The past few years have been rife with innovation as far as games controllers are concerned. We’ve had microphones you sing into, mats you dance on, maracas you shake, and a web-cam you perform in front of, to name but a few. Frankly, we’re all for titles that are willing to play around with the traditional choice of keyboard or gamepad, and thus we warmly welcomed GameTrak: Real World Golf into our lives. Sadly, our hospitality was not fully appreciated.
Still, let’s not jump ahead. GameTrak is a system that involves a pad on the floor for you to tap (acting as a fire button, if you will), and a base unit. Attached to this base unit are two gloves, connected by an elasticated cord. The idea is that the player slips on the gloves and then the GameTrak can trace the player’s movements and they’re replicated on screen. To add to the effect, bundled in is a short plastic golf club. Yup, you really are expected to stand in front of the telly and swing a golf club, with your motions captured and reflected on screen.
If it sounds a little cumbersome, then panic not, for it’s easy to set it up and go through the simple calibration system. We were suitably impressed.
And then we loaded the game. The beauty of the likes of SingStar, Dancing Stage and EyeToy is that, underneath the fancy hardware, there were games that you genuinely wanted to play for some period of time. Sadly, Real World Golf slips up right there, at the golf stage.
For the game itself is an unsophisticated, albeit entirely competent re-creation of the sport. Sure, it’s challenging, and there are useful tutorials to help you get the – ho ho – swing of it. But compared to a Tiger Woods or a Links, the gameplay itself doesn’t feel substantial, and you can find yourself pinging through well enough without really trying.
To help offset this, there is a series of party games to try, including variants of darts, target practice and suchlike. These are quite good fun for a short while, but you should bear in mind that switching player isn’t just a matter of handing over a gamepad. Instead you have to give someone else the gloves and get their player profile and calibration settings loaded, which kind of stilts the spontaneity of it all.
Don’t get us wrong; the game itself is not bad. But it’s nothing special, and doesn’t complement the strong GameTrak system (which recognised our movements pretty much faultlessly) in the way that EyeToy Play worked so well with the EyeToy, for instance.
Considering that the game and the GameTrak system (which does work with other titles) will set you back the best part of £50, this is an innovation which we suspect most will be happy to leave on the shelf for now, although the technology itself is interesting and has plenty of potential.