GameOver Game Reviews

Game & Publisher Links LS 99 (c) Access Software
Overall Rating 82%
Date Published , , at (Pacific)


Divider Left By: Lil-Grrr Divider Right

Ever since Links 386 came out, golf games on the PC have never been the same. At that time, the clean graphics and the realistic gameplay won out many golf fans on the PC. After numerous sequels, it seems that Links LS is still on top of the pack. This year, however, golf fans have been treated by some of the best golf games, most noticeably EA Sports' offering of Tiger Woods 99 and the arcadish Peter Jacobsen's Golden Tee Golf. Not to be outdone, Links LS 99, featuring Arnold Palmer, was released. So how does it stack up?

The graphics in Links LS are almost photographic quality. It has unlimited resolution, 1600x1200 and upwards if you have the video RAM, and 16.7 million colors. There are also 8, plus Arnold Palmer, golfer animations. Not opting for the 3D accelerator support, Links LS does away with those ugly pixelated trees and objects found in other games. It also does not need an extremely fast computer to run. The different seasons in the courses are faithfully rendered. The fall season in the Latrobe Country Club contains one of the best set of sceneries I've ever seen in a golf game. What's missing though is the animation that made Tiger Woods exceptionally good in terms of graphics. What's better is really up to one's liking and choice. I'd rather have the TV-style presentation Tiger Woods 99 gave as opposed to the photographic slides separated by rendering time Links LS has. In my opinion, it really takes away from the graphics to wait for those renderings to finish. Compared to Links LS 98, it is also not much of an improvement at all. Actually, I canít see any noticeable, or any for that matter, improvement in the graphics. So the overall product, graphic wise, is merely average.

Maybe Iíve been spoiled by EA Sportsí presentation in Tiger Woods 99, but Links LS 99 has barely any sound. There are the usual sounds in the background: birds chippering, wind blowing, and people chattering. The other sounds in the game are the club hitting the ball and the extremely scarce commentary on the game itself. Since golf is a thinking sport, sound isnít really an essential part of the game.

Offering so-so graphics and unfavorable sound, what does Links LS have to offer? Well, the extremely realistic gameplay and shots are back. Access Software also claims that the shots from the sand and the tall grass are more realistic. To add to that, you have 5 courses to play on: St. Andrews, Latrobe Country Club (Summer), Latrobe Country Club (Fall), Bay Hill and Entrada at Snow Canyon. These courses, as you can see from the screenshots, are faithfully rendered to represent their real counterparts. You can even get lost and find a house right in front of you. If 5 courses aren't enough, (the more the better, right?), you can import courses from Links 386 (SVGA ones) to play here.

Another thing added is the Power Shot. It is similar to the analog swing found in many other golf games. Unlike the shot setup in the other golf games though, the Power Shot is designed to you move your mouse side to side, rather than forward. Moving your mouse side to side takes away from that realistic feeling, since in real life, you would swing your club forward and towards the ball. I really tried to get used to this shot setup, but after a few hours of frustration (mainly due to the lack of power even with mouse sensitivity adjusted to the maximum and the difficulty to aim correctly), I just went back to the 2-click swing. It really pales in comparison to the analog shots found in Peter Jacobsenís Golden Tee Golf and Tiger Woods 99. Other than that, the 3-click swing and the 2-click swing is just like in Links LS 98. There is also only the simulation mode. In Tiger Woods, you can choose to play a simulation or an arcade game (which include the infamous Tiger Shot). Access does offer an arcadish golf game due this year though, Links LS Extreme. The most noticeable addition found in Links LS 99 is probably the MOP game designer. With this feature, you are able to design what kind of game you want to play. This makes for unlimited replay value. There is also a large set of rules you can play under (the Links LS "certified" rules).

If the joy of playing against the computer wears off, there is support for TCP/IP over the internet, modem, LAN, and even MPlayer. Whatís lacking, however, is a network dedicated to multiplayer. Peter Jacobsenís Golden Tee Golf offers Golden Tee Net, which allows you to find many people trying to setup multiplayer golf games. Tiger Woods 99 also offers a similar feature, with a greater population of people playing than Golden Tee Net.

All in all, Links LS 99 is definitely not a bad golf simulation. It is definitely not the worst golf game out there, but in my opinion, the Links LS series have been bested by the competition.

