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iPhone  header logo

Real Golf 2011

For: iPhone

An ambitious drive that ends up in the bunker

Product: Real Golf 2011 | Developer: Gameloft | Publisher: Gameloft | Format: iPhone | Genre: Sports | Players: 1-2 | Networking: wireless (adhoc), wireless (network), Bluetooth | Version: Europe | App version: 1.0.0
 
Real Golf 2011 iPhone, thumbnail 1
Unusual given the civilised nature of the sport, golf has become a virtual battlefield on iPhone and iPod touch, contested by two surprisingly disparate but equally acclaimed parties.

On one side, representing realism and offering a decent approximation of the mechanics of golf, we have EA Mobile and its Tiger Woods PGA Tour. On the other side, standing for instant gratification and a cartoony take on the sport, is Gameloft with Let’s Golf 2.

That uneasy truce can be considered broken, as Gameloft takes a deliberate step onto EA’s beautifully maintained turf. It’s time for Real Golf.

Coming out swinging

Gameloft means business. It's got ten courses to seven in Tiger Woods PGA Tour, double the number of players, and multiplayer, which speaks directly to the game's ambitions. But golf has never been about the numbers.

What counts is the feel on the green, and in that respect Real Golf 2011 falls well short of its illustrious rival. It seems as if Gameloft has reached too far, producing a game heavy on features and modes, neglecting gameplay.

Nowhere is this more apparent than the swing mechanic. Gameloft has outright copied EA Mobile's approach with a vertical meter used to set the power and accuracy of your swings. Dragging a finger down the meter sets the power, while sliding it back up establishes accuracy and finishes the shot.

Unfortunately, the setup fails to provide any level of challenge and it’s pretty easy to score a straight shot every time. It lacks the satisfyingly rhythmic power boost element and overall instinctive, nuanced feel of Tiger Woods PGA Tour.

Putter fingers

On the green, things get a little better. The putting mechanics are straightforward and functional. Not only is it a lot simpler to judge distance and power thanks to a crystal clear power gauge, but the auto-putt system kicks in helpfully in tight situations.

Curiously, the camera pans low during putts. This has the negative effect of limiting your view on the green, which results in having to practically strain your neck to get an elevated view. The alternative view isn’t much better.

Then there are the numerous sloppy repetitions. Take the cheesy commentator, for example, who sounds like he’s providing the voiceover for an American game show.

Alongside such teeth-grinding repetitions as “Easy, Eeeeasy” every time a putt goes a little long, he chips in with some of the most inane wittering imaginable. My favourite: “This hole is going to be a long one.”

Other irritations include an occasionally unwieldy menu system, which reaches new heights of awkwardness when purchasing new clubs and balls in Career mode. It seems to be a twitchy puzzle game in its own right.

Into the rough

The visuals and animations are of a relatively high standard, but Gameloft doesn’t seem to know where to draw the line. As such, there are far too many superfluous and unskippable animations that disrupt the flow of the game.

Prior to many of your shots, for example, there’s a scripted animation of your golfer doing a little warm-up wriggle. Its unskippable, tacked-on nature is so crudely obvious there’s even a quick fade transition as control is reinstated.

The game also takes the baffling decision to show you every competing computer player’s shot, complete with incidental animations.

Okay, so Greg Norman is upset that he put the ball into the bunker on the eighth. I don't care - can I play my shot now, please? These opposition turns are skippable, though never immediately. There ought to be an option to turn these off altogether.

Good recovery

It’s not all bad, though. Real Golf 2011 possesses an involved Career mode that lets you play invitational events and tournaments around the globe in a slow climb from a lowly ranking of 150. In addition, Real Golf 2011 has one major feature that Tiger lacks: online multiplayer.

Utilising Gameloft Live, it’s a doddle to either jump into a game or set one up yourself, and even games that don’t get finished will yield points towards an overall online ranking.

When playing competitively against real players capable of moments of inspiration and calamitous errors, many of the game’s issues fade away.

Indeed, online multiplayer is enough to rescue the game from a lower mark. It’s full of rough edges, all built on top of a slightly crude swing system, but if you prefer your golf to be a social event first and foremost it’s worth considering.
 
Real Golf 2011
Reviewer photo
Jon Mundy | 13 September 2010
Full of rough edges and built on a poor facsimile swing system, Real Golf 2011 comes a distant second in most of the areas that matter despite its online multiplayer
 
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