Our good friends at Oxygen Interactive have been so kind to send us this bunch of new screens on their forthcoming World Tour Golf title - coming in August - which they claim is the first accurate videogame representation of golf.
World Tour Golf is being developed by UK outfit Gusto Games and was conceived, according to Oxygen’s PR department, “...in appreciation of the growing popularity of the sport and as a reaction to the increasingly arcade-focused gameplay in console golf games.” David Wilshire, the game’s producer, tells us: “Where World Tour Golf differs is that this is an absolutely faithful adaptation of the sport.”
Oxygen is focusing on two main USP’s with World Tour Golf. Firstly, offering “...a groundbreaking new control system”, to give the player the same level control over the swing enjoyed by golfing professionals in real life. Secondly, by offering a heavy focus on user-created content, in addition to the usual selection of famous real-world courses.
Oxygen claims that an underlying principle has remained from the beginning of golfing videogames, which is that the player approaches golf in a game as a game, and not as golf.
“In real golf, the player approaches the ball with a number of factors to consider: weight distribution, position of ball relative to feet, angle of the club head, and so on. But all the while in video game versions of golf, the player simply learns to press buttons or move a stick in a way which bears no resemblance to the real sport.”
And while there have been various different control methods attempted – we immediately think of touch-screen golf on the Nintendo DS or swinging a little mini-stick to simulate the actual movement of striking a golf ball in titles such as Real World Golf – Oxygen dismisses these as mere ‘gimmicks’.
For the first time, we are told: “World Tour Golf brings the elements of the shot and the swing together to create the first accurate videogame representation of the sport, without the need for special hardware and on all major formats.”
Wilshire goes on to tell how the Pro Stroke system in the game works: “You won’t be choosing any of your shots from a menu. Instead our [Pro Stroke] control system provides a genuine evolution of analogue control, offering each player the ability to shape and adapt a shot in an infinite number of ways.”
He also outlines how this Pro Stroke control method works in practice: “After determining the relative positions of his feet and the ball, the player takes the shot using two analogue sticks instead of one. The first is your traditional swing of the club, it works like other golf games you might know. A smooth straight movement means a straighter shot. However you’ll only ever be able to put 90% of the power into a shot using this stick alone. To get some real power into the shot you’ll need to make use of the other analogue stick.”
“Moving both sticks simultaneously will achieve 100% power, while moving them a fraction of a second apart (with the left analogue stick finishing first) can give you as much as 110% power, but your accuracy will suffer as a result. Timing with this move is crucial – if you finish with the left analogue stick too late, you’ll be leaning back, thus hitting the ball higher and shorter, or moving the left analogue stick too early will result in a low trajectory shot.
“You can use these effects to your advantage though. If you lean your golfer onto his back foot, you’ll open up the clubface and apply more loft and backspin while at the same time shortening the distance the ball will travel. This is the ideal stroke for playing over nearby obstacles such as bunkers or water features.”
The only difference to this will be the PSP version of the game, as Sony’s handheld lacks a second analogue stick, as Wilshire outlines: “We’ve managed to come up with a hybrid analogue and digital system that still allows you to control your weight distribution to get more shot power whilst giving you control over the shape of your shots.”
In terms of the game’s courses – there are 18 well-known courses to choose from, including The Belfry’s Brabazon and Lake Nona in Florida. There is also, more interestingly, “...a very powerful system to recreate courses, which is something that we’ve built into the game for players to toy with.”
Two new aspects in World Tour Golf’s course editor are the fact that you can play a course as you fiddle with it: moving trees, adding bunkers, changing gradients, removing ponds, and so on; and secondly, courses can be emailed from your PC, or transferred between PSPs, so players can share courses they have designed.
World Tour Golf sounds like it has a truly innovative control method - Gusto has written its own physics engine to give the game the control needed to create a convincing game of golf. It will be interesting to see the final game and see how it compares with the genre’s big hitters such as Tiger Woods and Links.
SPOnG will be sure to get a hands-on with World Tour Golf as soon as we can to report back on how well it works. We’d better get down the local pitch and putt for some practice.