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Review: LinksLS 2000

Reviewed By: Kirk Hiner

Review Date: January 11, 2001


Genre: Sports
Format: 3 CDs
Developer: Microsoft and Access Software
Mac Port: Green Dragon
Publisher: MacSoft
Minimum Requirements: Mac OS 8.5, 120 MHz PowerPC 604, 128MB RAM (or 64MB RAM with virtual memory), CD ROM, network connection for online play
Network Feature: LAN (AppleTalk or TCP/IP) and Internet (GameRanger via TCP/IP)
3D Support: No
Retail Price: $49.99
ESRB Rating: E for Everyone
Availability: Now


The other day I received this thing in the mail from my niece. At least I think it was from my niece. Her name was on it, but the return address was The Girl Scouts of America. Ends up they're having one of those magazine sales. My first thought was that the Girl Scouts must be getting lazy if they can't even go door to door to sell magazines anymore. My second thought was, "Good gravy, there sure are a lot of golfing magazines."

I'll admit that I don't get golf. I mean, I understand the game, I just don't understand its appeal. Judging from its popularity and creepy, fanatical following, I'll concede that I'm the odd one out. I accept that, but I still must ask why more than one golfing magazine? Is there really so much golf strategy and commentary that we need competing publications to tell us about it? Heck, I don't even see how one magazine can fill a year's worth of paper with useful information. Multiple golf magazines, and still no Sword Fighting Skeleton Movie Weekly. Where's the justice, my friends?

And now we're going to have multiple golf games on the Macintosh. Sure, there are already quite a few, but Aspyr's got some new Tiger Woods thing coming around the dogleg, and MacSoft has just given us LinksLS 2000.

I would like to compare LinksLS 2000 to some of the other golf games out there, but, despite the fact that I enjoy computer golf, I haven't played any since Accolade's Jack Nicklaus' Greatest 18 Holes of Major Championship Golf for the Apple IIGS. That game came on two 512K disks back when Greg Norman's goofy hats were all the rage. LinksLS 2000 comes on 3 CDs, but the clothing is still goofy and the golfers have just gotten older.

You can control some real-life old men and women if you like, or you can create your own golfer. The customization pretty much ends at shirt color, which makes LinksLS 2000 a biting commentary on real life, if you ask me. I think the point of including real golfers is so you can take on Arnold Palmer or Fuzzy Lumpkins and brag it about it at the office on Monday. It'd be better if there was a celebrity golf tournament option where you could take on the likes of Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sammy Hagar and O.J. Simpson.

What LinksLS 2000 lacks in personnel, it makes up for in gameplay. Did you know there are apparently 35 different ways golf can be played? If there are this many variations in the computer version, I can just imagine how many there are in real life. The variety is determined pretty much by how the game is scored; sadly there are no power-ups or missions to accomplish. The best thing about most of these variations is that running through them is good practice for tournament mode. I was first bothered by the lack of a driving range and putting green, but then I realized the only reason those exist in real life is so golfers don't have to pay greens fees to get some practice in. How many of you real golfers can say you go to Hapuna or St. Andrews for practice?

You're also not alone when you practice. Professional tips are offered on each hole, and golfers are allowed to take unlimited mulligans until they're happy with their shot. Again, this reflects real life.

To appeal even more to novice golfers, LinksLS 2000 offers four different swing methods; the new one-click and the familiar two-click, three-click and power stroke methods. The one-, two- and three-click methods are variations on a theme; it's just a matter of whatever feels the most comfortable and how intricate you want to be. The power stroke method, on the other hand, feels completely different but offers more power at the sacrifice of control.

To choose direction, you simply click a marker where you want the ball to go. Many factors then determine if the ball actually gets there. You can spin your golfer around and even change his stance if you so desire. Serious golfers are sure to be impressed with the amount of tweaking their afforded. Luckily for the rest of us, LinksLS 2000 also offers numerous multi-media components to make it interesting. For instance, play-by-play analysis is available courtesy of David Feherty and Craig Bolerjack (the box says they're golf guys from CBS, and I'm inclined to believe it). One of them, I'm not sure which, spends most of his time insulting your shots. I thought this was a nice touch, but his comments get very repetitive very quickly. He's like the schoolyard bully who only knows three insults but still uses them on everyone at the tetherball pole.

Also available are a bunch of video presentations on the history of the courses, the game and such. There are interviews with Arnold Palmer as well. Again, whereas most of us probably won't bother with these, golf enthusiasts are sure to enjoy these bonuses. I can say for certain that some of my former bosses would've never gotten any work done had this game been installed on their computers.

Those with LinksLS 1999 for the Mac will be pleased to note their courses are compatible with the 2000 edition. Sadly, Microsoft's expansion course sets are not, including their Links Extreme product that adds zombies and exploding golf balls to the game. Now I'd subscribe to a magazine with that in it.

And finally, online multiplay is supported through Scott Kevill's GameRanger service. Just think...set that up with a QuickCam and now business execs won't even have to actually go outside to make all their big deals. Mr. Foley at A.T. and Love in Toronto can "get some in" with Mr. Page of Versalife in Hong Kong and still get home in time for supper. He won't even miss the great outdoors, because the landscape graphics in LinksLS 2000 are excellent. The course builders and graphics specialists must be the types who buy inspirational golf posters and calendars; every hole is a joy to look at. The onlookers, on the other hand...well, at first I thought they looked terrible, stacked along the fairway like immobile lawn gnomes. But they I saw a bit of an actual tournament on TV, and the real life onlookers also looked like lawn gnomes. Perhaps Microsoft used Sims objects to reproduced them.

The back of the jewel case claims that LinksLS 2000 is "the golf game for golfers." This is true; people who know what they're doing will have a grand old time running this game through its hundreds of options and playing its beautiful courses. For everyone else, however, it's...well, it's golf. If you don't subscribe to a golf magazine, you probably don't need this game.

Of course, if you would like to subscribe, I can put you in touch with my niece.


Applelinks Rating