Thursday, March 22, 2007

"Golf Simulator" is awful close to real thing

If you are a golf nut, as am I, there's a unique videogame solution you may want to give a try. Electric-Spin's new Golf Launchpad is really more golf than videogame and it allows you to play some of the world's best courses in your living room, or wherever you've got at least eight to 10 feet of ceiling clearance. You can even play opponents online.

This is a simply ingenious piece of equipment that works with compatible EA Sports Tiger Woods titles on the PC, Mac and PS2. It also works with Links.

What it is, really, is a small mat with a ball attached to an arm -- one of those indoor practice tools you see for sale all the time at Wal-Mart.

You hit the ball and it gyrates in a circle on the arm. Using a USB port, you link the mat up to the game and all of a sudden when you hit the ball on the mat, the ball on the screen reacts.

So instead of using your controller, you use your golf club. If you don't have enough room to swing a driver, you can use a special power meter to allow the sensor to adjust so that an iron swing gives you driver distance.

It adds a serious element of realism to swing real clubs and watch your results on real-life courses. You chip. You drive. You putt. It's almost like getting a good practice session in. Best I can tell, the distances and direction of your shots is pretty accurate and the fun factor is high. I worked up quite a sweat playing 72 holes in one session at Pebble Beach (and I did reach 18 in two shots twice).

This is one of the best games I've tried in a while. At $250, it ain't cheap, but it sure is a whole lot of fun (Grade: A).

Tiger Woods PGA Tour 07, Wii Version: It's not the near-golf experience that the Golf Launchpad is, but EA Sports Wii version of TW is pretty cool, too. Using the Wii-mote like a golf club, you make golf motions to hit shots.

You've got 18 courses and 35 golfers to play with, including Tiger. But the cool thing, again, is using the motion controller like a golf club (you can add the Nunchuk for a traditional videogame swing; but why?).

The game has all the modes you've come to expect in any TW game, including multiplayer, PGA Season and practice. The 480P widescreen support looks good, too. It's not as sharp as Tiger's game on PS3 or 360, but the controller makes up some of that difference, too.

Honestly, I was waiting on this game when I played golf on the WiiSports game that comes with the unit. I was not disappointed.

Between this and the Launchpad, I may turn in my golf membership (Grade: A-minus)

....OK, just kidding about the membership part.

Virtua Tennis 3: I used to love this title on some of the older game consoles from Sega, which has delivered a new title for Xbox 360, PS3 and PSP. I got to try the 360 and PS3 versions. I always like it when we get both next-next gen versions so we can compare graphics.

PS3 wins here. Players are a little larger, a little sharper and the backgrounds are cleaner. Both versions, though, have excellent graphics, nearly jaw-droppingly realistic representations of players like Roger Federer, Maria Sharapova, Andy Roddick, Rafael Nadal and Venus Williams.

This game is pretty easy to play, but advancing is a challenge. The game gets noticeably harder as you move up the ranks. You can create your own player, which is neat, and bring him or her up through the mini-tours, my favorite mode here, or you can pick one of the 20 pros and play some head-to-head matches.

The mini-games were OK and didn't hold my attention long. Xbox live was phenomenal. It still amazes me to see how stunning the game looks and how it maintains its presentation even while playing online. There's even a specatator mode where you can watch other players or watch replays, including close line calls.

The PS3 version supports the "tilt" feature in the controller fully, so not only can your fingers and thumbs affect play, so can titling the controller, which can help reach for balls that are wide or high (Grade: B-plus).

Armored Core 4: Want to fight? Armored Core 4 is all action and it looks as good as the Terminator movies. Seriously.

I couldn't tell much difference between the 360 and PS3 versions, but I can tell you that playing war games online is awful fun.

In this fourth installment of the popular series, which is only for folks, say, 16 and up, the world is hurting because of population growth and food shortages (sounds like Al Gore's movie warnings). People have turned streets into war zones and governments have turned to a sort of martial law to try to restore order.

Some of the arms dealers got awful powerful and formed their own war factions. Six of these corporations decided to remove power from the politicized nations and started a war against them -- and the corporations won using 30 super machines called Armored Core mechs.

Under this new world order, people were colonized and worked for food and life. A rebel group, called the Ravens, emerged, not accepting this slave-like existence. Using your own mechs, you battle the corporations in a never-ending stream of bullets and bombs and destruction. There are nearly 40 missions and online, you can battle with up to eight other mechs. You can even customize your rig.

This is a very intense game with very real-looking consequences. It's dark and grim and delivered to the right audience, it is a very entertaining title. Parents are warned, though, to be careful about letting kids play this one (Grade: B-plus).


Golfschlaeger said...

Golf swig flexibility was not sufficient to require a significant change connects with a minimum voltage output. Many amateur golfers suffer from the syndrome of big swing "because of the lack of appropriate flexibility golf swing. To arrive at this optimum point in a swing can be achieved, it does not matter how drive of a player tries to swing. The maximum power and distance using the driver off the tee will never be reached, the muscle tension actually slows the clubhead down. said...

Quite useful material, thanks so much for the post.