Unseating EA's excellent Tiger Woods is nearly impossible, but Links hedges its bets by offering something that no other Xbox golf sim does--online play. Xbox Live makes teeing off against other Net players a breeze, and logging on to the XSN Sports website to check out stats or join user-created tournaments really adds to the fun. This game also keeps you happily busy offline; the Career mode includes multiple tours of varying difficulty, and you can perfect your skills with a bevy of addictive minigame-esque challenges. Although Links has been a PC legend for a few decades, this Xbox debut suffers from a few too many bogeys. It's almost laughable that the game's character customization involves merely changing the wardrobe of existing players. Furthermore, the short supply of courses and golf pros definitely disappoints, and putting shouldn't be this easy. Even with these mishaps, Links 2004 is a passable effort. But if headin' online isn't in the cards, you're better off checkin' out Tiger's country club.
It's a good thing you can take Links online. Otherwise, there'd be no reason to choose this over EA's Tiger Woods. That's not to say Microsoft's classic golf series sucks. Just that it's a close second to Tiger in just about every way. That said, I dig the swing meter, wonderfully realistic visuals, and course selection. Plus, it's fun to hear Bryan's excuses when you kick his ass online. But what's with the emaciated players and ridiculously over-the-top Matrix-style replays?
Links' cover athlete Sergio Garcia is competent with his clubs, but he just doesn't have Tiger Woods' appeal. Same story with his game--precise analog swinging nicely apes Woods' innovative method, and adjustable spin options let even casual par-three players draw and fade shots like pros. But aside from its ample online offerings, Links' competitiveness ends there. Create-a-Golfer is utterly underwhelming, and contrary to what Bryan says, simple shot challenges don't amount to exciting minigames.
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As one of the older franchises around, Links 2004 offers a complete makeover from graphics down to putting. Although lacking the attention to detail that creates a realistic golf simulation, Links 2004 puts together a golf experience easy to pick up but short on substance.has been given new life in Microsoft's XSN series. Much improved from past releases,
Links 2004 offers the standard gameplay options but most of the single player features are focused around the career mode. As with most sports games you'll start at the rookie level and work your way up. There are challenges such as chipping within a certain distance from the pin and regular tournaments where the winnings can be used to increase certain aspects of your golf game or unlock equipment that will improve your performance.
The gameplay is where most will either love or hate it however as striking the ball can be done with quite a bit of consistency. It's rare to miss a fairway for instance and even though the left analog stick is used to initiate a club swing, the system is forgiving as the stick is pulled down until a power level is reached and then released. This same concept is used for chipping and putting which will probably not be enough challenge for those used to playing. Links 2004 does offer an online option using Live! that helps to overcome the simplistic nature of the game. It functions as expected and may be a reason to purchase it as Tiger Woods PGA 2004 doesn't have online options for the Xbox.
The graphics aren't cutting edge but don't distract from the game with well designed character models and environments. The commentary on the other hand was almost unbearable. Besides stating the obvious using the same phrases over and over, their sentences sound almost robotic and lacked any fluid flow.
Links 2004 offers an experience that will entertain those looking for an easy to pick up golf game but lacks the depth Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2004 offers. As long as the commentary doesn't get under your skin, Links 2004 offers a decent option for those not interested in a detailed golf simulation.