ProStroke Golf - World Tour 2007 REVIEW

ProStroke Golf - World Tour 2007 Review (PS2)

I spent four days in September on a golf outing with my father, my uncle and my older brother on one of the most beautiful courses that the Upper Peninsula of Michigan has to offer. Although rain shortened our plans to get in 54 holes in three days, we did manage to play 36 in between trips to the casino and eating like kings. Lucky for me, I had more luck in the poker room then I did on the links. I took a hearty beating on our first 18, when we played every man for himself ,and an even more embarrassing spanking on the second day when we played teams – the young against the old.

A few things stood out to me after that trip up north. Try as I might, I suck at golf. I love the game. I love the time outdoors. I love the social aspects of the game. But the core concept of “put white ball in slightly larger hole with as few swings as possible” is Greek to me. Mark Twain was right when he called golf “a good walk spoiled.”

The other thing that really jumped out at me was how very different each golfer is. While there may technically be a right way to golf, there really isn’t a wrong way. Everyone seems to have a different approach, a unique backswing and a personalized follow-through. Even if the results are the same, the path can be so very different.

The team at Oxygen Interactive is attempting to capture those subtle nuances in golf with the release of ProStroke Golf – World Tour 2007 on most of the major gaming platforms. They decided to break down the elements of a swing and of ball striking and attempt to build that control into a golf game. They would forgo power boosts and super spins in an attempt to make golf real. They are attempting to add to the growing market of golf games, by releasing a golf game for golfers. Novel idea, right? But, is it worth a swing?

You’ll find right out of the box on all platforms that ProStroke Golf – World Tour 2007 is banking on it’s controls and attempts to better simulate real golf to be the selling point of its title. The level of control that you are given, at first, actually comes off as a little bit daunting. It’s not just the grip-it-and-rip-it style that we’ve become so accustomed to in other golf titles. This title forces you to think more about positions, shifting your weight, and proper ball striking above and beyond anything else. Trust me, it sounds a lot more complex then it actually is. The learning curve is not as steep as you might think when you first fire it up.

It’s really an aggressive approach to bringing "sim" into golf. They’ve even included a very slick first-person view to help you address the ball properly. Although, PC users be warned, you have to have a game pad to utilize it.

The gameplay itself plays a very solid 18 holes. I found both the PS2 and PC version to be a nice challenge. As with any game, the more you play, the better you’ll get, but there’s certainly life in the game. Unfortunately, a nice game of golf is not always the only thing that matters.

I was disappointed to find that there was actually more I didn’t like about ProStroke Golf – World Tour 2007 then I did like. As much as I liked their concepts and the depth of the controls, it was almost like having a really good grammar in a really poorly written book.

For starters, the game is really lacking visually. I’m not a graphics snob by any stretch of the imagination. However, certain games need to meet at least a certain level of graphics to make the experience work. In a golf game, I should at least be able to get some sense of depth and lie by looking at the screen. Not here. There was very, very little to differentiate between the cuts on the course.

The player models were really no better. They were very stiff and did nothing to attempt to add lifelike expressions of mannerisms. It was almost creepy at times. I want the game that plays the best, but the graphics on both platforms were a huge black eye for this title. Even the PC version, where graphics have always been king, were only marginally better then you can get on today’s handhelds.

Sadly, the audio is really no better. It may actually be worse. To call the commentary, provided by Sam Torrance, Allan Green and Ian Baker-Finch, lifeless, is actually an insult to the lifeless. There’s no personality. No sense of timing or drama. It’s just plain vanilla noise. Don’t worry though, you’ll at least be distracted from the pointless clapping that you’ll hear from the gallery (that you can’t see). They clap for everything. Good shot? Clap. Bad shot? Clap. Pitch on? Clap. In the sand? Clap. Why?

I also found the course design to be downright bizarre. There are over a dozen courses, although only two of them appear to be real courses. The fictitious ones were downright strange. I found 400-yard Par 3s and super short Par 5s. It almost seemed like a glitch; it didn’t seem possible that they were built that way intentionally. One plus - there is a course designer that allows you to add some level of realism to a list of courses that sorely lacks it.

The modes of play are your pretty standard fare. They do have a Career mode, where your goal is to get to the top of the money list over the course of multiple seasons. However, I could not find a way to just golf by myself. I had an AI “opponent” with me at all times, and I couldn’t figure out a way to get rid of him or even skip forward. That got old for me real quick.

I thought some online play might spice it up, but it isn’t available on the PS2. You will find it in the PC version, but it is not user-friendly to find matches, and, at the time of this review, there were very few people even playing the game. Perhaps a few weeks on the market could change that, but I don’t see it as likely.

I give ProStroke Golf – World Tour 2007 points for innovation. You know me; I’m a sucker for trying new things in sports gaming. But, the new controls do not come close to making up for what is essentially a poorly-made game. I think the franchise has a chance if they spend some time working on the rest of the game this year and just fine-tune the controls. But, I can’t in good conscience recommend this game for purchase unless you really want an alternative to EA's Tiger Woods series. The controls are certainly worth a try, but even at the low price point, it’s just not enough.

ProStroke Golf - World Tour 2007 Score
out of 10