Fore! No, that's not our review score, although it's not far off
Funny things, golf games. The majority of us wouldn't be seen dead on a golf course, walking lengthy distances between each shot, usually in the early hours of the morning, dragging a bag of heavy clubs behind us. Yet throw Tiger Woods and his crew into videogame land, and suddenly we're more than happy to land on that green and go for a birdie.
John Daly is the latest professional golfer to get his own game with John Daly's Prostroke Golf, and while the Playstation Move functionality is definitely headed in the right direction, the rest of the content isn't so spot on. Menus are awkward, progression is stifling and Mr Daly himself is made out to be some kind of evil genius, repeating insults with every shot you take. It's just a game, John! Calm down!
Lovely day for a spot of golf, wouldn't you say?
John Daly's Prostroke Golf puts an invisible golf club in your hands and an invisible ball on your living room floor, then asks you to whack it down the green. The idea is to stand as if you were actually going to hit a real golf ball, swing and 'hit' the golf ball. Initially it feels a little silly, but over time you begin to forget that there's nothing there and become sucked into play.
Hitting the ball is a genuinely great feeling, be it a huge strike or a controlled putt. The power and elevation on the ball can all be altered depending oh how you stand, where the ball is and how you hit it, and the one-to-one precision adds plenty to this sense of immersion. You really are hitting that invisible ball, and don't let anyone tell you otherwise!
Making a long putt to the hole or escaping from a bunker feels similarly life-like too. You'll need a hard, chipping motion to get out of the sand and back into play, and putting involves lining up the shot, watching where the practice line, then giving it a quick tap. John Daly's Prostroke Golf is not going to teach you to play real golf, but if you have no intention of doing the real thing, this may well be the next best step.
Unfortunately, while the golfing itself is nicely implemented, the way in which it's all presented is well so. Looking around the course during play is an absolute pain, with each button on the Move controller given some random camera-shifting task. Practising shots and then checking where the ball would end up is made extremely difficult, and moving your perferred destination around is far too sensitive.
Interfaces and menus swoop around the screen in a rather slick fashion, but are so incredibly awkward to navigate, as the majority of them require you use a combination of Move controller and regular controller. Given that the golfing sections of the game use only the Move, it seems a little odd that the menus require you pick up your PS3 controller - surely a more point and select route would have sufficed.
*cough* CHOKE *cough*
However, the biggest problem with Prostroke Golf is the horribly linear progression. There are plenty of challenges and tournaments to play through, and yet when you begin the game, only three challenges are unlocked - that's all the content you have. You must then complete these three challenges, which in turn unlocks a fourth challenge. Complete this, and one tournament is unlocked. Beat this tournament, and some new challenges are unlocked. Repeat until fin.
This all wouldn't be too bad were it not for the fact that John Daly's Prostroke Golf is initially very difficult to get into. The challenges involve going up against the man himself, and he is merciless with his golfing, destroying you with every chance he gets. You'll eventually build up the skills to beat him, but for the first hour or two you'll most likely be stuck doing those same three challenges over and over again.
You can partially see where Gusto Games is coming from with this set-up - obviously later levels get tougher, and so it's a good time to build up your skills now - but come on, surely there's a better way to get me used to the game's controls rather than the 'do this challenge over and over until you get it right' angle. Hilariously, if you fail the same challenge a few times in a row, John will let you know that he's seen progress in you and let you move on anyway.
John isn't exactly the helpful tutor you'd hope him to be either. We're sure that in real life he's a perfectly decent gentlemen, but in the game he's ruthless and enjoys reminding you how much more skilled he is that yourself. And he does this all the damn time, with every single shot you make. Even when you make the perfect swing, he'll state that it was good, but he's going to do better.
Onto the green in one! Eat that, Daly
If Mr. Daly had some extra lines of dialogue this would be fair enough - plenty of games attempt to pump personality into proceedings with a few lines of spoke dialogue - but after a few hours of Daly-based torment, you'll want to reach into the screen and bash his face in with your Move controller.
JOHN DALY'S PROSTROKE GOLF VERDICT
John Daly’s Prostroke Golf is a great display of how the Move controller can be implemented, and has officially made us excited about what the future of Move holds. At the same time, it also barrages us with how not to make a game. It’s all very well and good providing a decent golfing experience, but wrapping it in a flimsy menu system and restricting our play options so badly is quite the turn-off.
TOP GAME MOMENT
Successfully making a long putt, then rubbing it in John Daly’s face.