Gametrak & Real World Golf PlayStation 2
Published by In2Games
Real World Golf developed by Aqua Pacific
Release Date: Out Now
Price: Gametrak £19.99 Real World Golf £29.99
Gametrak & Real World Golf, an introduction.
There have been many great golf games over the years. Take the Links golf games from Access and Microsoft for instance. The Links games have managed to capture virtually every aspect of golf with accurate ball physics and wonderfully detailed courses. Of course the one area where golf games have failed to be realistic is in their control method. Two-click and three-click swing methods have been used for ages but in all honesty they are not realistic. In recent years the mouse swing (where you push the mouse back and forth to simulate a true golf swing) has become the norm on PC golf games. On console golf games the analogue sticks are used to simulate the swing of a golf club in much the same way. Whilst these control methods are getting closer to the real thing, they still aren't realistic. The next step in making golf games as realistic as possible has just been taken though thanks to the Gametrak controller. This review will first look at the Gametrak controller and then the golf game that was created to showcase its abilities, Real World Golf both of which are purchased separately.
The Gametrak controller is a motion capture device that allows you to control your game with completely natural actions. The controller is made up of 3 elements. There's the Gametrak base unit, the foot mat and two pairs of trak gloves. To use the controller you'll first of all have to plug the controller in via the USB port on your PlayStation 2. Surprisingly there's no external power adaptor needed for the Gametrak device. Secondly you'll put on the trak gloves and finally you'll attach the wires from the base unit to clips on the outside edge of your trak gloves. Basically the way the controller works is that as you move your hands the attached wires allow the controller to motion capture your movements. The controller is said to be highly accurate and captures your movements within 1mm of accuracy. Taking the controller in isolation it's easy to setup and very easy to use. Currently there are two games that take advantage of the controller, Darkwind (a fighting game) and Real World Golf. Future releases include Real World Basketball, Dance Mayhem and Sword master. The game we have access to is Real World Golf so let's take a look at the game and see how the controller performs.
Real World Golf
As we said in our introduction, golf games are still lacking a realistic control system. Real World Golf attempts to correct this by making use of the motion capturing Gametrak controller. Want to play a golf game by using your real life golfing skills? If you do then Real World Golf could be the game for you. Let's take a closer look at the game.
Real World Golf offers four game modes, a tutorial and five golf courses (only two of which are initially available). The game modes are Academy, Round, Tournament and Party Golf. Academy is essentially a series of drills that builds upon the basics you're taught in the very short tutorials. Round, as you might already have gathered, allows you to play a one-off round using either stroke play or match play against a friend or an AI opponent. Tournament allows you to compete in a four day tournament against 50 players and can really be considered the heart of the game. Party Golf offers 5 mini-games for you and up to 3 other friends. These games include target ranges and a couple of darts games that are actually quite fun to play.
The first thing you'll do in Real World Golf is to setup your character. You can't customise the look of your character so you're confined to simply picking one of the default characters. To properly configure a profile for yourself you'll have to do a few actions such as place your hands on your head (whilst wearing the connected trak gloves of course) and making sure you have your stance right. After this brief setup period you'll be off to the tutorial section to learn how to play the game. You'll learn how to drive, do approach shots and putts etc. You'll notice from the screenshots that a mini golf club has been included with the Real World Golf game. The purpose of the club is simply to give you something to hold on to or a chance to practice your grip. Other than this it has no real purpose. You could of course simply play the game by just moving your hands but by using the club you can align the club head with an imaginary ball (on the Gametrak base unit), which helps you to concentrate on the shot as you would do in real life.
So how does the game play then? Well, from the tee to the green it plays very well indeed and really does feel like a quality simulator. There are 3 difficulty settings, Amateur, Semi-Pro and Pro. The easier difficulty settings will give you shorter club distances and are forgiving in terms of your swing accuracy. The Pro difficulty setting gives you the full club distances and your swing will have to be spot on in order to get the shot right. However, when it comes to the putting the whole thing takes a turn for the worse.
In most golf games you get to 'read' the green by making use of a grid that shows all the undulations of the putting surface. This tried and trusted method has worked really well for years and you would think Real World Golf would use it. However, once on the green the only thing you'll have to do is judge your shot power with the shot direction already being made for you. Having been realistic on every other place apart from the green it's crazy that the putting is so simplified when, after all, putting is one of the main aspects of golf. I do have one other complaint and that's to do with the ball physics. For the most part they seem fairly realistic but I have frequent experiences of chipping the ball onto the green only for the ball to bounce straight back as if it had hit a brick wall. It doesn't happen all the while but nevertheless it does happen and it's extremely annoying when it does.
Every aspect of Real World Golf is controlled with the Gametrak device. This is both a blessing and a curse. It's great because it means you don't need to pick up a PlayStation 2 controller and have another cable draped over the floor. It's a pain because the menus can be cumbersome to navigate because you have to lift your arms to cycle through the menu options and then use the foot mat to make your selection. During a game you can zoom to the flag by holding your arms directly in front of you. You can also hold out an arm to change your aim (when you're not on the green) which works well.
Graphically Real World Golf looks quite good. Maybe it's a little sparse when it comes to detailed textures and the game does have a barren look about it but few would complain with how the game looks. Loading times, like on a lot of PlayStation 2 titles can be a little annoying but they are nothing out of the ordinary.
Real World Golf is fine for deaf gamers. The tutorials are subtitled which means you'll be able to follow all the instructions that are given in them. The Academy drills are subtitled too so you'll always know what your objectives are. The hole introductions are subtitled too, which is a nice touch. Certain comments that are made whilst you are playing are not subtitled. Likewise some comments that are made when you are setting your character up are not subtitled, which is disappointing. On the whole though, Real World Golf is OK for deaf gamers.
All things considered then Real World Golf is quite good but putting and occasionally odd ball physics (when chipping on to the green) leave a lot to be desired. The Gametrak controller is, in a word, superb and when it's coupled with a quality golf game will be a fabulous tool for practising golf. I should mention that whilst the game is rated for gamers aged 3 and over, younger gamers will have problems if they are not tall enough. If your hands are too low, the game will think you've taken the trak gloves off and will pause. My daughters had a play with the game and my 7 and 9 nine year old daughters frequently had the game pause on them and their hands were obviously too low. My 10 year old daughter faired a little better but it still wasn't ideal. Still it's mostly adults that will be playing the game so this isn't much of an issue. If only you could use the Gametrak with a golf game as complex and realistic as Links 2003 you really would have the ultimate golfing experience.
Overall Rating for the Gametrak controller: 9.0/10
The Gametrak controller is a great new way to make games feel more interactive and realistic. However it needs quality games to make use of this wonderful piece of hardware. Real World Golf proved to be slightly troublesome for younger gamers though.
Overall Rating for Real World Golf: 6.0/10
Deaf Gamers Classification:
(Click the letter or here for details)
Real World Golf is mostly OK but it falls apart when it comes to the putting, an essential part of golf. There are some odd ball physics to be found at times too. There should definitely be a sequel to iron these problems out and make use of the excellent Gametrak controller.