I am not a golfer in real life, and the reason is simply that I get golf rage when the balls don’t behave. Throwing a fit, a club or a caddie is not considered good practice on the course. I still enjoy the game of golf whenever I can on a console or portable device. Seeing a spanking new golf game from Gameloft I jumped on it straight away. I have been waiting for a new game of golf to replace the excellent Tiger Woods PGA Tour. After playing around with Real Golf 2011 I can conclude two things:
1. I have never been closer to throwing my iPhone into a wall than when trying sink what looks like a simple putt.
2. I am definitely ready to forgive Tiger for his poor behavior if EA can please bring another game using his name.
The first impression of Real Golf 2011 is definitely positive. The character models look great, and move fluently. The courses look brilliant with cool breezy skies above. The level of polish sets it far beyond all other golf games. The menus also look good, but for some strange reason they are iffy to navigate. The upgrade gear browser can start spinning instead of moving onto the next category of gear.
The sound is also excellent with great ambient sounds from the environment, and often-helpful commentaries. The menu music is the standard elevator muzak often found in Gameloft games. Integrated iTunes playlists, and ability to continue your own music alongside the sound effects is a good thing.
You have a selection of pros to play the game with, but no create a player mode at all. I don’t care much for the real life pros at all. Sure Gulbis is a looker, but to me only Greg Norman has got any cool in the game. Depending on your golfer of choice you get comments, and thoughts from the pro during loading screens. This is a neat inclusion making a connection between player and player.
There is a rather boring career mode starting off with piss poor AI opponents. You can skip watching their entire stroke, but still have to watch them teeing up. I would have liked an option to skip watching AI players at all. During the career mode you rise in the rankings, and your player automatically levels up. This doesn’t seem to correlate to the actual proves but rather just adds new stats over the entire board.
There is a challenge mode as well that sets you up with a number of interesting challenges. There is also an online multiplayer mode. I never tried the online portion due to already threatening my iPhone with a close wall encounter. Gameloft LIVE! integration for achievements, and youtube connectivity for replays. It all sounds great, but I haven’t talked about controls yet.
There is two control methods available: Tiger Woods PGA Tour style and an old school 2 button bar. The Tiger Woods style lets you draw up, down, up on the right side of the screen. Depending on how well you manage to draw straight the game avoids hooks and slices. For the drives, and long shots it works quite well. For shorter shots, and putts it becomes fiddlier to get it right. The old school 2 button bar comes with a slight delay, at least that is how I feel. Making shots by tapping the screen should be easy, but I slice worse than ever. Having to be a little before the bar in tapping feels wrong, but is needed. So neither of the control methods feels tight and responsive.
The worst aspect of the game is the aiming, as it is really itchy. After swearing at the player for aiming the wrong direction too many times I stopped trying to aim at all, and just hit the ball like the game automatically aims. The aim goes off when the game changes clubs, and starts scrolling the wrong way. Even worse than aiming for the long shots is the chore of setting up putts. You can press a caddie button showing a direct line to the hole, and the inclines and declines in the green. It is not clear however if this caddie aim is the best way to play the shot. If I manage to play onto the green close enough for an automatic putt I usually make birdies, but if I have to putt there is no shortage of quadruple bogeys. The camera angles provided don’t show the inclines and declines of the green good enough to be any help. The putting aspect is so hit n miss that it is better to play a wedge than putt when in the fringe. And if you have an iPhone 4 forget about the gyroscope for aiming. It turns the pro golfer into a Parkinson disease ridden senior citizen shaking all over the place.
Real Golf 2011 is a beautiful game with excellent presentation, and a whole range of cool features and by the numbers it should be a great game. Iffy controls, shallow player development, broken putting and a lack of soul bring it soaring from the skies straight into a bunker. If a former president lying in the senate can be forgiven, please let us forgive Tiger so we can have a new game soon. If not keep to either the old one or Let’s Golf 2. And yeah there is another golf game out there that we gave a perfect score.
Real Golf 2010 $6.99
Seller: Gameloft S.A.
Tested on an iPhone 4.