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Pro 18 World Tour (PSX) Review

Publisher: Psygnosis

Background Info

Golfing titles for consoles date all the way back to the Atari 2600. Thankfully they've improved with the passing of time. I don't know about you, but I hated to sit down with a stiff black joystick and maneuver a block line figure around a trapezoid shaped hole. The realism just wasn't there. Time has seen this genre develop with much greater success.

But now that golf games have evolved to the near-lifelike realm, it has become ever more challenging for companies to push the envelope. Psygnosis has attempted to do so with Pro 18 World Tour Golf and has, on the whole, pretty much kept things at the status quo. I think the game failed to significantly push the game of "computer golf" any further than what has already been done. I'm not saying that Psygnosis failed to deliver an enjoyable game. On the contrary, Pro 18 is a treat to play (except when you want to break your gamepad after a duffer's round of +33 ... through three holes).

So sit back, relax and let's delve further into this title called Pro 18 World Tour Golf. And oh, by the way ... I'm driving the cart.

Presentation/Graphics : 78
I really like how Pro 18's players look - lifelike. Everything from a player's swing to facial expressions look real. It's a video-like effect, not your polygonal EA clone, which is very cool. However, Psygnosis could have spent more time with the timing of the player's reactions. For example: putts that sail 15 feet past the hole are not full of suspense. So don't have the player look like he's encouraging the ball into the hole, well after the ball has traveled over the fringe and into the bunker. I'm sorry, but that's bush. That goes with the audio, too. The crowd going "Wheel of Fortune" wild with suspense on the same scenario is just as annoying and unrealistic. Get it right next time.

Fortunately, all that doesn't detract from the game's enjoyment.

Psygnosis could have also spent more time watering the greens and fairways before shipping out this title. It's hard to discern fairway, from rough and fairway from green at times. Perhaps they could have titled this Pro 18: World in Drought. Don't be so cheap and break out the sprinklers next time.

It would have also been nice to see the player swing while I push the buttons. Instead, you have to push, then watch the swing. It's nothing major, but it's something that brings my score down in this category.

Presentation/Audio : 84
Sorry punk rock fans, no bitchin' sound track included on this disk (those that read my Big Air review will know what I'm talking about). Instead, we are treated with the genteel, serene, Obi-Wan Kenobi-like sounds of Peter Aliss, who has to be related to Alec Guinness in one form or another. His running commentary on the action was timely and mostly accurate. However, I half expected him to say "Use the Force, Luke" when I lined up for a 30-foot putt for eagle on the 18th hole at Lost City ... on the final day of the tournament. "The Force will be with you ... always."

Stanley Townsend and Bobby Clampett are also featured, but are not too prominent. It's the commentary of Aliss that gives the game's audio true class. This was very well done and made the game completely enjoyable. In fact, it helped take my mind off some the shortcomings I already mentioned.

Background sounds are your standard golfing fare ... A LOT OF NOISY BIRDS. Hey tweety, keep it down up there!

Interface/Options : 85
You could tell this title was meant for worldwide release. The main menu comprised of three huge, street sign-ish icons ... something that anyone (except for maybe a drunken Boris Yeltsin) could understand. Navigating through the menus was easy and uncomplicated ... exactly what you want from a menu.

I was disappointed with the amount of time it took to load up each individual hole, however. It seemed like you had to wait forever for the next hole to come up. But once it was loaded, the hole played fast, furious and without interruption. A small tradeoff I guess.

Gameplay : 78
If you are looking for Pro 18 to bring you a new or different look to console golf, then you will be disappointed. So that's why I'm starting with the gameplay section. That's what you are all interested in anyway (especially you there ... yes, you behind the Compaq).

Pro 18 allows you to compete with eight of the world's top professional golfers: Laura Davies, Tom Lehman, Colin Montgomerie, Mark O'Meara, Jesper Parevik (love the hat Jesper), Dottie Pepper, Vijay Singh and Ian Woosnam.

You notice I put Davies atop that list of golfing greats. That's because she was wrongfully omitted for the game's jacket. Pictured on the booklet are O'Meara, Lehman, Singh and Montgomerie. Combined that foursome has won a total of four major championships. Four! Monty, the great golfer that he is, has won zero, zilch, nada.

Davies? Well, she's won six majors and -- in my extremely educated opinion -- is the best golfer featured in this game. Bar none. End of argument. How she could be slighted from the jacket is well beyond the realm of human comprehension. She wasn't even mentioned in the book. That's sick.

But this is a game, right? And that's where Psygnosis redeemed themselves for this mind-numbing mistake. In Pro 18, the ladies get to play against the guys in the tournament mode. There are no red tees for the women, just one tee for all. While that may take away from the game's realism, I think it adds a little flare.

Pro 18 also offers three courses to play: Royal County Down in Northern Ireland, Coeur d'Alene in Idaho and Gary Player's Lost City outside of Sun City, South Africa (... which brings up another gripe, why wasn't Player included in this game. Sorry, personal preference).

Overall, this game plays like most other golfing games (except for Atari's ill fated 2600 release ... no stick figures or trapezoids here). You hit the button three times to strike the ball, and either hit fairway, rough, sand, water or tree depending on how well you connect. However, one neat addition was the ability to add backspin to your shot. A second meter underneath the traditional swing meter helps you create this spin and also affect your direction. Good addition.

Once you reach the green (hopefully in regulation), Psygnosis dropped its guard somewhat. The putting, at best, is average. The ball moves way too fast across the green, even on some lightly hit shots from three feet away. I'm sorry, but a three-foot put doesn't move at the same velocity as a Steve Yzerman slapshot. Plus the breaks aren't nearly as dramatic and become hard to judge with the high speed of the ball. This will hack you off, trust me. Just ask my controller.

As with most other golf titles, you have Mother Nature to deal with in Pro 18. But don't worry ... the wind doesn't play a major factor. Don't use the wind to set up the placement of your approach shot. You'll find yourself away from cup.

You can play a variety of different games in Pro 18, including strokeplay, fourball, shootout (challenging), Skins (break out the checkbook) and a four-round tournament. There is also a practice mode, which allows you to play individual holes on all three courses. That can be fun if you don't have too much time.

Difficulty : 82
Yes, this game can be difficult, but hey ... this is golf, not Lawn Darts, for goodness sake. The whole intention of golf if to be difficult and it wouldn't be golf if you didn't have to really hone your skills to get better. I did, however, cut my score down considerably the second time I played Pro 18. My first round at Lost City was +33. When I played it again, I shot five over on the day, +28 on the tournament. Still missed the cut, but hey, I got the hang of it. Don't let the game's difficulty impact your enjoyment of Pro 18. Just work at it.

Overall : 80
Yeah, Pro 18 was fun like any game should be. If you can't enjoy a game then it's not worth playing. But it didn't really push the envelope like I wished it would and that was disappointing. But on the whole, fun game. Give it a try.

As Mr. Aliss would gently say, "A safe four ... nicely done."

By: Matt Humphrey 5/22/99

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