John Daly's ProStroke Golf Review (Xbox 360)
I have been off and on with golf games throughout my video gaming career. I started off primarily playing the Tiger Woods series and eventually branched off to others when I got bored.
Hot Shots Golf: Out of Bounds is the best golf game out there right now in my opinion, and I still find myself playing it over Tiger Woods whenever I feel like hitting the links.
That being said, this year we have John Daly’s ProStroke Golf for the PS3, the series’ first installment since ProStroke Golf: World Tour 2007.This game will not wow you with tons of features and big-name golfers like the Tiger Woods series, but it still holds some advantages over EA because of its solid foundation of gameplay and innovation.
The game definitely seems like it was designed for the PlayStation Move, which I do not have. However, it still does play pretty well without it.
As a sports video game fan for years now, I have always said that I would take strong gameplay over presentation any day and that’s why this game is not a complete flop.
When it comes to golf games, there are really two ways to approach the swing. In the old days it started out with a power meter bar for every shot, which was a pretty good representation of the swing but eventually would become too easy over time. Then the era of the analog-stick swinging arrived. This also became pretty easy to master, but it was tougher when attempting a three-quarter swing or half-swing, which is pretty true to life as well.
John Daly’s ProStroke Golf combines the two styles. There is an analog swing as well as a power percentage bar on the bottom of the screen to help with timing when you begin your downward stroke.
The system proves very effective and can be pretty challenging at first. You will find yourself going over 100 percent on your swings and knocking it over the green on more than a couple occasions as you get used to the game. This is only because most people are used to holding the left analog stick down all the way during the back swing, but this game would rather you ease back instead of rushing. In other words, it's more about the pace of your swing. All of these things seem about right in the game as well as real-life golf.
On impact you do not always get a pure straight shot. I really like this because I know that after just a few rounds of Tiger Woods, I’m easily getting perfectly straight drives, which takes the rough completely out of play.
John Daly’s ProStroke Golf seems less forgiving, but at the same time, you’re not left wondering how you messed up a shot -- you can usually tell where you went wrong in your swing. A lot of times it has to do with rushing the shot rather than just going with a calm, smooth swing.
While the basics of the swing in the game are pretty easy to grasp, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. John Daly’s ProStroke Golf has a very in-depth and innovative swing system that involves weight transfer -- if you wish -- and a very realistic way of shaping shots.
Instead of the default caddie view from behind the golfer as he sets up, you can toggle to ProStroke View by pressing X, which gives you the most realistic view for your swing because you see it through the eyes of your golfer. Here is where you can use the right stick for shifting your weight to complement your swing for maximum power on your drives.
If you want to shape shots, you can easily adjust the position of the ball in your stance, as well as your feet, to produce fades, draws, and low- or high-trajectory shots. After a few rounds you will feel completely in control when you approach the tee.
For beginners out there, you can switch on the Shot Shaper option by pressing L2 to get a visual of how your shot will travel if you strike it in the desired way. This is a great feature when trying to get a feel for the game at first, and the game can still be very challenging to play even if it's left on.
The short game can be tough to deal with at first, especially when chipping and pitching around the greens, but the only way to get better at it is to practice (just like real life). Once you get a good feel around the greens, executing cute shots with effective english is very rewarding.
The putting is pretty much like most golf games. You see the green grid and play the break. You can use the Shot Shaper option again at first to get used to how the greens play, but it can get pretty easy to make long putts with this feature on. However, getting the exact right speed is very important for putting in this game and that does help to keep you from nailing a ton of bombs.
There’s not much going on with the presentation in John Daly’s ProStroke Golf. In fact, it’s very bland in comparison to Tiger Woods.
The graphics do not stand out in any way. The characters are all pretty generic looking, including Daly, and swing about the same. You can’t complain much about how the swings look but there’s nothing to write home about either.
The courses are also not anything crazy, and comparing the graphics to Tiger Woods just would not be a fair fight. They are not horrible though, and like I said, give me gameplay over graphics any day.
