World Golf Tour

World Golf TourI have been meaning to blog about this for literally months. I get countless hits from Google with people searching for MMO Sports Games (I have a couple posts on the subject). I still feel strongly that eventually someone is going to figure out a viable MMO Sports Game. I think golf is probably going to be the game that succeeds in this genre. Shot-Online came close, but the cartoony golf game never grabbed me. Enter World Golf Tour.

I actually first read about WGT in Fortune Magazine, of all places. The article raves about how realistic it felt and how it is the future of online sports gaming. With that kind of praise, I had to check it out.

World Golf Tour

It’s a pretty solid little golf game. As far as I can tell, there’s only a 9-hole demo at PGA Charity site, but the company behind WGT seems to have raised a decent amount of funding, and has a backing from TaylorMade Golf (my personal club of choice).

World Golf Tour

Graphically, WGT is beautiful. The mouse controls almost feel natural. The Tiger Woods swing stick is still my favorite but WGT’s controls aren’t bad. It’s hard to gauge all aspects of the game, due to the fact that right now, you can only play a closest-to-the-pin challenge. Hopefully that will change soon in future beta tests.

World Golf Tour

I am intrigued so far. It will be interesting to see how good WGT turns out to be. With things like friends lists, teams and other options, WGT could give Shot-Online a run for its MMOGolf money.

360 Demo Thursdays (Tiger Woods 07)

I had planned on trying an older demo this week, catching up on some of the demos that came out before I bought my 360, but the Tiger Woods demo dropped earlier this week and I thought that would be more enjoyable. Even though I haven’t been kind to EA lately, I read Tycho’s praise for the demo on Monday and had to give it a try. Tycho groks, as they say, golf.

The download itself comes in just under a gig and presents a pretty sparse demo – you play as Tiger, you’re given a handful of holes and your thrown into the game not needing much else. The last Tiger Woods game I played was TW ’05 on the Xbox, which I loved, but it had too many frilly extras I didn’t care for. Luckily, the basic swing mechanics were the same, so there wasn’t much of a learning curve.

With such a basic demo, what could be gleaned? A lot. Tycho followed up his initial praise with a more substantial post yesterday and it succintly captures the truth — this looks like it is going to be a good game of golf.

EA Sports, surprisingly, is headed in the right direction here. Gone is all the hyper-drama. No more flaming drives. No more shots of your swing from thirty different angles. No more controller-shaking heart beats. Just a simple golf swing, a flying, spinning ball. It starts with the crisp sound of metal on ball and ends with the soft thud of ball landing on green. No dramatic zooms into Tiger’s squinting eyes as he wills the ball into the hole. As far as I can tell, there’s no “doing the worm” after sinking a long putt. Just the golfer, the swing and the landing. Quite beautiful in its simplicity.

I also like the changes to the putting game. It’s different from the 2005 version (not sure how it matches up to the 2006 version). Gone are guessing what “4 feet long, 19 inches left” looks like. Now you see the contours of the green and where they break. Very intuitive and much easier, in my opinion. This change alone makes me very happy.

But not all is perfect. I still don’t like that you can add spin to the ball as its flying through the air. That’s bothered me since TW2003. It just doesn’t fit for me. I also wish they put a big Swoosh watermark on the screen and get it over with. Every shot of Tiger has two or three prominent Nike swooshes on full display. We get it! Tiger and Nike are synonymous any more. We don’t need you to shove it down our throats. It sure would be nice if the game was cheaper, though, with all the eyeballs your advertising to. But that’s a different rant.

Overall, I’m very intrigued by TW07. They’ve distilled previous versions of a decent game into a game that is approaching reality. Based on the demo alone, Tiger Woods 07 may be the first 360 game I actually purchase. It was that good.

Extravaganza Recap

Well, as is often the case, even though I had lots of free time, I didn’t get to do everything I had hoped to do during my “free time.” There never seems to be enough hours in the day.

One thing I did accomplish was playing a lot of golf. I got in 45 holes in a 24 hour period. That’s a lot of golf. I golfed some of my best golf, which always makes the rounds that much better. I had two chip-ins for birdies, which for me is a rarity to do it once, so doing it twice in a weekend is close to golf Nirvana.

As far as gaming goes, I got some time online with Halo 2, finally played Brinstar for our STOB match (I won 0-(-1), not very convincingly) and I picked up the New Super Mario Brothers (more on that later). One game that I didn’t play, surprisingly, was EVE-Online. I think it’s time that EVE and I start seeing other people. I may go back to it, but currently there are other games I’d rather play, which means EVE goes into hibernation. I’m not giving up on it, it’s just no longer a priority, and if I don’t plan on paying for something I’m not playing.

So now the family is back in town, bringing this year’s extravaganza to a close.

True Swing Golf, again

True Swing Golf
Thanks to Bill, now I’ll have to rethink my feelings on True Swing Golf. He says it’s a blast. He also notes what other reviewers have pointed out – you can’t have a bad swing. That sounds like bad design. Maybe it is, but it isn’t a deal breaker:

Here’s the strange thing, though: it’s almost impossible to mishit a shot. Using the stylus on a regular shot always seems to result in a nearly straight outcome, no matter if you’re contacting the center of the ball or not. That sounds like an absolute deal breaker, and it should be, but course management, even with straight shots, is very challenging, and I can’t seem to stop playing. The effects of lie and slope are almost flawless, and in particular, it models shots to uphill greens better than any golf game I’ve ever played.

I like reading Bills reviews and he’s usually spot-on, so now I’m considering TSG again. Man, I wish my Blockbuster rented DS games!

Another double bogey

I’ve mentioned in the past that I’m pretty excited about True Swing Golf for the DS. Having played (and hated) Tiger Woods I was really looking forward to TSG. Eurogamer had good things to say about it last year, but now things aren’t looking as peachy. Gamespot gives it a poor score and Modojo dogs it pretty bad, too. Of course, perrenial grade-inflater IGN.com gives it an 8.0, so there’s that. So what to do. I don’t trust many online reviews, but reading Gamespot’s pointed out that character progression is almost non-existent. That’s a bummer, it’s what I was hoping would be there. From the gameplay and graphics I really thought this would have some type of RPG elements, but it looks like there’s nothing there.

It’s unfortunate that the game is a stinker. I had high hopes, but I guess I’ll have to wiat.

Speaking of Golf…

I’m always about two weeks behind on my Penny-Arcade reading, so I just came across this one tonight:

Absolutely hilarious. So my golf fantasies have come full-circle: I checked my Yahoo Fantasy Golf League (yes, Virginia, there is Fantasy Golf), played a round of Shot-Online, got my Penny-Arcade golf comic fix, and in about six and a half hours, I’ll be hitting the links with some friends (and fellow-buttonmashers) for a round of early morning golf. I should be asleep right now but I’m too giddy with anticipation.

Golf is life!