There's a very significant level of abstraction that happens in video games that imitate real-life activities. When it comes to golf video games, even the analog swing mechanic found in the Tiger Woods PGA Tour games, while a visceral improvement over the meter-based swing mechanics that previously dominated golf video games, is still only symbolic of actually standing out on the fairway and swinging a golf club. MadCatz, a company best known for aftermarket video game console peripherals, attempts to deliver an even more authentic golfing experience with Real World Golf for the PlayStation 2 and Xbox. There's an undeniable novelty to standing in your living room and pretending you're actually playing golf, and if you're the kind of person who can't spend enough time at the driving range, Real World Golf is probably right up your alley. But if you're interested in more than just some kind of golf pantomime, Real World Golf will leave you wanting.
It's hard not to feel like a marionette when playing Real World Golf.
Ditching any kind of conventional controller, Real World Golf comes packed with a black box, dubbed the Gametrak, which you set on the floor in front of you. Two mesh gloves attach to a pair of ball-and-socket ports on the top of the Gametrak via thin plastic retracting cords. Wearing the gloves, you stand over the Gametrak while holding a stumpy plastic golf club, which is also included with the game, and swing through like you would when actually playing golf. The game calibrates itself by having you place your hands on your head while wearing the gloves, providing it with a rough estimate of your swing potential--so, if you want to trick the game into thinking you're some kind of mutant golf powerhouse, just hold your hands at chest level, and then presto, you're launching the ball 300 yards off the tee.
Save for this obvious loophole, the Gametrak is pretty good at what it does, and it's able to pick up on certain nuances, such as how you're making contact with the imaginary ball or how you're facing the golf club. For those with real-world golf experience, it can feel really awkward holding a hollow, plastic, foot-long abbreviation of an actual golf club at first, though it's better than holding nothing at all, and it works as a visual touchstone for determining how the game thinks you are facing the in-game club. Once you get the hang of it, though, it doesn't take long to figure out how to slice and fade shots, or add a little backspin. It can, however, be difficult to produce those results with real consistency.
As much subtlety as Real World Golf is able to pick up when you're out on the fairway, the illusion falls apart once you get your ball onto the putting green, where it lines up the shot perfectly for you, and all you have to do is put the appropriate amount of power behind your swing. It's a trend that isn't unusual for any golf video game, really, though it is that much more glaring when Real World Golf goes to considerable lengths to engender a sense of realism.