Golf simulations seem to come and go, but Microsoft has been in the field -- or rather, on the green -- for some time and can always be counted on for an innovation or two. The original Microsoft Golf, which came pre-packaged with countless PCs over the past few years, has gone through several reincarnations and has now evolved into Microsoft Golf 1998 Edition.
The graphics in this game are of a high-quality photo-realism similar to that of found in the Microsoft Flight Simulator. Four beautifully displayed courses give the player a feeling of being right there on the links. Although there is no grass or tree movement within the game, these landscapes are presented realistically enough to inspire the feeling of watching a televised tournament.
The background sounds are very realistic and do not get in the way of the gameplay as they sometimes do in other golf games. The commentary is enjoyable too, relevant and even sympathetic at times (especially to some of us poorer players!).
Not surprisingly, gameplay is best on a computer with a faster processor. A Pentium 90Mhz is the specified minimum, but 133Mhz seems to be the required speed to get everything out of the game that it has to offer. On such a machine, the player takes the stroke as soon as the command is given, rather than having to wait a few moments. The smooth actions and a synchronized soundtrack make the game delicious to watch and play.
Each hole opens with a flyby, just as in the TV coverage of the Masters and other open tournaments. Hints and tips are available and the choice of club can be automatic, if so desired. In fact, the whole game is easily customizable, as weather conditions and wind can be specified and individual holes can be made easier or more difficult.
The types of swings used in the game are controlled by mouse or keyboard. There are four different types, including multiple click strokes for special shots. In addition to a conventional two-click stroke, the player can choose a 'Sim Swing,' in which the player aims for the target and the game takes the shot for you. More experienced players may prefer the 'natural' swing, in which the mouse is pushed forward to indicate power and direction.
Up to three other players can join in a game online. Whether played with friends or alone, the tournament has an excellent feeling of realism. Best of all, perhaps, you can play and enjoy this game over and over again, without the need to wear garish pants or a funny hat while doing so.
Graphics: Photo-realism used throughout
Sound: Excellent range of customisable sound schemes and voices
Enjoyment: Suitable for all golf players
Replay Value: Multiple options, including network gameplay, make this a game to dip into over and over again.
People who downloaded Microsoft Golf 1998 Edition have also downloaded:
Microsoft Golf 3.0, Links 2003, Greg Norman Ultimate Challenge Golf, British Open Championship Golf, Microsoft Golf 2.0, Links 2001, Jack Nicklaus 5, Microsoft Golf
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