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PC Review - 'ProStroke Golf World Tour 2007'

by Tim McCullough on April 14, 2007 @ 5:15 a.m. PDT

ProStroke Golf offers a faithful and immersive simulation of the world's most challenging sport. Players must put their skill, stamina and mental agility to the test in Match Play, against their friends or in the comprehensive career mode.

Genre: Sports
Publisher: Oxygen Interactive
Developer: Gusto Games
Release Date: September 5, 2006

Attempting to go up against not just one, but several, well-established golfing games is like sinking a hole-in-one off a par-four tee: improbable, but not impossible. Even with poor odds, it is always good to see the additional competition, especially when it can give the leaders a run for their money.

ProStroke Golf World Tour 2007 offers players a full-featured golfing simulation including training, quick play, tournament play, career mode and network play. Additionally, by utilizing the easy-to-use course designer, you can create new courses to supplement the 18 courses which are included with the game. The A.I. allows you to play tournaments against 68 different players, at least seven of which are licensed pro players, each with varying levels of difficulty. In almost all play modes, announcers provide fairly accurate, although somewhat repetitive, play-by-play commentary. Additional game features include shot replay, optional mulligans (redo) and tap-ins, and variable season and weather options. The game comes on a single CD and is accompanied by an 11-page instruction booklet.

ProStroke Golf World Tour 2007 offers several different single-player modes, either playing solo or against computer opponents. Training mode is similar to other golf games in that you walk through all of the different elements of setting up and controlling your shots. The quick play mode will allow you to quickly set up a game without worrying about setting up computer players. In career mode, you will be given a calendar of events, along with statistics for your profile, including the money list and current standings. Tournaments are only open to you as you successfully increase your ranking and renown; in addition to tournaments, you are given free days to pursue your own challenges. Tournament mode is an easy way to play in a single-player definable ladder tournament.

You have control over settings to change the season, weather, wind and A.I. difficulty levels. In between shots, there are usually two to three camera cut scenes which can be skipped easily, so the general flow of the game is kept at a relatively pleasing pace. The scorecard is displayed at the end of each hole while the next hole is loaded. When your ball is in flight through the air, it exhibits a tail to assist with following its flight path. As you play in the various game modes, you have the opportunity to earn "renown" points by meeting special conditions, ranging from longest distance drives to shortest strokes to the green. Increasing your renown will allow you to participate in larger tournaments when playing in the career game mode.

Game controls are fairly easy to master in a short amount of time. You can use the keyboard, a gamepad/joystick controller, or a combination of keyboard and mouse to play ProStroke Golf World Tour 2007. The swing paradigm is similar to other golf games and consists of a two-point selection process based on time. In addition to a standard swing mode, you have the ability to execute a power swing, which is a bit tricky because the range of one of the swing points is significantly reduced. If your timing is even slightly off when executing a power swing, you will usually just top the ball, resulting in a shot distance of around 15 yards or so.

An interesting information feature in ProStroke Golf World Tour 2007 comes in the form of a graphical indicator called the Shot Shaper, which evaluates all adjustments prior to your swing. The Shot Shaper will you give some indication of the distance, height and spin based on foot placement, open or closed club face, etc.

When putting, you will only need to worry about your putting strength. I could not find a way to adjust where I was putting, and the two-stroke paradigm is reduced to one (selecting your putting strength). Green terrain is identified using a box grid, which is made up of light trace lines which move in different directions to identify differences in the topography. It takes some getting used to, but it does seem to be useful when setting up your putt. I personally would have liked to have had a greater level of control during the short game; it feels a bit awkward going from a detailed, highly adjustable long game to an abbreviated putting scheme.

In-game graphics in ProStroke Golf World Tour 2007 are not photo-realistic, although they are normally detailed, crisp and pleasing to the eye. Before each shot, you are treated with a flyby of the entire hole. Additional multiple angled cut scenes before and after gameplay add a professional television-type quality to the game. In-game texturing is well done, with course areas clearly defined, including rough areas where overgrown grass is realistically rendered. To my eyes, this looked much better than what is normally found in some of the more popular golf games.

On the downside, once in a while cut scenes are obscured by trees and other foliage. There are also times when the graphics will become blocky (when zooming in on trees) and shimmering (when viewing from a great distance). ProStroke Golf's opening visuals and menus could use some polishing as well. I found the opening screens to be fuzzy and the menus seemed to be a bit bare for my liking. As for the game's sound, I found both the music and the outdoor sound effects to be well implemented and appropriate.

After growing tired of the 18 included courses, you have the ability to use the built-in course designer to customize or create your own courses from scratch. The course designer is fairly easy to master in just a short period of time; I had no problems creating my own challenging course in under an hour.

Two modes of network play are available when you want to compete against other players over the internet or a local LAN. In lobby mode, you can host or join a multiplayer game on your local network; with an I.P. game, you can play over the Internet by specifying the I.P. address of the game host. Mulligans and A.I. players are disabled in the multiplayer modes. ProStroke Golf World Tour 2007 does not offer or use any match-making services so all Internet-based games need to be prearranged and require the manual exchange of I.P. addresses prior to connection.

When you consider the amount of competition ProStroke Golf World Tour 2007 is up against and the considerable amount of development that has gone into some of the older golfing game titles, it fares pretty well. The swing system is just about as complex and variable as possible, without becoming overwhelming or cumbersome to use. I would have liked to see an equally strong putting system in place, but this part seems to have been oversimplified. Some basic graphics cleanup and styling improvements could help this title enormously. If you are an avid golfing gamer who enjoys playing some of lesser-known world courses, you might want to consider ProStroke Golf World Tour 2007 as a supplement to your library of golf titles.

Score: 6.5/10

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