Golf Special

a game by Accolade
Platform: PC
Editor Rating: 6/10, based on 1 review
User Rating: 7.3/10 - 3 votes
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Overview

Jack Nicklaus 5

 Out on the links with the Bear himself! Accolade has done an excellent job of taking one of the best golf sims in '97 and and making it better for '98. Complete with 10 courses and the all-important course designer, as well as new control features like the Mouse Meter!

Links LS '98

Play golf with Arnold Palmer or buy the add-on and play Davis Love III. Access improves the top selling golf sim by making it a Windows 95 native application, adding reflecting water, and including an overall speed improvement. It comes with four courses and is compatable with most of the Links championship courses from the past.

PGA Tour Pro '97

 If it's in the game, it's in the game! A major improvement over the cartoonish '96 version. It comes with the Pebble Beach course, Bay Hill and the TPC at Scottsdale. Very user-friendly and the fastest of the five games reviewed.

British Open Golf

 Graphically very nice with such features as crowds and a legitimate British Open feel, and also features great commentary by Jim McKay. Only two courses (although classic courses just the same), St. Andrews and Royal Troon. Also a very clever idea of a caddy that is actually useful.

SimGolf:

 It has a course designer and nice swing choices. 

Gameplay

Jack Nicklaus 5

 This game is greatly improved over last year's model, which was the Cadillac of golf sims. Everything from the graphics to the swing meter have been updated and it is very user friendly. The minute you load game, you are greeted with the song "Green Onions" and a video history of the Bear himself. From there you are taken to a menu where you can choose between 5 different golfers and choose your clubs. You have 10 courses to choose from, all designed by the Bear, and if that isn't enough, you can go to Accolade's web site and download over 120 other courses! So you have chosen your course; now you must decide between a 2-click, 3-click or mouse-meter golf swing. The other two have been around for a while, so I will focus on the mouse meter. Here, you must use your mouse in a side-to-side motion to swing the club at the ball. This took a lot of practice, as the manual was rather vague on the issue. Once I got the hang of it, though, I decided to use it almost exclusively. You can take practice swings to get the feel of the club (just like the real game of golf), then hold the left mouse button as you draw back and release it on the ball and Boom! Right in the rough! 
 You have the choice of playing as a scratch, handicap or pro player. You can vary the weather and course conditions. You can try the $1,000,000 skins challenge, practice, Bingo-Bango-Bongo, Best score, and a few others ... plus you can hear (the only drawback) annoying commentary by Gary McCord. There are also lifelike 3D golfers that are artificially intelligent enough to try and beat you everytime. And of course you can play online at NetAccolade! 

Links LS 98

 Links faced a major task in updating (not upgrading) Links LS. It was the best-selling golf sim of 1997, and that's with a few flaws. So when they announced a 1998 version was coming out, everyone who bought the '97 version got excited. Access rewarded us with reflecting water and made the interface a Windows 95 native. They also made it faster (redraws were at least twice as fast), and tweaked the already picture-perfect graphics. 

 Gameplay is very simple, using the 3-click method. You have the choice of playing as, with, or against the the legendary Arnold Palmer (although it would have been nice to have the younger version), or buy the add-on and play against Davis Love III. You can play offline or in online tourneys, matches, singles, or skins. You have 6 different golfers to choose from, including women golfers. 

 Actual gameplay is identical to '97. You pick a course and game and off you go! The courses included are Latrobe, Kapula Bay, Village, and Plantation courses, all of which are great. Plus, if you have the time, the game comes with virtual tours of the clubhouses and Arnie's office and workshop. The tours are incredible, done in Tex Murphy-style 3D movement controls.

PGA Tour Pro

 Like _Jack 5_, EA Sports greatly improved last year's model. Last year's effort was cartoonish at best, but this year ... from the start of the main menu you get the feel (or at least the sounds) of a real golf course. You can hear people chattering, tees flying, etc. From the main menu you are just a click away from playing golf against Pros like Mark O'Meara, Chip Beck, Brad Faxon, Davis Love, and Jeff Sluman. The game itself hasn't changed from last year except for the graphics (which we will get into later) and how fast and friendly this game is. Last year wasn't too incredibly hard, but it was sometimes a struggle to stay out of the brush.

 You can play against the computer, head to head, point-to-point modem, on the Internet, or by LAN. Let me tell you, everything is fast! Netplay? Whatever ... click and boom is what I call it. Plus EA has come out with an expansion pack for around $20 that has four more courses for your gaming pleasure.

British Open Golf

 The only thing that kept this game from getting higher marks was the fact that you only get two courses, and the courses you do get are not up to par. Right off the bat, however, you are reminded why the British Open is a world-class event. Choosing a golfer is easy, although the players vary from Alex Trebek look-alikes to old guys. If you want you can choose from some of the world's top golfers such as Chip Beck, Sandy Lyle, Jesper Parnevick, Vijay Singh and Ian Baker Finch.

