Developer: Gameloft
Price: $6.99
Version Reviewed: 1.0.0
Device Reviewed On: iPod Touch

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★☆☆
Game Controls Rating: ★★★☆☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★★½☆
Replay Value Rating: ★★★★☆
Rating: ★★★☆☆

Given the recent scandal facing Tiger Woods, it would seem to be the perfect time for an upstart new golf franchise to come knock the Tiger Woods PGA Tour series down a peg or two. Gameloft fancied Real Golf 2011 to be just that game, but this one comes up short of the flag and finishes the hole with a disappointing bogey.

The premise of the game is solid and the gameplay is pretty straightforward: take one of your favorite real-life golfers, put them on actual courses and then use simple swiping motions to knock the ball from tee to green. The game boasts an impressive roster of PGA and LPGA pros such as Jim Furyk, Justin Rose, Natalie Gulbis and Annika Sorenstam, as well as great courses like the much-revered Bethpage Black. Unfortunately, the game can’t get every great golfer and venue, but there’s still a respectable number of pros considering that this isn’t quite a world-renowned franchise.

Swinging the club is as simple as picking your target and then swiping your finger up the side of the swing for your takeaway and then back down again for the follow-through. For the most part it works rather well and the game is pretty forgiving about mishits and overswings. At least that’s the case until you get around the green.

Putting is another world entirely and it’s in this aspect that the game starts to fall apart. The swing mechanic that holds up for drivers and irons is insufficient for putting, as it doesn’t allow for even nearly the degree of precision necessary to accurately wield the flatstick. While the game gives you a suggested power for your putts it’s almost always wrong, leading to rockets that shoot a mile past the hole or feeble putts that barely move a blade of grass. On top of all this the breaks in the green are incredibly difficult to read and the title’s two locked perspectives for examining angles is disjointed and jarring. Many decent rounds will fall apart due to the shoddy putting mechanics.

Another big negative is that the game is downright ugly, with blocky, jagged character models and drab, lifeless courses. Nuances of the actual sport like Jim Furyk’s unique driving stroke or Sergio Garcia’s limb-contorting green reads are lost on identical character models skinned so they somewhat resemble the pro you selected. On the courses themselves it’s often difficult to distinguish fairways from rough or, more importantly, rough from out-of-bounds. Thus what seems like a shot played directly into a safe lie will many times wind up in deep grass or worse.

This app is serviceable if you need some sort of golf game on your mobile device but can’t bring yourself to support anything associated with Tiger Woods. Otherwise, spend your cash on EA’s superior game, you’ll be glad you did.

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