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Golf Pro (PC) Review

Publisher: Empire

Background Info

Imagine yourself on an open fairway, wind blowing, birds chirping, and all you are thinking about is how green and beautiful the sunny skies are with the temperature a very comfortable 78 degrees. Now imagine yourself on a golf course, club in hand, flag in sight, and your ball placed ever so perfectly in the middle of the fairway. You take a swing and miss the ball. Practice swing, that's all it was, now you concentrate on the center of the ball, abandoning all sounds, thoughts, and movement as you wind up for the kill. You swing, and then another, and another, and another... That's it! Now you have the picture! Now you have the same angle of frustration I went through the first time I took on The Golf Pro. The game comes with 4 CD's. Two for the Hilton Head golf course, and two for St. Mellion's golf course and installation. The installation requires quite a lot of space to play the game including 50 MB of space for each "golf pro." One thing I found difficult to accept is the fact that The Golf Pro requires you to switch CD's after 9 holes of play. Unless you have two CD drives in your PC, this is quite tedious and not very enjoyable.

Presentation/Graphics : 90
One thing should be mentioned and that is how wonderful the picturesque golf courses look. Graphics were definitely a concern, maybe too much of one, on the part of the game developers. Every possible foot of the course has been accurately surveyed to within 1-1/2 inches of change. In other words, it doesn't get much more real than this. But, despite the game's looks, the course does run into several disadvantages. The first black eye comes from the fact that you are rarely ever behind the player before the shot. Because of the graphical representation of the two courses supplied with the disk, you are limited to only a few angles of approach. Should you wind up outside one of these "shots" you will find that you are often looking to the side of your shot, unable to detect changes in curvature of the course. There have been many of times that I have missed my shots mainly because I was not directly viewing the line to the hole from my ball. This will aggravate you and make you helpless in perfecting the game.

Presentation/Audio : 73
The game's audio is very well done, with a pleasing, yet very talkative announcer. He is quite aware of your mistakes and your triumphs; however, he lets the rest of the crowd know of them too. There is nothing getting by this character and he becomes very annoying after a very short time. There is no crowd noise, no birds chirping, no exterior sounds besides your club, your ball, and that announcer guy. He has a comment about the hole, your play, or some other aspect of the game of golf nearly every time he has a chance to.

Interface/Options : 89
There isn't much to navigating the Golf Pro as you can run almost all options with the mouse. The front end is very simple with only 4 or 5 menu selections. Checkboxes rule the options screen as you can select what you want to include into the game. You can select items quickly and easily and it takes the chore out of getting a game going. In fact, to make things easier, you can preset a defined setting for a "Quick Play" option at the main menu for fast and easy links in a hurry!

Gameplay : 69
Upon executing the program, The Golf Pro begins with a short lesson session with Gary Player himself explaining the do's and the don'ts of playing the game of golf. He also breaks into showing you how to hit the ball (which in this title is quite an interesting feat) and how to place it accurately down the course! Gone are the days of double or triple clicking of the mouse to get your swing down pat. There is no power guide, no direction guide, only a stroke guide. "A stroke guide?" you ask. Yes. This game follows the latest trend of moving away from a double-click or tri-click method, instead requiring you to emulate the swinging of a golf club by moving your mouse. To hit the ball you have to slowly move the mouse to the right, this is your back swing and power into the swing, then swiftly move the ball to the left as accurately as you can to place compression on your golf ball, sending it 300+ yards down the fairway. Unfortunately this was the only major plus I found in the game. There are other limitations in the game play of The Golf Pro that should be explained. Unfortunately, this game can only be improved in next year's version so we believe that you should know about these issues before you venture into purchasing this title. The first is that you don't have the option of playing against the computer: forget it, it's not even in there. You do have a choice of playing against "pre-recorded" players that come with the game, or you can record your own rounds of golf and trade them with other owners of the game. Playing against the computer is an absolute MUST for PC owners. The other absolute must is online play. Yes, it is capable of this feat, as are most other titles available today, but this is the only one that advertises it but does not offer it yet. I checked out Empire's web site for information on this and found out that online play is in the works. Other small nuisances in the game are small things like how your ball hits a tree and succumbs heavily to the pull of gravity and falls straight to the ground. Another issue is regulating how hard you hit the ball: there are no meters or accuracy lines to guide you into the hole, nor are there any distance indicators to give you the benefit of the doubt. It would seem that you could spend as much time learning this game as you learn the real game of golf.

Difficulty : 80
The Golf Pro is difficult to learn in the beginning, yet you become used to the easy way of swinging the ball and there isn't much else to control besides that. The menu systems seem somewhat navigable and there seems to be no other hitches involved in learning how to operate the game. However, if you are new to the "true swing" involved with striking the ball on golf games, then this one will be somewhat difficult to master in the beginning...then again, what game in today's world isn't?

Overall : 80
Although there is MUCH room for improvement, the guys over at Empire really have something special here. The only problem is that they don't have their arms around it yet and you will have to wait until next year to get anything close to what Links or PGA Tour Pro have to offer. This game is really pretty to look at, and certainly can't be judged by its cover. Unfortunately, this is one golf title I am going to have to skip this year.

By: Doug Pierce 8/3/98

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