Arriving after the feature-packed and Move-supported Tiger Woods PGA Tour 11, John Daly’s ProStroke Golf has a lot to live up to, but the Lion does an admirable job of facing up to the intimidating Tiger.
Whilst Tiger was as slick and polished as you’d expect from a seasoned EA Sports title, ProStroke Golf is similarly basic in a lot of the areas you’d expect it to be. It lacks the licensed golfers, cups and tournaments that EA excels at, and the overall presentation is lacklustre at best, it has one solid advantage over its Tiger rival: it was built for Move, and it shows.
In practically every aspect that Tiger’s Move support is lacking, Daly improves. There’s no need for a Navigation or DualShock pad: everything can be controlled using just Move, including menus, club selection and aiming. Pointing at the screen and holding T lets you move a cursor around to place your shot’s landing spot, with greater precision than in Tiger: you can make small adjustments slowly rather than twitching from side to side, a godsend on the green.
When it comes to taking your shot, the Move really shines. Pointing the controller down and pushing the move button changes the camera to a view of the ball at your feet, with a practice swing automatically selected to let you get the hang of things. After swinging, a yellow line shows the projected trajectory of the ball, but you have to press Triangle to get a better view which can get a bit tedious. This marker is invaluable however: you can see how shaping your shots with slight alterations to your wrist position and speed of swing have big impacts on their trajectories, and having the trail on the green makes putting far less of a frustrating experience than in other titles.
Your first few shots with Move are likely to veer wildly off to one side as you adjust to the controller’s accuracy, but subtle changes to your wrist angle, height of your back-swing and position of your feet – changed by holding T and moving the controller left to right – can make all the difference. A range of shots are possible, from punchy approaches to lofted chips, executed with a combination of foot position, back-swing and wrist position, just as in real life. There’s skill to be found here for those willing to work at it, but it’s a shame the tutorials are under-developed: they seem more focused on the game’s DualShock controls, but if you ever want to head to the tee to practise your drives you’ll be set here.
If all this sounds a little intimidating, you can change the level of assistance offered in sculpting your shots. On the easiest setting, you need only worry about your back-swing, with several invisible “assists” helping you along; the middle setting brings the swing into consideration and dials down the assistance level; and the top setting removes any help, and is therefore only recommended for experienced golfers and those wanting a stern challenge.
So far so good for the Lion, but when you start to grapple with the gameplay you soon discover there simply isn’t enough of it. Whereas Tiger overflows with options, from the official Ryder Cup to career modes and more, John Daly offers a quick match, training, online and pseudo-career play that disappoints. Although you can customise your golfer, there’s none of the statistic-improving elements that made Tiger’s career play an addictive prospect. In fact, at first you can’t even select a tournament: to earn the right to play on a course proper you must defeat Daly himself at four challenges. Whilst these are useful to learn the basics of the game – driving, approach shots and putting are the first challenges – they feel like obstacles to the real gameplay, which is being able to go out on the links and see how you match up to other golfers.
You can play online against others straight away, but in all the times we searched online we never found an opponent to play against, so you’re likely to spend the vast majority of your time facing off against a virtual John Daly in countless attempts to beat his incredible golfing talent.
As we said earlier, Daly lacks in areas where Tiger succeeds, and nowhere is that more evident than in the game’s presentation. Daly himself in no way resembles his real-life self, other than in questionable dress sense and a very heavy swing motion, and there’s some stilted animation, poor texturing and generally mediocre graphics on display throughout the game. There’s no music out on the fairway and no option to play your own files from the PS3’s hard drive, so you’re stuck with the buzzing of flies and occasional commentary from Sam Torrance and Peter Kessler. The menus are also fiddly, with buttons often too small and the pointer control overly twitchy, making navigating the pre-game screens more difficult than it should be.
Like Daly himself, the game that bears his name is a capable proposition that’s more than a little rough around the edges. Disappointing presentation, poor structure and an overall lack of content lets the package down, but the Move controls are good enough to warrant a look from gamers after a surprisingly compelling round of golf.