Review: John Daly’s Pro Stroke Golf (PS3)

John Daly’s Pro Stroke Golf
Developer: Gusto Games
Publisher: O-Games
Released: 10/05/10
Genre: Golf Sim

John Daly’s a pretty well known guy in the world of Professional Golf. He’s not Tiger Woods, but if you can’t get Tiger he’s not the worst guy in golf if you want name recognition. Even I’ve heard of him, and I’m not exactly Mr. PGA tour supporter. So lets see how well the game came out. Hole in one? Eagle? Or Triple Bogey?

Modes:

Pro Stroke Golf is not affiliated with the PGA. That is to say that the game does not bear the seal of the PGA, so the game does not feature a tour or any of the Major tournaments. Instead the game gives you twelve courses on which you can compete in tournaments of varying lengths. Before you can play in these tournaments you have to unlock the course by defeating John Daly in four separate events per course. You have to out drive him, get the ball closer to the hole on approach, out putt him and lastly beat him over the course of 9 holes. For every course. If you can’t beat him after four tries the game “might” feels sorry for you and let you into the tournament anyway. I would have preferred it if the developers had just gone with a qualifying tournament that allowed me to play in every course immediately, or barring that, forcing me to finish in at least 5th place or so in order to move on to the next course, rather than forcing me to defeat John Daly 48 times before I could say I had access to every course in the game.

You can also play a quick tournament with up to 3 of your friends or AIs and you can play online. Some of the match types you can expect to find include Strokeplay, Matchplay, Foursomes and a variation of Foursomes called Fourball. Foursome and FourBall cannot be played unless you have another actual person playing with you, as there can be no AI partners. Lastly there is a tutorial mode narrated by John Daly which is useful for learning how to get around in the game and to give you an idea of how your shots should look.

Sound:

As golf tournaments on television are generally pretty quiet events, I’d say it should be easy to create an atmosphere that mimics a presentation very well. You would have the announcers, the crowd, the sound effects and maybe some background music. John Daly’s Pro Stroke Golf proves that thought to be pretty accurate. The game has two announcers who broadcast their thoughts on the various shots in game, the audience which politely cheers and claps when appropriate, the sound effects of the ball being struck and landing, and the background music which plays at the beginning of a round and at various other times as well. You also have moments of quiet which are only disturbed by birds chirping and wind blowing. I’d say the developers did a very good job of producing a sound scape which would make people think they were out on a golf course even if they couldn’t see the screen. Unfortunately they also made liberal use of the few lines the announcers recorded. You won’t have to wait very long until you start to hear them say the same things over and over.

During the portions of the game where you must compete with John Daly personally, he will tell you something just before you shoot and after the shot is taken. Again though, the way the game is set up you will hear every single line John recorded a huge number of times.

Graphics:

Pro Stroke Golf is not what you’d call the prettiest game in the world, but it’s not ugly by any stretch. OK, the golf attire would be an exception to that comment. I don’t know how grown men could possibly agree to wear anything like that stuff. My one major complaint would be that the putting green would often be so bright it was difficult to see the ball, particularly on the “sunny” days in game. This would not be such a major issue if the game weren’t insisting on giving a television style presentation, showing different camera angles and then replays of those angles for many of your shots.

Gameplay/Controls:

Being Move compatible, you can play John Daly’s Pro Stroke Golf in two ways. You can play using the Move Wand and you can play using the Dualshock 3. Each offers it’s own quirks, and the game is enjoyable when playing with either method.

When playing using the Move, the game forces you to use the “Pro Stroke” overhead view of your shot, which is basically what you would see if you were looking down at the ball, on the course. You see the ball, where your feet are positioned, where the club is, and then on the edges of the screen you will see other information, like what the wind conditions are like and so forth. You can press a button on the wand to look up at where the hole is, and you can press another button to have the camera travel directly to the hole so you get an idea of what you are shooting at, and a rough estimation of how hard you are going to have to swing in order to get the ball to the hole. You can aim the shot by pointing the Move wand at the point on the screen where you want the ball to go. Then when you are ready to swing you just aim the wand at an imaginary golf ball on your floor, wind up and let it fly like you would a real golf club. Handy tip here….wear the strap on your wand. You like your TV right? Why break it?

