Reviewed: October 24, 2010
Released: October 5, 2010
Interestingly enough Iíve had the pleasure of doing two PS3 golf game reviews side by side this past week. In one corner we have the defending champ, Tiger Woods, but coming out strong in the other corner is Jonh Dalyís ProStroke Golf for the PS3 and featuring Move support. For those of you who have already read my Tiger review, youíll know that I didnít think too highly of the last-minute and problematic implementation of the Move inputs, but John Daly seems to get it right, or at least better, but at the sacrifice of what many might consider some deal breakers when it comes to next-gen game design.|
The feature that has always made John Dalyís golf game more sim than game is the ProStroke control mode that does an amazing job of duplicating your stance and swing bringing your real-world golf game into the virtual one, and with the inclusion of Move support, that realism is better than it ever could be with simple analog stick controls. There are so many variables being analyzed by the PlayStation Eye camera that youíll be amazed at just how accurately you can hook and slice your shots or drop your ball in the lake or a bunker with an errant twist of the wrist.
I have become so used to watching my golfer from behind the shot that I was surprised and immersed to find that the game actually swings from the true first-person perspective of looking down at the ball. Itís so realistic that I found myself staring down at the floor at some imaginary ball while swinging an invisible club, which is probably what you should be doing. You can adjust your stance and position of your feet on either side of the ball and the slightest twist of the wrist is reflected in real-time with the onscreen clubface.
Iíll admit, I had some trouble at first, especially with getting a full swing off the tee or subsequent fairway shots. The Wii has left me with several bad habits, mostly, that I can make wimpy arcade movements and rip 300yd tee shots. Not so in ProStroke golf. If you want to crush the ball you need to make a full backswing and follow-through with just as much power and accuracy as you would on the real course.
A problem Iíve had with all motion-input golf games on Wii and even Tiger on the PS3 with Move is the game's ability to interpret the strength of my shot. It makes hitting a 65% PW shot as well as a tippy-tap 5Ē putt impossible, but John Daly somehow managed to get it right. It takes practice to get the feel down, but you donít need to rely on power meters or other gaming tricks to play this game. Itís very real and very natural once you come to grips that this is a sim and not a game. To further distance itself from being a game you donít have all those fancy gimmicks like focus or unnatural post-shot spin or mid-air angle adjustments. You plan and make your shot and leave it to physics and the natural elements as to what happens next.
Iím guessing anybody who buys John Daly's ProStroke Golf will do so because of the Move support, and rightly so. Itís the best golf game on the PS3 so far that supports the new controller, but to be fair I played a few rounds with the DualShock 3 just to get a feel for how the game played as a "normal" videogame. I found it all too easy to fall back into those bad gaming habits of relying on meters and fine tuning variable to make the perfect shot. Itís still fun as a game, but when you level the playing field as far as controls, Tiger Woods is going to be your better ďgameĒ option.
There isnít much in gameplay modes or even any fun mini-game, which would have gone a long way in getting new players used to the Move controls and easing them into more realistic golf. Instead, we get a Quick Game mode, a Challenge Mode, or you can go Online and realize that nobody is playing this game online. Perhaps they arenít confident in their skills yet to go public or perhaps I'm the only one playing. The Challenge mode is disappointing since there are no licensed events or PGA schedule. EA must have those licenses all wrapped up. Youíll get a set of challenges that culminate in a single tournament finale, but it is a far cry from an actual career mode.
I did enjoy the tutorials, which made it seem like I was getting a private lesson from John himself. Youíll learn everything from putting and approach play to the world famous Long John drive itself. It wonít be long before these games will actually improve our real-world golf game. I was also a big fan of the menus and interface screens that could be used fully with just the Move motion controller wand alone.
The game is very much last-gen when it comes to graphics. At best, it could pass for a PS3 launch title but itís just not that pretty. There are 12 courses that offer a variety of settings and unique challenges. The environments and textures are acceptable while the spectators are rather plain. Some effects like the splash of a ball going into a lake are laughably bad. The golfer models are very primitive, both in texture detail and even animations. And donít even get me started on the in-game advertising, both in the menu and on posters all around the tee box. I have this odd compulsion to go buy Predators on Blu-ray all of the sudden. Perhaps it is this in-game advertising that allowed Gusto to release the game at a discount price of only $50. I admit Iím curious to see how often they update these ads and what is coming next.
The sound design had me laughing so hard that I could barely swing a virtual club. Not that it was bad sound design, but that the insults that Sam Torrance and Peter Kessler were dishing out after every one of my horribly bad shots grew funnier and funnier and they seldom repeated. These guys must have spent hours in the studio doing line reads for insults knowing full well that people were going to have a steep learning curve with the Move controls. Their actual commentary was surprisingly accurate and they did offer some encouraging words when I finally made some good shots. The environments werenít that immersive and the crowd noises were disappointed, sounding like they got 4 or 5 people from the office to ďgolf clapĒ around a microphone and maybe whistle or cheer a bit. There were several incidences where the sound of my actually striking the ball would fail to play leaving me to wonder if I had missed it entirely.
I was surprised that there was no golf game, arcade or otherwise, bundled with the PS Move. Sure, you have Frisbee Golf but thatís not real golf. Tiger Woods made a valiant last-minute attempt to tack on Move support with a patch, but John Dalyís ProStroke Golf seems to be the only golf game to get it right as far as recreating a realistic golf stance and swing using the Move device Ė a rare treat for real-life golfers. Sadly, that is the gameís only strength, so if you arenít going to be playing with Move then youíre better off with the more feature-rich and entertaining Tiger Woods.