Much like the real thing, it's mystifying just why so many people play golf games. They look identical, give or take the odd Nike swoosh, and they all involve hitting a tiny ball to kingdom come with a rod of metal. Yet despite the huge number of golf games available, they all offer something unique in the way they play - there aren't many game genres that allow for that.
The difference between them is nearly always in how you swing. Older games had you trying to stop a series of power and aiming meters at just the right mark; recent Tiger Woods titles introduced the notion of the analogue stick being directly responsible for the swing of the club. Real World Golf even has you strapped into some sort of S&M fetish accessory so you can swing away for real. But more than any of these games, ProStroke Golf: WorldTour 2007 places the swing at the very centre of the gameplay - bugger it up and your whole game is bollocksed.
To look at, ProStroke is nothing special, apart from being horribly and disconcertingly ugly. Its players look as though they've been the victim of one of those frenzied golfclub beatings straight out of the GTA games, while trees and bushes look like flatpacked cardboard assembled by a Sunny D-crazed two-year-old. But that's missing the point. The beauty of ProStroke lies in the subtlety of its swing.
For a start the view is in the first person, so you end up looking down at the ball, with your feet either side of it. It makes perfect sense, and also means that judging how much power to put into your shots is much more intuitive than if you were looking at your golfer's arse, as in most games. A power meter at the bottom of the screen lets you know how much welly you're putting into your shot, and you try and match it to the recommended shot power (given to you in the information about each hole) for the best results.
The right stick controls the swing and is incredibly sensitive, so you'll often hook or slice your shots right out of bounds to start with, and the left stick controls your body stance. So, to really tonk the ball, you'll find moving the left stick fractionally before the right one increases your power as you go through your swing.
There's incredible depth to how you strike the ball, which makes the overall game very satisfying. There's little in terms of game modes, and no online mode is a bitter pill, but as a pure golf simulation it's very slick indeed. ProStroke Golf is hard work, but mastering a hole and sinking a shot makes it all worthwhile.
The PES of golf games, with a well-designed swing system offering loads of depth.
- In-depth swing system works
- Good challenge on offer
- It fell out of the ugly tree
- Touch-sensitive stick can annoy