Graphics: 15 / 20
Sound: 8 / 15
Gameplay: 23 / 30
Fun Factor: 15 / 20
Multiplayer Play: 3 / 5
Overall Impression: 7 / 10


Rating
71%
 
  

  
Divider Left By: Hades Divider Right

Golf, a very boring sport if played in real life. Links 99, a great game for a boring sport. Some of you will say that golf is not boring. I grew up in a household where golf was very popular, but I never seemed to catch on. Sure, I played a game here and there but never anything serious. I was always playing my computer games. Then I found a jewel of a game known as Links 386 Pro. I about died. The game had mind-numbing graphics and they displayed faster than light on my 386. I was impressed and I was hooked. I quickly got all the courses for the game and played round after round after round of this enthralling, visually appealing game. I even liked the little squeaky bird sounds. Ever since then I have been hooked on the Links series. I have played them all and hope to play the rest of them. When Links LS came out, I was astounded to find even better graphics, better sounds, and better animations. I didn't think this game could get better. Every year the game never ceases to amaze me. I find myself playing the game hours on end, just wanting to get one less stroke for the course, trying for that eagle instead of the birdie on Hole 7. Enter Links LS 99, the newest game to enter the virtual golf world. This game excels in every aspect of a PC sports game.

Graphics:

Well the graphics have definitely improved since I played Links 386, obviously. However they are still not exactly what I would call snap shots of a golf course. Again I am no golf buff but I have been on my fair share of courses. Including one of the courses included with this game. The crowd in the background and on the sides looks somewhat pixelated, and sometimes you can literally be standing right on top of them. However nothing can prepare you for playing this game in 1280x1024 in 16.7 million colors. If you want to see good graphics, then this is your game. Close objects aside, everything from the grass to the clouds and even the backdrop looks exceptional. It makes me wonder if they actually took pictures of the courses then real-time sized them. Not only are the graphics truly exceptional, but they load with incredible speed. I thought the original loaded fast on my old 386. LS 99 loads in a blink of an eye. By the way, it makes for a helluva lot faster golf game. The different animations spice up the game a little. It would be very dull if all you had was a guy swinging a piece of metal. Well you have that plus more. Your player actually reacts to what has happened. Miss a six-inch putt and the player will shake his head in his hands.

Sound:

You don't play a golf game and expect to have digitized music and off the wall special effects. The sound is nothing compared to the breathing of Quake or the music of Forsaken. It's simply the background sounds of Nature. Pull out your mom's waterfall and rainforest tapes because that's what you'll be hearing while playing this game. You have your basic golf sounds, the ball going into the cup, the hum of the club cutting through the air, the thwacking sound of the ball meeting your club. The ball, however, makes a weird sound when hitting a tree. In my real life golf experience, I never have heard a tree sound like that when it got hit. (Believe me I am an expert on tree hitting, damn that slice.) There is a fair amount of commentary, but again it's golf. It's not a sport where you need an announcer like for a NASCAR race. Golf is a quiet game, I am glad they kept that feel in LS 99.

Gameplay:

Even my father can play this game, and all he can do is double click and move the mouse around very sporadically. I played a round with him and after a few holes you get the hang of the swinging icon. Simply press and hold the mouse button, let go at the top of your stroke and click again at the bottom. Too far and you'll slice or too soon and you'll hook. Not to mention you can give the ball a power shot. This is my personal favorite. When hitting the ball you can actually overswing; with the gain in power you lose control. But who needs control when you're just going for distance? It's quite fun to play this sort of game with your friend. During the first few times you play you will definitely need to use those mulligans. After all, that's how you get to be good at this game. Keep swinging until you fingers hurt. The game is all about timing and watching the green. You can adjust variables like green speed and wind, but unless you're a true golfer you may want to leave these settings alone. The slope of the green is indicated by a grid that comes up each time you are putting. You can easily see where the green slopes and bends as the grid is a good enough indicator to get the best putt possible.

Fun Factor:

Definitely polar. Either you like it or you don't. If golf games are for you then this will be the best and most enjoyable experience of PC golf you can get. I found myself getting out of my chair and screaming when I hit the cup on the side and see my ball ricochet off into the fringe. If you have never played PC golf this may be fun for you as well. It has a small learning curve, however it is quick to overcome.

Multiplayer:

A multiplayer game if I ever saw one. Not only can you play over your local network and over the Internet, there a dozens (30 or so) different types of games. Most people know of the simple stroke game, well there is also skins, and many other different versions, with sub-versions. This game never ends when it comes to multiplayer.

Overall Impression:

Get this game. Two big thumbs up. If golf is for you this is a must for your gaming library. Even if you're not a computer sports fan, pick this up, you may be willing to ditch your real-time strategy game in favor of a simpler and quieter game. A game where pounding people into the ground (NFL Blitz) or shooting people with a BFG (Doom) is nowhere to be found. This game truly touches every aspect of a golf experience. Even if you're like me and cannot play a round of golf without throwing your clubs in the water, pick this up, you may surprise yourself.

Graphics: 19/20
Sound: 12/15
Gameplay: 29/30
Fun Factor: 18/20
Multiplayer: 5/5
Overall Impression: 10/10


Rating
93%
 
  

  
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