Golf in video games has long been dominated by Tiger Woods. Sure there has been the occasional Hot Shots Golf and maybe even an Outlaw Golf for good measure. I'm not above strapping myself into an odd piece of hardware to play a game of golf. But Tiger is the main competitor that any golf game has to go after if they want to make a dent. Since Tiger has been trendingtoward the more arcade-y side of things, there is now room for a deliberate game of golf, andthat's where ProStroke Golf on the PSP comes in. This game certainly isn't for everyone, but then again, neither is golf.
The most important piece of any golf game is how you swing; if you get that wrong, you've got the game wrong. In ProStroke Golf you won't be using the analog nub. Your swing is determined by how much power you put on it using the right shoulder, and the timing ofthe left shoulder determines if the ball goes where you want it to. This took a lot of my practice to get right, and it's not as immediately accessible as the Tiger games. Footing and placement of your hit on the ball also helps you aim your shot. If this sounds slow-paced to you… well, it is. Golf isn't a fast-paced game, and while some titles seek to lessen this aspect of the game to draw in a broad audience, ProStroke revels in thelaid-back nature of golf. This will put many players off, but I found it refreshing. This is game you can play while drinking a Seven and Seven, just like real golf!
The one thing most golf games lack is presentation; it's like developers think golf simulators are a license to slam bland into their game. ProStroke is no different: the create-a-character mode is lacking, the graphics are mediocre, the sounds are forgettable, and the courses all kind of slide together. This isn't a game you can show to a friend and expect them to be impressed, and it's also not a game you can pick up and immediately appreciate. The first few hours are going to feel like work, and without the crutch of graphics or presentation to keep you going,many gamers are going to lose interest rather quickly. I almost did more than a few times, but I kept going back.
I'm glad I did, since the experience of ProStroke Golf is like real golf, with all the baggage that entails. You're going to get frustrated and annoyed at the beginning, but if you stick with it and give the game some of your time, you'll get thethrill of setting up that perfect shot.
It takes time to find the charms of ProStroke, and I'd turn the sound down to get rid of that annoying play-by-play. Dedicated gamers will find something that feels close to an actual game of golf, something that Tiger doesn't often do these days. I just wish the presentation and graphics were stronger; as shallow as it sounds, many gamers will pick the game up, look at the back, and put it right back down. If you like a slow-paced game of golf on a raining day, it may be worth keeping this in your hand, especially at the $20 price point.
Developer: Gusto Games
Publisher: Oxygen Interactive
ESRB Rating: Everyone
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