Prostroke Golf is dangerously close to being the single greatest video game rendition of golf ever made. Its swing mechanic is deep, involving, and handles every aspect of the game properly. Unfortunately, this is a title that collapses on itself anywhere outside of the swing mechanism.
It's apparent from the beginning how lacking Prostroke is. There's no player creator aside from a few standard models and an alternate outfit. Left-handers are left out entirely; Online play is absent; Only two real courses are included; The pros will only be recognized by die-hard golf fans; The career mode has numerous useless features; and there's only one music track for each portion of the game. The sad thing is, that's still not covering everything wrong with the game.
Thanks to its ingenious swing system though, Prostroke Golf is saved from being a total loss. Aside from expensive arcade simulations that use real clubs, this is as close as it comes to the real thing when using an analog stick. Both analog sticks are used in conjunction with each other, which is what allows this to become a deep, challenging simulation.
The left stick shifts your body weight; the right stick swings. As this is done from a stationary first-person viewpoint, the sticks need to be moved left to right instead of a more familiar up and down. Setting up a shot allows for the opportunity to pull out of any desperate scenario.
It's not always a matter of pushing both to the right and then to the left while staying as straight as possible, that's the only way to attain full power, and of course, that's not always what you'll need. Spin is put on the ball by shifting your weight to either side and holding it there. An easy to use indicator lets you know loft, spin rate, or possible miss-direction.
You can also hook the ball around objects using the left stick. As you move the analog, you'll see your virtual wrists move along with it, in addition to the weight shift. The d-pad comes into play to set your feet and their position for flop or punch shots, and can add to the degree of curve you need. Hitting X can adjust power on the swing when needed. Combined, this is as in-depth as video game golf can possibly be.
Putting isn't quite as deep, however, as you'll be given a grid, green height, and distance. Break is rarely significant even though the moving lines on the grid make it seem like it. Obviously, spin, loft, and stance play no role here, so this is an activity set to the right analog stick only.
Even for an experienced pro, Prostroke can be brutally difficult. Years of EA's Tiger Woods franchise has made a score of 48 possible and not that difficult to obtain. You'll be lucky to be under par after 18 in this Oxygen Games developed sim.
As this is a solo experience for the most part (it does support four players in standard modes like match and stroke), your golfers’ career is where your time will be spent. It becomes little more than a few random tournaments and challenges. You'll earn renown which is the only way to enter into higher tournaments.
You'll also earn money, but it has no purpose in the game at all, since there's nothing to buy. You can only assume it's being given to the three man commentary team who are being paid to mumble and sound as uninterested as possible. Additionally, you're always be playing against a NPC character. This makes tournaments that should take 20-minutes run about an hour.
If that becomes too dull to stand, you can create your own course. While obviously losing a lot due to the inability to share your creation with the world online, this is a deeply involving feature. The tools are logical, and aside from a few hints, you could quickly create a few holes to your liking without a deep tutorial. The ability to manipulate the shape of the green or fairway can lead to some involving designs.
It's a shame your course will look like the rest of the game though. This is a hideous looking game of golf, one so awful it affects game play in multiple ways. With an overcast sky, for example, it's nearly impossible to tell water from a sand trap. The reflection of the clouds looks like the same texture used for the dirt. Trees are masses of pixels. Players look like they're standing in front of a still picture given there's no motion at all in the backdrops (not even with a high wind). Robotic and repetitive animation is the final point that completely causes the engine to crumble.
Prostroke Golf is not a game high on the budget side of things — that's obvious. Credit is due for the creators focusing their skills where they belong instead of padding the game with unnecessary extras. While that sadly destroys this product overall when compared to the competition, fans of video game golf will be thrilled with the original concept for swinging and probably stick around long enough to get caught up in the course creator too. This is a worthwhile purchase to the right audience.
Prostroke Golf is rated E (Everyone) by the ESRB. This game can also be found on: PS2, PC.