In this title, international golf star Ernie Els guides the player through various competitions, offering bits of advice to help shape the player's game along the way.
The standout feature of the game is its swing control system, which is the most interactive of any iPhone golf title currently avaialble. As can be seen in the accompanying screenshot, the player is presented with an onscreen swing box that challenges the user to accurately connect with the ball by way of a fairly complex swing sequence. It works as follows: the player takes control of the club head with a touch, dragging downward to perform the backswing--but don't drag too far or accuracy will suffer. Once a sufficient backswing is reached, the player must slide a the finger upwards in as straight a line as possible in order to contact the ball. Veering left or right will draw or fade the swing. It takes some skill to get right, which is really more than can be said about the other golf games in the App Store.
The courses are rendered in 3D with 2D distant backdrops and obstacles (trees, bushes, etc). At first this raised a flag--not being a "full 3D game"--but after playing for a while, one realizes that there's no real need for 3D trees and 3D mountains on the horizon. The 2D graphical components are well drawn and don't detract from the gaming experience in the least. Overall it's an attractive game that feels more complete than some of the other golf titles in the App Store.
For every shot, a club suggestion is offered, but the player can choose to any club in his bag. What's more, the type of swing can be selected by a button in the middle of the angle / club selection rose. Most computer golf games don't offer this level of control and, at first glance, it may seem daunting to those not versed on real-world golf. But after a quick explanation in the game's tutorial section, I found myself utilizing the swing-type selection often and to advantageous effect. It's a nice feature.
Another aspect of Ernie Els that adds a degree of player immersion is the weather system. There's rain--visible raindrops. Also wind that can be felt by way of audio feedback and the billowing of an onscreen flag. I've not seen a golf title that so boldly embraced inclement weather. What can I say, it's fun to golf in the rain (...on the iPhone).
Ernie Els Golf 2008 is the most enjoyable golf title currently available in the iTunes App Store. The $6.99 download [App Store] is sure to be enjoyed by anyone who craves a little pick-up green time while on the go. Though, if your wallet just has room for one iPhone golf game, be aware that EA's lavish Tiger Woods '09 [console video] will arrive in the App Store soon.