NBC Sports Real Golf
It looks good, but that's about all Real Golf has going for it...
NBC Sports Real Golf did to me the opposite of what most mobile games do. Usually I begin a game, become slightly underwhelmed at how shallow it seems to be, but then inevitably end up getting sucked in for a couple hours, ignoring email, phonecalls, etc. Real Golf on the other hand actually made a positive first impression thanks to the (literally) photorealistic graphics, but the more I played the more maddening I found the entire experience to be.
Rather than build courses and characters out of polygons (or sprites), Real Golf uses real images (hence the title, I suppose). After you've set your shot power and accuracy, you see your photorealistic golfer tee off, and the ball sails into a photographic backdrop. There are a number of different photo backdrops used, according to where your particular lie is that shot. When you're teeing off the static view is a long gaze down the fairway, and when you're in the rough trying to chip onto the green, the photo is a moderately accurate representation.
The problem is that this concept breaks down extremely quickly. Sometimes you'll have giant bodies of water in front or to the side of you according to the overhead view, but they then don't appear in that shot's photo background. Likewise for trees, bunkers, and virtually any other course element. The concept isn't bad, but many, many more photos than Real Golf includes would be necessary for it to truly work.
The gameplay itself, like the visuals, are a mixed bag. Real Golf's long game is inoffensive enough, and plays very similar to nearly every other golf title, mobile or otherwise. A bar rises and a properly-timed button press sets shot power. As the bar descends a second press is used to set shot accuracy.
The big problem is with Real Golf's short game. I've had chip-shots that seem to fall right on top of the pin, but when my putt is lined up the game insists I'm seven feet away from the hole. I'm not even convinced it's possible to get a chip-in, actually. The putting game is equally frustrating. The indicators for green elevation are just a single set of solid-colored lines - not even a grid, let alone any color gradients to judge elevation. Even if I had the ability to accurately read greens, putting would still be a frustration, thanks to its demanding accuracy. I think I (at a minimum) had to two-putt every single hole I ever played. I would line up my power and accuracy perfectly, but the ball would still regularly end up a few inches short, or long.
Graphical experimentation aside, the entire experience is just lackluster. There is just one course, no career mode to speak of, and no stats. Basically, no frills of any kind, besides a pass 'n play two-player option. I guess that isn't entirely true - you can pick different club sets with different attributes, and pick the speed of the greens/fairway. Still, golf is a well-represented genre on mobile. Real Golf isn't all bad, but there's not much reason to give it a look.
What's Hot: Photorealistic graphics make a good first impression
What's Not: Graphics eventually fall apart. Pour putting game. One Course.