Total Pro Golf Review (PC)
You may not recognize the name Wolverine Studios, but most text-based sports fans will recognize the owner of the company, Gary Gorski. Gorski developed the great text-based basketball game, Total Pro Basketball, among other notable games. His new studio’s first release is Total Pro Golf. Unlike most text-based simulators, in Total Pro Golf, you don’t take the role of an owner or GM. You take on the life of a professional golfer. You pick your caddy and coach. You choose your sponsor and equipment. You decide whether you will rest, practice specific skills or play a practice round each day. While all of this detail is great, a question has to be asked: Can't you do most of this in graphics-based games like Tiger Woods or Links? If the answer to that question is "yes", then a follow-up question has to be: Why should you buy this game?
Most sports text-based sims offer you a deeper and more immersive experience than their graphics-based counterparts. For example, Gary Gorski’s Total Pro Basketball offers you more options when it comes to managing a team, drafting and statistics then NBA Live 07 and NBA 2K7 will. Those options make sports text-based sims a viable companion (and in some cases, replacement) to a graphics-based game. However, Total Pro Golf doesn’t offer many options that can’t be found in other games. This isn’t to say that the game doesn’t offer any exclusive options.
One feature that I love about this game and all of Gary Gorski/Wolverine Studios titles is the Almanac. The Almanac contains the entire history of your career. What is also great about it is that you aren’t limited to just viewing your golfer’s career. You can see who was the 2007 U.S. Open champion and what was the longest drive of Phil Mickelson’s career. The in-game options are plentiful, and you can do pretty much anything from the interface. That said, I wish that there were a few more swing and approach options. The game presents you with three options from the tee: normal, over-swing and easy swing - and while those are sufficient, I would like to see other options such as spin in future editions. The caddy feature is a great idea, but it’s not really implemented correctly. During a tournament, I asked the caddy for advice several times, and many times I received the same response, which really didn’t help me.
Total Pro Golf offers pretty much what you would expect in a text-based golf simulator. The game is completely customizable, meaning that you can add real-life courses, leagues, players and sponsors to the game. Once you begin to add mods to the game, you will find that the game offers additional longevity not expected when you first purchase the game. Adding real-life players and courses to the game also helps with immersion. The sound is pretty basic, but on par with most text-based sports simulators. The game features the sound of a golf swing, putt, the ball going in to the hole and various crowd sounds such as cheers and groans. I hope in upcoming years actual play-by-play commentary will be used in text-based simulators, but in Total Pro Golf, we will have to accept a play-by-play text window. The window is sufficient, and since golf is not a play-by-play heavy sport, it works well.
One big plus -- and a rarity in most text-based games -- is that Total Pro Golf has practically no bugs upon release. Usually following the release of a text-based sports simulator, a visit to the game company’s forum will find many disgruntled customers upset that the game froze or does not work at all. Total Pro Golf worked on both of my computers, and looking at the game’s forum shows that few people are having problems with the game. Another plus about most text-based games and almost every Gary Gorski release is that he is more than willing to patch the game to fix issues and add features to the game. This kind of customer service is hard to find in the console gaming world.
So do I recommend Total Pro Golf? Yes, but only to big golf fans and as a companion to one of the major golf releases. I cant recommend this to casual fans, because the game only offers enough to keep the interest of hardcore fans. Still, true golf fans will find this game just as immersive and enjoyable as Gary Gorski’s other text-based sports sims.