Review by Didge-O-Mobil92
"For the money I paid for it, I am still yet to receive any value..."
Ah... bowling. A sport that has existed for many a generation, and carries the ability to unearth the hidden talents of your average Joe. While not exactly as popular as golf in terms of sponsorships, endorsements and the people who play it, it is considered to be one of the most popular participation sports in the modern world, with over 100 million people worldwide taking it to the lanes for some ball-rolling, pin-smashing action.
Let's face it, bowling has become so popular that it has its own "jargon", coined over the many years it has existed. You could be unfortunate enough to leave the "Grandma's Teeth" or the 4-6-7-10 split, or you could be lucky enough to land a "turkey", or three consecutive strikes. There are so many things to learn about this sport, which is why I love it so dearly. Hell, I participate in league bowling once a week, where I have had my highs and lows, etched somewhere in my memories.
So you could imagine, when I first saw this game on the shelf in an "EB Games" store around a year or two ago, I looked forward to actually giving it a go, having tried my fair share of video game simulations over the course of my seventeen years of life. Despite the hefty price tag of A$50, I finally convinced myself to try it out, previously being a fan of the first PBA bowling game for the PlayStation 1. Unfortunately, it would turn out to be a nasty rip-off just waiting to happen.
Why, do you ask? Well, besides the fact that I have played a lot of bowling video games that were thoroughly enjoyable and MUCH cheaper, it is just that this is disappointing in so many ways. Even if you compared it to the very first game, you would more than likely support THAT game because it at least attempted to put a unique spin on an otherwise repetitive game, be it through multi-coloured pins (Cosmic Bowling), or playing for cash (Skins), and so on. With this, it is just much shorter in terms of content and thus, much more disappointing.
Before I get to the verdict, I should mention that most of the bowling simulations that I have played either changed the game completely and turned it upside-down (RocketBowl), mixed itself with a unique game that made things more interesting (Atomic Pongling) or turned an ordinary bowling game into a wacky funfest that everyone could enjoy (Saints & Sinners Bowling). Now, it is time to get down to business.
Graphics: 7/10 - Decent, but my bowling alley looks better...
As stated above, the graphics of this game looks pretty good to say the least, but in all honesty, there are barely any graphics to even rate. Simply, you have your bowling ball, the lane, the pins, your player, the background, and that's about it. There really is not much to say about this department.
However, what does bring the score up are the silly little animations that are well drawn out and animated correctly, which appear whenever you strike or spare. That, as well as the realism of the entire experience. When you go out for a quick play or even to start a career, you know and feel that you are in a bowling alley, and not just some miserable hovel that tries to pass off as one. However, this is only one of very few positive points about this game.
Sound: 6/10 - Kinda makes you wish you had a jukebox and some friends...
Well, what can be said about the sound? You have your music and your sound, that's it. Both of those departments don't attempt to make you feel excited about playing this game. You have your ordinary rock or dance-like music to bowl to, which in all honesty is nothing special at all, and the sounds of either crashing pins, a rolling ball or even switching menu options is nothing to get excited about.
Basically put, it is just a number of sound and music cues that you will hear for quite a long time playing this game. With that said though, it at least takes an honest, simple approach that bowling is bowling, what you see is what you get. They aren't just going to make strikes sound like TNT explosives and ball rolling sound like a timpani drum. Hence, the score is brought up. Not to mention, for at least the first few games, the music does actually get you in the mood.
Gameplay: 4/10 - Repetition... killing... brain... must... turn... off... game!
It is well known throughout game history that graphics, music and sound don't make a game by themselves. Obviously, the game must attempt to bring you in to play the game, hence why it is called "gameplay." If I was judging this game based on actual gameplay, it would be receiving a far lesser score than five. But anyway, let's just quit with the flim-flam and get on with it.
When you first start the game, you'll be taken to a menu where you can either do a quick play against three other people, or you can start a career mode. Quick play is self-explanatory, you get your pre-made bowlers and you take it to the lanes in either a standard or pin-select game. Nothing special, and you MAY get at least half an hour to an hour's worth of fun out of it. And then, you have the Career Mode, which again is also self-explanatory.
When you begin a Career, you must create your own player. If I can recall correctly, you don't have many options to play around with. Sure you can choose your clothes and all, but that's really about it. Once you're done, you get taken to a menu, with an Event Select, which is either a head-to-head battle in League Night or a tournament, an overview of your career accomplishments and stats, your league standings or the pro shop. There may be something else I'm missing, but it really does not matter anyway.
Your Pro Shop carries specific equipment made by the Brunswick company that can helpfully boost your stats, such as t-shirts, shoes, bowling balls and so on. Each of these can turn your character into a legend, roughly speaking. Your statistics tell you pretty much everything you have done over your storied career, and your league standing show you where you rank amongst a pile of random computer-controlled characters. As I keep saying, nothing special at all.
Now, to the actual game itself. There is not much to say really, first you set the angle and direction your shot is going to go and how much spin you plan to put on the ball. After you do that, you get carried to this oddly-shaped meter where you determine your accuracy and power by tilting the left analog stick down then up respectively. After that, you can only hope for the best. Wash, rinse and repeat for ten whole frames, and bada-bing, there's your game. It should also be noted that the controls don't always work the way you want, which may reduce your shot's ability of mowing down the pins.
The A.I in this game is really a mixed bag, if nothing else. On the one hand, advanced bowlers can bowl absolutely horrid games despite being online most of the time, while on the other hand, other bowlers can start off bad, and end up coming back from the dead with like nine strikes in a row to absolutely demolish you. It does not help either that your reputation is affected based on whether you win or lose, as well as other factors. The fact that must also be mentioned is that computer players will sometimes miss easy spares, which while does make the game realistic (I have missed my fair share of spares by like a centimetre), it also makes it ridiculous.
Oh, and there is one single thing I have forgot to mention about the gameplay... repetition, hours and hours of it. While it can fight somewhat against complete boredom, it is just that it seems so simple; you set up your shot, bowl the ball and hope the pins scatter. And this goes on pretty much forever. The other bowling simulations that I have played at least tried to include a sort of story or even different lanes that are just a true work of art, but this is just the same thing over and over.
Overall, the gameplay is very poor, and if I were you, I would probably just stick to my other bowling games, if you have any others that is. While the gameplay does at least showcase a game that is not afraid of being direct and to the point, you do wish deep inside that the creators of this game, Point Of View, Inc and Crave Entertainment, would at least try to incorporate something unique and endearing, rather than just an overpriced, run-of-the-mill game.
Replay Value: 3/10 - Replay value? In this game?
I'll keep this part short and simple. There is barely any replay value in this game, unless you feel like going through another career full of drudgery & disappointment. Other than that, I suppose you could get a number of players over for a game or two, but really, there is nothing else at all to say. This is just one dull, dull game...
Overall: 5/10 - I think I was just robbed...
Well, like I said before, this game is nothing special, and the A$50 price tag that it carried when I purchased it some time ago feels like a constant kick in the guts with the rear end of a bus. The gameplay is repetitive, the graphics are alright, but shallow at the same time, the music and sound is in no way memorable or special, and the overall experience was just unbelievably boring. I think I'll just stick to my other bowling games and only play this when I just want to get it over with. When that day comes, it shall be placed on the shelf, never to see the inside of a PS2 again.
With that statement, that concludes my review. I hope you enjoyed reading it, and hopefully I'll come back again in due time. Till then, see ya all later!
Reviewer's Score: 5/10 | Originally Posted: 09/22/09
Game Release: Brunswick Pro Bowling (AU, 09/27/07)
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