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However, it has to be said that it’s not a game packed with features. You get quick match and single and multi-player tournaments, but there’s no online mode, and it has to be said that the career mode is fairly basic. There are tournaments and prizes to be won, plus a reputation system that sees your position rise not just when you win, but also through a series of cool, crowd-pleasing achievements. At the end of the day, though, it’s all a bit Spartan. And while a course designer is welcome, the player customisation options seem awfully thin after EA’s ‘gameface’ technology. With only a few costumes, haircuts and face and body types to play with, you’re in luck if you can get something that looks much like yourself.
However, the biggest problem here isn’t depth but surface. The menus and the interface are slick, but the graphics are – to be honest – fairly rough. The courses look bland, the foliage looks primitive from a distance and plain terrible up close and even the water can only manage a slightly dull, motionless, sheen. The players are well-animated, but their facial modelling and texturing is slightly primitive. Anyone who’s seen Tiger Woods on the 360 will feel like they’re looking through a time tunnel at a golf game of circa year 2000, and even against the PS2 competition ProStroke faces some unflattering comparisons. This is a game you love despite its looks, not because of them.
And it’s this kind of response that will most affect how you see ProStroke Golf. If you can do without the showbiz glamour and visual appeal, not to mention the sheer, bend-over-backwards desperation to entertain that surrounds EA’s blockbuster golf franchise, then you may form a lasting bond. In fact, I can imagine the more straight-laced Sunday golfer getting a huge kick out of ProStroke’s more authentic, Brit-centric approach. The more casual crowd, however, are going to dismiss ProStroke after a glance. Me? I’m caught somewhere in-between. I’ve enjoyed playing ProStroke, and it’s actually made me want to get back out there on my local course and play for real. And yet, as soon as I went back to Tiger Woods (just for purposes of comparison, you understand) I found myself having a better time, and I must shamefully admit that some of that was because I was having an easier time.
So, this is a case if you pays your money and takes your choice. If you’re a golf-course regular who wants a game that reflects the real-life sport as played in our rainy, windy climes, then ProStroke Golf will do you proud. If you’d rather tackle Pebble Beach the Hollywood way, wait for Tiger Woods ‘07 to roll around.
True-to-life golf without the EA glitz. ProStroke has solid controls and a richly authentic British feel, which almost makes up for its lack of visual glamour.