Over the years developers have come up with a number of ways to emulate the golf swing in video games, from the old-school Triclick button system to the more recent Trueswing method. Those days could very well be over. With the help of In2Games’ Gametrak Game System, Real World Golf virtually puts the club in your hands. I know what you’re thinking: Is the motion capture technology accurate? Do you have to swing like a pro to play Real World Golf? Do they have a beer and sandwich cart on this course? The answer to at least one of these questions is no. Tee up, it’s time to hit the links.
The Gametrak Game System is the heart and soul of Real World Golf. Used in place of your usual PS2 controller, the Gametrak is comprised of four pieces of equipment. First you have the Base Unit, a sensor box that connects to your PlayStation 2 and sits on your floor. Next is the Foot Pedal, which connects to the Base Unit and acts as the controller’s sole button. Then you have a pair of Trak Gloves. At the wrist, the Trak Gloves plug into the Base Unit so as you lift your hands to stand up, wires keep the Trak Gloves tethered to the Base Unit. It’s these wires that ultimately capture the motion of your swing and translate it into the game. Rounding out the package is a mini plastic golf club.
When you initially start the game, you’ll be prompted to create a profile. Navigating the menu system is as simple as lifting your right and left hands to scroll through the options and using the foot pedal to make selections. You’ll be asked to place your hands on top of your head so the Gametrak system can record your height and then indicate whether you’re a right- or left-handed golfer. Gender is not an issue in Real World Golf; there are no female models to choose from. When you’re done creating your profile, you can head straight to the driving range and putting areas, play a round on one of the game’s ten 18-hole courses (only 2 are unlocked at the start), join a tournament, start one of the party games or, if you’re new to the sport or just need to improve your swing, begin the video tutorial and training games.
Now that we’ve got the basics out of the way, let’s get down to the question at hand: how accurate is the Gametrak Game System? There are several elements to a golf swing, but the Gametrak system does a fine job of providing feedback based on posture and club face alignment. Do you keep your posture or do you move up and down as you swing? Do you keep the club face square or do you move your wrists during your swing? These are elements that the Gametrak system measures quite well. The best part is that this all happens in real-time. Grab the mini golf club and watch your on-screen golfer open and close the club face as you move your wrists, and bring the club back as you begin your swing. There’s no delay, your golfer will instantly mimic your movements.
Generating power is the tricky part, that’s based on the speed of the club at impact. I found it a little difficult to generate speed with the mini club, considering it doesn’t have anywhere near the mass of a real golf club. As a result, I struggled in my first few virtual rounds to drive the ball more than 175 yards, something I have no trouble doing on a real course. However, when my sister dropped by on Easter weekend for a visit, it took her no more than a half dozen swings before she drove a ball 261 yards. Now, I love my sister and all but there’s no way she can hit a ball 261 in real life. What does this mean in the big picture? You don’t have to be an experienced golfer to have success with Real World Golf; it only takes a good, technically sound swing. I’d be curious to see a professional golfer take a few hacks with Real World Golf though, just to see what kind of results they’d get in terms of driving distance.
The biggest weakness in Real World Golf is the putting mechanics. Even on the highest difficulty setting, once you reach the green the computer provides you with the exact line to the hole; all you have to do is make sure you hit the ball with the right weight. Why the game doesn’t challenge players to judge the contours of the greens I don’t know, but it makes putting far too easy. There’s a saying in golf that says golfers “drive for show, putt for dough,” but in Real World Golf it’s the exact opposite; you’ll win or lose holes, rounds and tournaments based on how well you drive and chip because nobody is going to three-putt any holes in this game.
When you take away the Gametrak Game System, Real World Golf is a fairly pedestrian golf game, particularly with respect to the presentation. The audio and visuals are nowhere near as crisp or detailed as the Tiger Woods PGA Tour series, nor are the gameplay modes as in-depth. Real World Golf also doesn’t sport the PGA Tour license, which means you won’t be able to play against real-life PGA golfers, unless you know one personally that you can invite over for a few swings.
There is multiplayer support in Real World Golf. Up to four players can participate in a round or tournament. This is how it works: the first golfer will play an entire hole, then pass the gloves to the second golfer who plays the same hole, and so on. Every player must create a profile so the Gametrak system can properly translate their swing based on their height. You can purchase additional Trak Gloves for multiplayer use so you don’t have to keep swapping, but you still have to attach and detach the gloves from the base unit after each hole.
Real World Golf retails for $69.99 USD, a little more expensive than your average game, but then again it comes with the Gametrak Game System. In case you’re wondering if Real World Golf is the only use you’ll get out of the device, word has it a baseball game is in the works.
When all is said and done, Real World Golf is a novel idea. It gets players up, active and swinging like they were actually at the driving range or golf course; that’s a good thing. With that said, the putting mechanics aren’t up to par and the game isn’t going to blow anyone away in terms of presentation, but if you’re a golf fan that would rather swing a club, even a mini one at that, as opposed to pushing a few buttons or moving an analog stick around, you very well might want to consider taking a hack at Real World Golf.