IGN Review of ProStroke Golf: World Tour 2007
It's Tiger's world, boss. We just work here.
When it comes to golf, and golf games for that matter, there's one undisputed No. 1 player in the world: Tiger Woods. The winner of his last five tournaments -- two of them majors -- Tiger is in top form right now. But that doesn't mean we don't cheer for the underdogs, exciting young players like Sergio Garcia.
It's somewhat appropriate that Garcia fronts the cover of ProStroke Golf: World Tour 2007. Garcia certainly has potential and shows flashes of greatness, but still fails to overtake Tiger when it counts. As such, he pales in comparison to the overall game that Tiger displays. Such is the case with ProStroke.
In ProStroke's defense, the developers are not trying to make a power-button, spin-button, arcade golf shoot-em up. They want to create the most realistic game on the market. In doing so, ProStroke introduces an innovative new control scheme that allows you to control everything from feet position, wrist position, club face position, tempo of backswing and downswing and on down the list. If there's anything you can do in real life outside of sexually harassing the beer cart girl, you can control it in ProStroke.
This is all accomplished by a first-person view that has you looking down at the ball and your virtual feet. Thankfully your virtual belly does not get in the way. To start your backswing as a right handed golfer, simply push the analog stick to the right. Push left when you reach the top of your swing to start the downswing. It's that simple, like Tiger's analog swing turned on its side.
There's a certain trick to the swing, a trick for which the team at Gusto has received acclaim from actual PGA golfers. You can't simply mash right and mash left. A golf swing has tempo, it has timing, it has proper speed. You have to pull back a bit slower. You can't yank the club back. You can't pause at the top of the swing without sacrificing power. Then you have to follow through.
Making the swing even more realistic is weight-shifting, controlled on the left analog stick. As you finish the downswing on the right stick, shift your weight forward on the left stick. If you get the timing just right, you can really power the ball forward. If not, you'll notice that the ball fades or draws depending on if you got your hands through the zone before or after your weight. Like the pros, it pays to work on a draw off the tee for extra distance.
Shaping your shot, like going for a sharp fade on a dogleg, requires you to open your stance a bit, move your wrists back a tad, maybe even open the club face a bit. It's not as intuitive as Tiger's analog control or even that in Golden Tee with the old roller ball, where you pull down in a diagonal direction and roll up in the opposite direction. But this is a golf game for golfers, says Gusto, and knowing how to swing the wrenches will certainly benefit the player. For newcomers to the game, a tutorial will teach you the basics and Gusto hopes that the game could serve as a virtual swing coach in a way. To me, however, newcomers should learn the game on links. And newcomers will have more fun with the more well-rounded Tiger Woods franchise.
On the green, putting is another treat. The control is the same as you try to bring the putter back to a certain power percantage before striking the ball. Reading the green is especially important with a grid ripped straight from Tiger. While most of the greens are simple and flatter than my fifth-grade girlfriend, others will make you want to hit a lob wedge off the green. Although the springy analog sticks make hitting the correct percentage difficult, putting is nonetheless rewarding.
Visually, ProStroke leaves a lot to be desired. Don't be fooled by some of the screenshots. The textures are very rough and a well manicured green may as well be a stretch of asphalt covered in paint. There's really no way to tell your playing on grass. The swing animations when opponents step into the box don't look real at all, not even those of some of the licensed golfers in the game like Garcia and Colin Montgomerie.
Yes, Monty and Garcia and Ben Curtis and Justin Rose and Mark O'Meara and a smattering of other real world golfers made it into ProStroke, but only two licensed courses you may have never heard of are in the game: the The Brabazon at The Belfry and Lake Nona. The rest our fictional courses without much personality. Although they are modeled after real courses I'm sure, if you are going to do a fictional course you may as well have some fun with it.
Sam Torrance, Ian Baker Finch and Alan Green do an adequate job in the broadcast booth, but the relatively dry commentary makes me feel like I'm watching a random Friday on the senior women's tour -- not too much excitement here. Then again, that's the nature of golf commentary and the team doesn't stray far from what you hear on a typical broadcast. Personally, I would prefer a bit more drama and excitement. The music was stolen from a corporate elevator company somewhere in Iowa. Yawn.
In the single-player career mode, you create a golfer, although the options are not very deep in terms of clothing options and player models. Game Face this is not. Basically, you play random event after random event, earning renown points for hitting greens in two on par fives, etc. etc. There are a lot of dates on the calendar, but no fun training events or nothing else to do besides get in a tourney and play. This is fine, but we golfers always want more.
The lack of online play is balanced with a robust course editor, in which you can create impossible mountains with tee box and pin. The interface is a bit tricky at first, but once you are familiar with it you'll enjoy creating interesting courses to share with your friends.
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