However, likeable as all that is, the ‘True Brit’ feel isn’t going to sell the game. What might is the control system, which is probably the most accurate and realistic system we’ve seen. As with most golf games you start by setting up the shot from behind, checking the layout from golfer to green and making adjustments for wind conditions and any hazards on the way. With Tiger Woods, you would then simply use the left thumbstick to take your swing, but ProStroke takes a slightly more complex approach. First, you switch to a downwards view of the club. Using this, you can use the D-pad to control the stance of your golfer, the left thumbstick to adjust the angle and facing of the club and then – finally – the right thumbstick to swing back, swing forwards, and connect. It’s intuitive enough to suit non-golfers, particularly as there’s a line indicator to gives you a real-time update on your swing, but if you have a passing knowledge of the noble game you’ll be surprised how much of your experience translates. You don’t have to fiddle with clumsy crosshair-on-ball diagrams or shot-modifier keys to add spin, fade or draw, or get the club-face under the ball in a bunker. Instead, you simply work out what you would do in real life, and apply it in the game.
Admittedly, this system takes time to get used to. Your initial problem will be gauging distance. ProStroke Golf doesn’t go in for Tiger’s super-human power swings, so in many cases the quoted maximum distance for a club is a best-case scenario, and you’ll frequently fall short. This in turn will have a major effect on the way you play over water hazards or towards a sand trap. What’s more, ProStroke seems a lot less forgiving when you over or under-egg the swing. As with just about any golf game, putting also takes a certain amount of practice. While you get plenty of information on distance, along with an estimated percentage of putting power to use and some idea of the amount you’ll have to modify for slope, the pitch of the green from left to right is harder to read, meaning you’ll spend a lot of early games overcompensating and missing the hole, or under compensating with much the same effect. All I can say is that, with time, you will develop a feel, much like you do in real-life golf.
The important thing is that ProStroke golf gets all the basics right, and plays an enjoyable and grittily challenging game of golf. The mix of real-world and imaginary courses caters to most tastes and levels of ability, your AI opponents – even the pros – make mistakes, and the game always leaves you feeling that with a little more luck or a little more skill you could soon pull that handicap down. In a sense, it’s just like the real thing.