I can see it now, the dollar signs lighting up in the eyes of some random video game company exec in a meeting when the PlayStation Move was released:
"Hey guys, those Tiger Woods guys seem to have the market cornered on golf games, but they only release a game each June. We have to put together a product quickly to capitalize on this thing before the Tiger Woods guys get on it."
So that's what they did. John Daly's ProStoke Golf is a shady attempt to put out a golf game before the competition did, and boy does it show. While the game features some solid motion controls, everything else in the package is decidedly below par, no pun intended.
Starting with the good; swinging the golf club with the PS Move feels great. The system is powerful and nuanced. The slightest variation in your swinging motion and even foot stance will greatly affect your ball's trajectory in a satisfying way. However, it is possible to cheat the system a bit by pulling the controller back to a desired backswing without having to do it in one solid motion. Still, it's impressive that the Move can detect the difference in your swing based on which foot you have in front of which, and the ball will hook or slice accordingly. Putting up the difficulty can really help your real life golf game, and your scores will likely mirror those you hit in real life.
In another nice touch, the game gives you a first person view looking down at the ball, which is how you're supposed to actually hit the golf ball. This is called ProStroke view, and it's far superior to any of the other camera options. The other camera options have you pointing the Move remote where you want the ball to go, but the controls are really twitchy and frustrating to use.
That's pretty much where the good ends. Continuing with the theme of control, putting will have you tearing your hair out. No matter what the game is telling you in terms of how much strength is required, the game will always register less than the strength you've put in. Either the percentage of strength the game is suggesting is too conservative, or the system is just plain off. The ball also feels like it is curving randomly. In other words, putting is simply infuriating.
You can also play the game with a standard controller, but that would eliminate the one positive that the game has going for it. The game becomes far too easy with the controller, and takes all of the meagre fun out of the game.
Even if you love the controls, there's not much in the game to hold your attention for very long. There is a career mode that really isn't a career mode at all. Essentially, you take on John Daly himself in a series of challenges like longest drive competitions and putting challenges. Getting through these challenges is necessary before you can unlock any tournaments and courses that are simply Tiger Woods' leftovers. It doesn't help that Daly is nearly unbeatable in later levels, meaning you'll likely never see some of the courses. That's pretty much all there is to the career mode. Play Daly, play a tournament, rinse, lather repeat. There's none of the depth you'd find in other golf games.
Your other options are to play a quick 18 holes on your own with no competition, play some tutorials, or go online. That's it, that's all. The online mode is pointless because there is no one playing whatsoever. I tried on five separate occasions to find a game or to have someone join mine, but to no avail. If it's this big a desert now, forget about any long term online aspirations.
The tutorials are also frustrating because you'll be instructed as if you're playing with a controller instead of the Move. The screens, controls, and features change from one controller to the other, but the tutorial simply assumes you're playing with a controller, and makes no effort to differentiate.
To complete the cacophony of crap, the menus are horrendously designed, with splatters of John Daly's ugly mug all over the place. I must admit though, his ridiculous pants are good for a laugh. The menus have you pointing the Move at the screen for the selected option, but the selections are far too small, and the pointer is far too twitchy, which will have you selecting the wrong options over and over and over again.
Perhaps most insulting of all, however, is the blatant in game advertising that is shoved in your face at every turn. The game has dynamically updated billboards that are all over the courses, but that's just the start. As you tee off at every other hole, an in game ad appears in the bottom right corner. But that's not even the worst of all. As you reach the 9th hole on each course, you'll be given an unskippable commercial. I'm not kidding. In a full priced retail release, we're being forced to sit through ads before we can continue playing the game we paid for. I'm not sure, but I think the game wants me to buy Avatar: The Extended Edition on Blu-ray. This 'addition' is completely and utterly unacceptable, is simply an insult to gamers everywhere, and turns a game from simply bad to offensive.
It doesn't matter much with so much else wrong with the game, but the presentation is horrendous. The golfer models are poorly detailed with poor texture work and inexpressive faces. The hair looks matted and pixelated. John Daly himself looks more like Ralph Wiggum than his real life counterpart. Initially the courses look decent, but are devoid of fine detail. The fairways look like uniform carpet, and trees and billboards are low resolution puke when viewed up close. The crowds are barely animated and are as detailed as PlayStation One era models. The game is also loaded with graphical glitches. More than once, the ProStroke view gave way to a blank blue screen that wouldn't go away until I swung the Move randomly for a shot. The ball will jitter and stutter in mid air, and the crowds blinked in and out of existence on more than one occasion. Finally, the ball never actually hits the ground, and floats disconcertingly an inch over the fairway at all times. There are many Wii games that look better than this.
The audio presentation is drier than the Sahara desert too. The commentary literally sounds phoned in, as in there's a weird feedback that makes it sound like it's coming over the phone. The commentary is also pointless and offers little insight to what's happening on the course. John Daly himself provides voice samples, which is as thrilling as it sounds. At least the sounds of drives and balls hitting the grass sound decent.
I wish John Daly's ProStroke Golf was merely a bad game. Then I could say to move on without a second glance. However, once the in game advertising left a terrible taste in my mouth, it became personal. This is not just the worst of a mediocre Move launch line up, it's a tech demo masquerading as a full priced retail release that feels the need to try and pinch more pennies from your pocket with insulting in game advertising, and is the worst game I've had the misfortune of playing all year. It's not even good enough for a laugh. Pass.