But it’s just how you slap those little balls of plastic and rubber that counts. It’s in the challenge of being able to hit those little balls well, under the player’s control, that makes a golf game fun. After all, make it dead easy and things are very boring (hey! Just like real…) but make it too difficult and frustration outweighs the enjoyment.
What you need is a balance between giving the player the chance to either screw up or do well. That balance is usually found in the variables the player has to tinker with – things like which club to use, how much power to hit the ball with, which way the wind’s blowing, whether to hook or slice (or in Pro Tour language, draw and fade) and what terrain the ball’s landed in. Pro Tour gives you all that and more.
Plenty of Spin
As well as all of the above, Pro Tour gives the player the chance to put spin on the ball – so it either skips along the green or stops dead, depending on the amount – and to ‘punch’ the ball. This is a little chip shot that’s ideal for getting you out of trouble or for playing chip and run shots onto the green (that’s where you chip it and it runs onto the green – see?).
One other major addition Pro Tour has that you won’t find in other golf games is the ability to open and close the ‘face’ of the club. Essentially this means controlling whether you actually hit the ball ‘face on’ or not. Normally you’d want to hit the ball face on because then you’ve got a good strike at it and it goes just where you want. Open up the face and you kind of scoop the ball a bit so it flies higher but doesn’t go as far. Closing the face has the opposite effect.
How you actually play is very standard. Point your little ‘viewed from above’ man in the right direction, select your club, add some spin if you want and then press the mouse to raise the power meter, press it again and it falls and give it a third and final press when it’s on the mid-line between drawing the ball to the left and fading it to the right. If all goes well, and depending on the weather, the ball should go just about where you want it to.
I mention the weather because it has an effect on the flight of the ball. Fine weather means perfect playing conditions with full ball control. Dry weather means the ground is harder and thus faster so the ball will roll further but spin less. Overcast conditions mean the ground’s soft and the ball will stop quickly. Rain presents the toughest challenge because the ground’s wet and your visibility is reduced.
Pro Tour gives the player the chance to put spin on the ball - so it either skips along the green or stops dead...
Watch the Weather
The condition of the ground is very important – in the same way as landing your ball in the rough or on the green is very important – because it affects the lie of the ball and therefore how much control you’re going to have over the next shot.
And just what kind of golfing are you going to be up to? Well, you can playing an 18-, 36- or 72-hole tournament (set over the four courses supplied with the game). The more holes the bigger the purse, the object of the exercise being to win the tournaments and accrue some dosh. Erm, not that you can then spend it on anything, so it’s a bit like winning points really. Oh, and there’s a practice mode too where you can get used to playing.
But is it any good? No. The one feature in this game that absolutely ruins it is the fact that you can’t hit your ball over trees. You can whack off from the tee and watch as your ball rises gracefully into the air – dozens of feet into the air by the way it looks – and suddenly it’s going to come crashing down when it passes over a tree (which all look like small bushes).
Apparently this is a game ‘feature’ that "allows for complex holes which require thought about where you are going to put the ball to give the best aim at the flag. It also requires you to use the draw and fade controls to shape your shots around trees…" All well and good in theory, but erm, why not just design holes that are complex and require thought about where you’re going to put the ball anyway? After all, you don’t actually want to hit the ball into the trees do you? Avoiding them is what the game’s all about, but then being clever and being able to whack the ball over the top of them is a good way to short-cut the hole. And if you haven’t got the skill to hit over them you go round ‘em. But to make the player have to go round them is such a cop-out.
Not the best
Although it doesn’t render the game unplayable, it takes a great deal away from it and the ‘complex holes which require thought’ boil down to about two seconds’ worth of thought when you have a look at the overhead map and see where you have to hit the ball to avoid the trees. Ho hum.
Not the best golfing game around and certainly not as good as some of the old classics, so, if golf’s your thing, it’s worth going for one of them, especially as Guildhall Leisure are re-releasing Sensible Golf very shortly (AF74 81%).