Mineshaft Pro Series Golf v1.39

Discussion in 'JAVA Aplication & Game' started by aapkae, Nov 17, 2009.

  1. aapkae

    aapkae New Member

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    Which is not to say that Pro Series Golf is perfect - far from it. Sometimes jerky animation, inexplicable pauses mid-swing, awkward shot changing and poor modelling of ball lies are blemishes which threaten to spoil the game. Luckily, there's one huge advance which outweighs all of the above - Pro Series Golf uses the N-Gage Arena to good effect, meaning that you can play against real people in real time even if they're on the other side of the world. Or, in Rafe's case, Sussex.
    First impressions are great, as the game title screens look and sound very slick. Pro Series Golf works in portrait or either landscape mode, so it's easy to play the game in the way which suits you best. Interestingly, the number keypad is almost completely ignored, with the interface simplified to just the d-pad, plus '1' a couple of times per round, for the somewhat awkward procedure of changing your shot type (e.g. 'Chip' to 'Pitch'). The game's developer does admit that Mineshaft weren't able to put in all the things they wanted to - I'd have liked to see number keys mapped to applying ball spin, for example - something which isn't possible in this version of the game.
    Game modes include '1' through to '4' player games, made up of mixtures of local humans and computer players, plus 'Career' and 'N-Gage Arena'. I played through several rounds on the opening course, trying to unlock the second course, to no avail - it turns out that you have to progress through stages of Career mode in order to unlock courses for general play. This is a bit of a hassle as the opening few challenges in Career mode involve multiple computer players and you have to have patience to sit through the animation of all their shots. A hotkey to bypass such animations would have been nice. Incidentally, the trial version gives you three full holes in 1-player mode - but this is fine for casual players and is in fact exactly the same slice of trial action that the famous EA's PGA Tour Golf used, back in the early 1990s - and which in turn inspired me to write the aforementioned Fairway - those parallels just keep on coming. But all game modes pale besides going online to play against others. Once you've tried online multiplayer gaming, it's hard to go back to pitting your wits against a mere computer. Previous N-Gage games have scurried around online play but Pro Series Golf hits this full-on. It's true there's no overall online ranking for ability or ladder system, but it proved very easy to arrange to meet a friend (e.g. Rafe) in a particular course's 'lobby' and set up an immediate online game. Latency was very short, less than a second, so there was little time wasted while waiting for your next turn. I missed any facility to send messages to the other player(s) - maybe this was something else left out for time/resource reasons. Rafe and I resorted to chatting on Skype while playing instead, by the way! One tip - don't challenge Rafe to a game without doing lots of practice first - he's quite good!
    Online play. N-Gage integration is pretty slick and setting up a game was a piece of cake While waiting for a turn, a scrolling banner on the screen makes it clear that you don't need to do anything yet. And when your opponent strikes the ball, you see him or her in TV-style, taking the shot, followed (again) by a TV-style tracking shot or landing. And after each hole, you both see the scorecard, of course. There aren't any victory frills though - not even a 'You won' screen - another omission by the stretched developer?
    'Wait' screens like this were quite brief...
    Pro Series Golf - virtual courses and taking the shot
    It has to be said that the half dozen or so courses in Pro Series Golf are stunning. The scenery is almost exclusively static, but it's there, it's in full 3D and it's gorgeous - I particularly liked the texture/pattern on bodies of water, giving the impression of sunlight sparkling on the ripples. Each course is modelled accurately, as far as I could tell, and playing each hole has its own challenges. There's full contour modelling too, so hillocks and dips (and bunkers!) are all here in 3D-navigable glory.
    Look at that 3D contouring and modelling - plus 'sparkles' on the water The developers have done a stunning job in optimising their 3D code, with hole flybys and ball animations appearing surprisingly fluid and with only the occasional stutter and the rapidly warming device alerting you to the fact that the phone's processor is working flat out to generate your virtual golfing world. (In fact, playing an hour of Pro Series Golf is enough to get through half a full charge on an N95 8GB - but seeing as I've just explained why the battery is being hammered so much, I think this is acceptable.) Before taking a shot, it's a good idea to examine the wind and ball-to-hole elevation. I'd say ball lie as well, but (apart from sometimes limiting which clubs you can use) this doesn't seem to affect shots at all. You then compare the distance to the hole with the maximum distance of the club you're using and work out roughly how hard to hit the ball (e.g. 95%). There's then the standard three-click method (as used in PGA Tour Golf, Fairway and tons of others) to determine the power of the shot and the timing. This latter is crucial because any errors cause slice or hook and result in the ball swinging to right or left (into rough, bunker or water, normally!).
    Replaying a shot (handily showing the swing indicator) and an example of part of a TV-style ball track shot Putting is also three clicks, but aiming is accomplished by lining up the ball roll preview line with the whole - this is where the ball will go if you hit it perfectly. In reality you'll mess up power or timing and so the ball's path will vary. After 10 hours of play, I'd rate the difficulty level of the whole golfing experience as about right. It's often hard enough just to make par and when you do get a birdie or even an eagle, it's a whoop-it-up moment.
    Putting uses a novel new method of aiming - you'd think you'd get the ball in every time with such a good aid, but you have to hit the power/timing control dead-on in order for the ball to actually follow that path
    Pro Series Golf - problems
    In the face of the positives above, it seems churlish to dwell on a few more negatives, in addition to those already mentioned, but I need to be complete. As I said above, Career mode throws up some relatively tedious matches, which you have to win (I think) in order to unlock new courses. This takes a lot of skill and luck and in the meantime you're stuck with only one course to practice on, even though you've paid for the whole game. Career mode also launches you into a 'Skins' game and there are no help screens in Pro Series Golf to turn to. With the complexities of computer golf, I'd have expected some kind of help or tutorial mode. Something else that the developers didn't have time to add. And add also outfits for the computer players, who all look alike. And play alike, sometimes hitting the ball to within a few inches of each other - there needs to be more randomness here.

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