The announcers are just plain terrible. They are consistently wrong about your shots. Whenever you hit a draw, they call it a slice and vice versa. They also will act like you hit a bad shot even if you drive it right down the pipe. I'm not sure why they are so bad, but hey, at least they’re British.
It is much more enjoyable to play this game while listening to some music or a podcast.
I also don’t care for the camera angles after you hit a shot. The camera tries to keep a broadcast feel rather than following your ball, so you kind of are not sure where your shot will end up until it lands. It can be annoying, but since you can’t control your spin after your shot, it's not a huge deal.
One thing I do like is that you can advance to your next shot extremely quickly. John Daly's ProStroke Golf knows its presentation is not great, so at least the developers give you the ability to quickly zoom through rounds.
There’s not much to choose from when you fire up John Daly’s ProStroke Golf.
You have your tutorials, which will quickly introduce you to the game and how to get started. They do a nice job, and you should be ready to hit the links after about 10 minutes.
Then you basically just have Quick Game mode and a Challenge mode.
In quick game you can just play a round or get a foursome together. You can also do match play, four ball or practice modes.
Then there’s Challenge mode where you compete against John Daly in four areas on each of the 12 different courses. You get a chance to beat John in a long drive, approach shot, putting and then match play for each course.
Once you complete all four of these, you unlock the course and the tournament for the course.
The game really calls this a Career mode, but it’s not like you have a personal player that you’re building attributes for. Every created golfer in the game is the same in terms of skills, but you just have different names and looks, and there’s also one you can edit to look like anything you want.
The challenges against John Daly will get tough pretty early on, so it will take awhile to beat all of the courses. Once you get the hang of shaping your shots and playing the wind, John can be pretty forgiving if you start knocking it stiff all the time.
That’s really it for game modes. John Daly’s ProStroke Golf seems like a game that can just simulate real-life golf pretty well, and it does not do anything fancy other than that. If you’re a hardcore golfer, it will probably be reflected by your performance in the game. It’s not all about being good at math and knowing how to handle the left stick either. If you know the game, you will discover that John Daly’s ProStroke Golf can very entertaining and rewarding.
First off, it’s nearly impossible to find a match online because there’s really no reason to go online. Online play is pretty much what you will get offline in this title. The types of matches you can play are the same, and you can only play with up to three other players.
There are no tournament modes online, which would be nice. If you can find three other people with three extra controllers, you’re going to get the same experience offline. Not a lot of people have the game it seems as it’s pretty hard to find a match online -- or maybe no one sees the point of playing it online.
This game is not going to grab you from the start, but it will grow on you. The gameplay is very realistic, and golfers who love the sport may fall in love with this game.
The replay value here may be worthwhile because it can take awhile to master the game. But while there are 12 course and different golfer models, it is a generic experience beyond the gameplay. So if it’s a new scenery or different swings you’re looking for, go play Tiger Woods.
The game definitely seems like it was made for the PlayStation Move, and it can probably give a pretty realistic impression of what kind of a golfer you are if you use the Move.
This game is definitely intended for the hardcore golf fans, and other than that, it is more of a rent than a buy for the casual golf gamer.
On The Links: I really love the gameplay and find it better and more realistic than Tiger Woods or Hot Shots Golf, but that’s about where the positives for this game end.
Graphics: The graphics in the game can be summed up with one word: generic.
Audio: The only thing saving these announcers from being on the all-time worst list is the fact that they are British.
Entertainment Value: If you’re big into golf, you may love it. Otherwise, I wouldn’t really call it entertaining. But if you like to sit back and relax on a Sunday afternoon and tee it up, then you’re getting a pretty realistic experience.
Learning Curve: There is definitely a solid learning curve in this game. It may take awhile before you’re dominating it and completing all of the challenges. Golf nerds will probably love it, and it will frustrate the newbies.
Online: For those who love playing online in huge tournaments, that’s not happening here. You might as well stay offline and save some time.
Score: 6.5 (Decent)