 Choosing a course takes two seconds (limited choices). Once you are on the course, that is when the fun or terror begins. European courses in the links style are very different from American courses. Whereas on American courses you are greeted with sculpted courses, trees and water, on St. Andrews and Royal Troon you are greeted with 6-foot deep bunkers, rough that could use some weed whacking, and hardly any trees ... not to mention the wind. My first tee shot went sailing into the stands on hole number one. Did I say stands? Yep. Luckily I was in practice mode and there were only a few people around. British Open Golf has given some golf sim fans what they have been dreaming of for a while—spectators. They have also given us a caddy that doesn't make smart-alec remarks. Instead, your caddie is animated and totally interactive. Want to know how to play the approach? Ask him. 9 times out of 10 he is right. 

SimGolf

 Realizing that this was their very first effort, I will try to be as kind as I can. Seeing the popular demand for more golf sims, the king of the sims decided to take a crack at its own version. Well, for a first effort it was nice. It has a great course designer (not as good as Jack 5), but after that it goes downhill. Their version of the mouse swing is nice, but I found that I ran out of mouse pad space too many times. Various play modes as mentioned with other games, but just not as well done.

Graphics

PGA Tour Pro

 EA Sports has gone into the realm of 3D-rendered people, whereas _LinksLS_ is photo-realistic. I still haven't decided which I like better. Game physics now allow for uneven and hillside lies that are almost true to life. In most sims, no matter where you land you can get a good shot off, but this game makes you think ahead. It was designed for MMX and it shows. Graphically it is in second place, but by next year it could be number one. Golfers look very well done, it just takes some getting used to.

Links LS 98

 This is the feature that made this game the number one seller last year, and a front-runner this year. The photo-realistic courses are just too beautiful to believe. The thing that bothers me about the update is the reflecting water. If you look at the water you get reflections from trees and objects that are too far away to be casting reflections! Also, Access decided it would be nice to add waving flags, blimps and planes. All of these are nice, but ... The virtual tours are very well done graphically and add a nice element to the mix. Golfers can be choppy if you have a slow system.

PGA Tour Pro 97

 As I said earlier, it is eye candy! This title is the biggest improvement overall among the upgrades. The Pebble Beach course that was made for '97 is graphically the best course I have ever seen. It even looks better than Links' version. The other courses are good but not great. I spent the extra $20 to get 4 more courses, and they looked good, but didn't have the crispness of Pebble Beach. The golfers are seamless and blend in well with the courses.

British Open Golf

 What can I say? Another graphically good game. No flickers, instant redraws, and grass that looks more like a ping-pong table, but that's okay. The golfers are pretty smooth with almost seamless movements. 

Audio

Jack Nicklaus 5

 Hearing is almost as good as seeing in the world of golf. It is nice to hear sounds floating around your head as you stare mesmerized at the screen. The sounds in Jack 5 include the Green Onion song and a really annoying commentator, Gary McCord. I am sure he is a nice guy, but the jokes get stale after ten minutes. Unlike previous games, the soundtrack is not very easily edited. It is recorded, however, in full stereo.

Links LS 98

 I have always liked the fact that if you don't like the sound track that comes with _Links LS_, you can change it. Using almost any .wav file, you can incorporate sounds into the mix that you would like to hear. I downloaded a Caddyshack sound script and although it gets annoying, it is a nice change of pace compared to that monotone guy who talks when you hit a tree or something.

PGA Tour Pro 97

 I don't know who the commentator in the booth is, but he is very annoying. Luckily he can be turned off. Otherwise, the atmospheric sounds are some of the best offered. They are all recorded in Dolby Surround sound! 

British Open Golf

 I have always liked Jim McKay and found the soundtrack on this game to be very informative and entertaining. I don't know who the other commentator is, but he gets very aggravated if you run to make a pit stop or something. The crowd noises are very good also.

SimGolf:

 First try; better luck next time. 

Documentation:

 All the games came with ample documentation that was very useful and in some cases (SimGolf) sorely needed. 

System Requirements

 I ran these games on two different computers. One was a Dell 133, 32 MB ram, Matrox video card, 8X CD-ROM drive, and the other a 266 Pentium II, 128 MB RAM, Viper 330, 24X CD-ROM drive. With the exception of _Links LS_, they all ran well. _Links_ was pretty much designed for higher-end systems. With _Jack 5_, it is better to have a lot of room to grow—both in RAM and hard drive space—if you plan on taking advantage of the course designer and/or downloads. 

Bottom Line

 If you like to play golf in the spring and summer and you are looking for a diversion for the winter, you can't go wrong with any of these games. Another game to consider is MS Golf 3.0; although it is not as good, it is pretty easy to use. For best value (graphics, extras, usability), my winner is _Jack Nicklaus 5_. For best eye candy, _Links LS_ takes the cake. For best newcomer: British Open Golf.  If I were a developer, I would take something out of each one of these games and make a super golf sim. My biggest stink with _Links_ is that they make you wait months for new courses, and their latest output was really just rehashed versions of games already available (3 currently available in stores, 2 we have been waiting for), mixed with old courses not available elsewhere. When you make a purchase, think about all the features the game has and whether it is expandable (if that is important to you). I wanted to write this review because I had to buy all of them to find the right one for me. Hopefully you can learn from me, and I hope this has helped you in your ultimate golf quest. FORE!

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PC Download

System requirements:

  • PC compatible
  • Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP
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