XBOX REVIEW: REAL WORLD GOLF

Finally, a golf game to get excited about. by Cole Smith

April 20, 2006 - It's been a long tough road for the golfing genre. The control issue has long been a concern of developers and player alike. Do we go with a roller ball? Is the analog stick the way to go? Should the power meter system (ala Tiger Woods PGA Tour) continue to be refined? Real World Golf decided to take the sensible solution and develop a controller that all golfers could relate to - a #$%&ing golf club! How's that for ingenuity? Who would have ever thought of that?

At first glance it may appear to be a novelty. After all, the club is plastic and you have to wear wired gloves that track your movement. And you have to learn to swing at an imaginary ball located in the center of an expensive peripheral device that has to be purchased in order to play this game.

After a few swings I was convinced that this is the way to go. The control is incredibly responsive and the physics involved, from the trajectory of the ball to the way it bounces, is so close to perfect that Real World Golf could be used as a training tool for golfers of all levels. As a videogame, it's a lot of fun, closing in on the gap between virtually reality and reality. Videogame golf has been given a new lease on life. There's a new tiger in town.

Before I get to sounding all gushy about this game let me add that Real World Golf, despite the controller, is just an average golf game as far as the gameplay is concerned. The graphics look like they are from the last millenium with low res textures and aliasing which gives object the jaggies. There are 10 different courses inspired by real world European courses and while they aren't exactly a sight for sore eyes, they are functional. After you become engrossed by the challenge of the game you'll only be looking at the scenery to gauge your next shot. I would expect things to look a lot better in the sequel which I'm sure there will be considering the potential for a long-lasting series of RWG games based on this great control system. There is also a four-player mode but no online modes. I would also expect to see an online multi-player mode next time around.

There are three difficulty levels. The easiest is the amateur mode which is the best way to start things off. It will give you confidence because it's more forgiving but it also will help teach you the correct stance and how to hit the ball dead-on to avoid slicing and hooking. You'll also notice that it's easier to make long putts in this mode. Once you find that you're score is getting into the realm of the professionals, it's time to increase the difficulty. The Pro setting is the most difficult and even though I did good in the easy mode, it seemed that I couldn't do anything right in the Pro setting - at first anyway. It seemed that the ball went everywhere but where I intended it to go. I was beginning to wonder if I accidentally set the game to Punked mode. I was looking around for hidden cameras. As it turns out, I just naturally suck. Thankfully the game gives you feedback after each shot to help you out, although it seems like it's done to belittle you. The announcer will give you pointers and after enough practice I was able to hit the ball at the proper angle and at least keep it on the green instead of in the lake.

Real World Golf features a practice mode, driving range, putting green, chipping green, single-match and tournament modes. There is a four-player multi-player mode and to speed things up each player completes his or her hole before having to take off the gloves and change positions with the other players. It's just way more convenient that way. There are also some mini-games which are just thrown in for novelty more than anything else. You can attempt to smash out the windows of the clubhouse or try your hand at hitting other targets.

As long as I played the game I was still aware of the wires attached to the glove and at times, after having broken so many controllers in my gaming career, I believe I was subconsciously holding back on my swing. Wireless is definitely the way to go with these gloves but you can't have everything. As you grasp or raise your club, your onscreen character will follow your actions perfectly and without delay. It can take your mind a while to adjust having to shoot a ball into a TV set. You might have to change your position slightly until you get comfortable. While I'm dreaming, not only would wireless gloves be great but imagine playing in full 360-degree virtual reality. I would cancel my membership at Bob's Burgers and Miniature Golf Emporium.

As I've mentioned, the graphics aren't great and neither is the audio. The sound effects of the audience as well as the swish of the ball are too exaggerated and feel as though they are an added topping as opposed to a marinade. The background music is a bit too subdued. If I close my eyes I can imagine that I'm hitting a ball up the stationary isle of Wal Mart.

At just under seventy bucks this is not an inexpensive game. This is going to require some serious thought. The Mad Catz controller is of very high quality and is very accurate. It's certainly worth the money, and you'll be able to use it for other games in the future. If you have only a passing interest in golf you might want to pass on this one but if you can't get enough of this popular pastime then you'll definitely want to join the club.

Features:

  • Real World Golf features ten 18-hole golf courses, customizable player profiles, and variable skill levels.
  • Game can be played in quick play, match play, championship and party game modes.
  • Nine in-depth video tutorials help players improve their grip, swing and stance.
  • Up to four players can play together in multiplayer mode.
  • The controller is sensitive enough to track movements as small as 1 millimeter and can track swing speeds up to 2,000 miles per hour.

By Cole Smith
CCC Senior Writer

Rating out of 5
Real World Golf (Xbox)
2.5
Graphics
Dated, low res and full of jaggies. Certainly not pretty but it doesn't interfere with our fun
4.6
Control
If there's a better control system out there it can only be an actual golf club and golf ball.
2.4
Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
The announcer is good but the sound effects are unnatural sounding. The elevator music is so inoffensive that it's offensive.
4.3
Play Value
If you live for golf, you now have a reason not to get depressed during the winter months.
4.4
Overall Rating - Great
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.
System: PS2 (shown), X
Dev: Aqua Pacific
Pub: Valcon Games
Release: Apr 2006
Players: 1 - 4
Review by Cole

Review Rating Legend
1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid
2.0 - 2.4 = Poor
2.5 - 2.9 = Average
3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
3.5 - 3.9 = Good
4.0 - 4.4 = Great
4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
5.0 = The Best