Jack Nicklaus 4

a game by Cinematronics
Platform: PC
Editor Rating: 6/10, based on 1 review
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Overview

Jack Nicklaus has retooled his game to reclaim the title as the best in golf. Like the legendary Golden Bear's swing in the '60s, this game is the most consistent well-rounded golf sim available today. If you are tired of the Microsoft/Links golf games which have remained basically unchanged for the past five years, here is an excellent alternative.

Gameplay

The game is very similar to -- but much improved from -- past versions of Nicklaus golf. In fact, if you are only familiar with Microsoft/Links Golf, the transition should be an easy one. The swing control appears on the screen where the actual golfer's swing plane will be. When the meter is going up you control the distance of the shot on the downward return you control the draw or the fade of the ball in flight.

The actual game starts with an optional audio/video preview of the hole. This is a feature you will probably only use the first few times you play the different courses, but it is done very nicely. The announcer's voice sounds professional, like the ones you hear on Sundays: smooth enough to listen to even after Friday and Saturday night overindulgences. He clearly lays out the hole and gives you good advice on how to play it.

Jack Nicklaus lets you choose from five of his favorite courses. You can test your skills south of the border on a very open links type course such as Cabo del Sol or fight off mosquitoes on the heavily-wooded Country Club of the South. The other courses included are Colleton River Plantation, Muirfeld Village and Winding Springs. Each course offers classic risk/reward situations throughout, and different degrees of difficulty.

The game also allows you to play several competitive golf formats, including Stroke play, Match play, Best score (Handicap or Straight), Skins, Sudden Death, Bingo-Bango-Bongo, or a Certified game that counts toward your handicap. The statistics kept on your certified rounds, while being too numerous to list, are extremely detailed. Statistics on greens alone include number hit in regulation, average putts per round, average putts per hole, average number of one puts and average number of up & downs.

The game includes a Golf Course Designer program, an outstanding module that allows you to dream up your own courses or recreate the course down the street. The results are incredible. Your personal time constraints will be the only thing limiting what you can do with this program.

The actual gameplay of Jack Nicklaus 4 leaves room for improvement. There is a problem getting out of some hazards. When your ball is positioned directly behind a rock, or in the deep rough at the bottom of a hill, it can sometimes take 3 or 4 shots to get back on track. This can really screw up your handicap, although it does provide incentive to stay in the Fairways.

Graphics

The graphics on the courses are outstanding, surpassing that of any other golf game I have played. The golfer's image is very good, although it could blend in with its surroundings better. One drawback I did find while playing the game on my computer is the few seconds of wait time between shots. I have a 166Mhz (no MMX); 32 MB RAM; 4 MB SGRAM ATI 3D Pro with 12X CD-ROM drive. It was only one to three seconds, and the game is worth the wait, but the lag was noticeable and frustrating those times when I wanted to speed through the course. I should have that option, right?

Audio

The audio on the hole preview is superior. The course's bird and frog background vocals are solid. The caddies, as in every other golf game, are annoying. Their vocabulary and phrases are very limited, and the repetition and timing of the comments makes me consider alternative uses for the blunt end of my putter.

Documentation

The software manual is adequate and fairly easy to understand in regards to playing the game. A separate, more in-depth Course Designer manual would be appropriate.

System Requirements

Required: IBM PC/Compatible with Pentium 90 processor; 16 MB RAM; 2X CD-ROM drive; Windows 95 compatible sound card
Recommended: Pentium 100 processor and 24 MB RAM

Bottom Line

Nicklaus 4 is golden. In my opinion it is the best golf game on the market. The other premier golf games, Links and Microsoft, are equal in quality and enjoyment in actual course play, but Nicklaus 4 sets a new benchmark with its outstanding extras. The details, fantastic graphics, multiple courses, and course designer elevate it to the top. If you have always wanted to design a course of your own, this game is a must. If you have enjoyed previous versions of Nicklaus or any other golf games on the market, spend the $45. For the price of one round of real golf, you can own the best in computer golf.

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