Playing using the Dual Shock gives the player far more control. With the Dual Shock, Pro Stroke mode goes from a way to see the ball to a way to attack the golf course. You can position your feet using the d-pad and shift your weight while swinging the club using the right analogue stick. Swinging the club itself is accomplished by using the left analogue stick. When in Pro Stroke mode you swing it from left to right as a Lefty or right to left as a Righty. You can also play using the Caddie view if you choose, which is from behind your golfer. This allows you to see the full swing of your club, and is the more common view for people who have played golf games before. When in this mode you pull back and push forward on the left analog stick to swing the club.

While putting using the Dual Shock controls you are given the option to determine how hard you want to swing your club. You press the Square button and you can go from a mild swing meant to cover a few feet through 2 other options to a really hard swing meant to cover half a football field if needed. This is nice, but I often found that the estimated shot power required using the milder swings would be wrong, leaving me with an under powered putting game. It got so that I would almost always just go for the yardage shots, because I knew those would at least get to the hole.

One final thing about the Move controls that I should point out. Sometimes for no reason the club would hit the ball while I was still on my back swing, leading to a driver shot of a few feet. I could not place the reasoning for this, but usually when that happened I would recalibrate the Move by pressing select and getting everything synced.

For me at least the Dual Shock controls felt like they gave you more options on how to shape your shot, and there were times when shooting using the Wand that I would fire off a wicked slice, and had no idea why. Twisting the wand did affect how you control the shot, so it’s very possible I’m just a horrible shot. FORE!

Replayability:

Being able to play online against a friend or three is a great way to extend the life of a game. With 12 courses you could be playing against your friends for quite a while before you get tired of things, particularly if you play 6 or 9 holes at a time. Just boot up the online mode and create a private custom game. Or you can of course try to play against the rest of the world.

One thing that I’d say could go against this game or not depending on how active you are is the swinging motion is very real. I started to get a bit of tennis elbow the longer I played the game. But if you’ve been swinging clubs for years that won’t effect you at all.

Balance:

The game has varying difficulty levels, with the AIs going from beginner to killer. I noticed pretty quickly too that the game plays to your level at some points. When trying to qualify for the tournaments the AI will start to play pretty poorly if you are playing well, and it will play pretty well if you aren’t.

Originality:

The integration of the Move wand controller into the game is a very big step towards making the game feel real. Golf is one of those games that shows you just how motion controls can be used to further immerse the gamer. If the developers are able to further refine this control scheme by including the functionality of the Dual Shock controls they could have a real winner on their hands.

Addictiveness:

How addictive you find this game probably depends entirely on how much you enjoy Golf and the Move controls. Playing the game with just the Dual Shock, even with all of its additional controls, is really just another golf game. But using the Move definitely increases the desire to keep playing.

Appeal:

Do you like Golf? Do you accept that golf can be incredibly frustrating? Are you tired of supporting EA and it’s Tiger Woods franchise? Then this here game is for you!

Miscellaneous:

I don’t know if this was intentional or if I just noticed something the developers didn’t, but when using the create a golfer mode to create my alter ego David Lee Wrath, I noticed that there was no option to create a Black golfer. Or really a golfer of any ethnic decent other than Male Caucasian. That’s pretty bad and hopefully they will correct that oversight next time around.

The Scores:
Modes: Above Average
Sound: Above Average
Graphics: Good
Gameplay/Controls: Great
Replayability: Very Good
Balance: Very Good
Originality: Good
Addictiveness: Enjoyable
Appeal: Above Average
Miscellaneous: Bad

Final Score: Enjoyable Game

Short Attention Span Summary

If a measure of how authentic a golf game is is how many times I wanted to smash my Move Wand then John Daly has lent his name to a supremely authentic Golf game. Meant more for experienced golfers than for beginners, the game will reward you for putting the time in.

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