of weird angles just to create a curve bonus, and even then, I gave up in frustration.

Had Full Fat adjusted its-flight camera and/or lowered the thresholds to unlock the later courses, this could have been a best-in-class sports minigame. Instead, what you're really getting is five new courses and some new presentation for three times the price. If closest-to-the-pin challenges and flick gameplay appeal to you, you're better off with Flick Golf, which is just 99 cents.

Flick Golf Extreme [iTunes App Store]