A quick note about stability: While playing in OS X, I only experienced one crash of the game in more than a few hours of playing time. I restarted the game after a break and it saved my last game allowing me to replay that last shot. Even in beta form, Links is a very stable program. The retail version should prove even better. Perhaps the endless delay for the product will be well worth it in this respect alone.
The VenueAnyone who watches golf knows the names of famous courses such as Oakmont, Augusta and Pebble Beach. Well, Links contains thirteen famous and gorgeous golf courses for the player. Some of the courses included in the game are Banff Springs, Chateau Whistler, Mesa Roja, Oakmont country club and The Royal Melbourne Golf Club.
Links also contains a course editor giving players the option to create their own golf course. This is done using the Arnold Palmer Course Designer (APCD). The APCD gives you the ability to manage the minutiae involved in creating a golf course. If narrow fairways are the bane of your existence, create an entire course of them and then proudly proclaim to your buddies that you are taking lessons all those Saturdays that you shirk your responsibility to your group on the real thing. The course designer contains over 1700 objects to fill your custom golf course. It is a real-time 3D editor designed to allow the player to create their own fun house of horrors for golfers.
Also, the game contains the images and voices of several of golf’s top performers including Arnold Palmer, Annika Sorenstam, and Sergio Garcia. Of course, each player can import their own image to create their own player. Each can be customized to play at a Pro, Champ or amateur level. Each can be customized to be right or left-handed. The swing can be customized for each player. In fact, the level of customization can extend down to each stroke by adjusting the stance, how the club head will strike the ball, and a host of other modifications are within the player’s control. Each pro-player avatar also has pre-recorded voice cues. Of course they are not all perfect. I played one round as Annika Sorenstam. One particularly bad shot was out of play, but because it left the pin high, the voice cue declared it a good shot. There are also the apropos cues for bad shots. Even the animations are right on. For a bad putt, Arnie will drop his putter in frustration. Annika will kick the club. Each pro player has his/her own “waggle” prior to each shot. The beta version I have does not contain the files for Sergio Garcia so I do not know if he adjusts his grip a zillion times per shot as he does for real; but if so, I do not foresee playing as him any time soon.
The Pro ShopDespite its long time to the Mac market, Links is shaping up to be a great sports sim release for the Macintosh. Keep your eyes open for an IMG review of the retail product to see if some of the bugs were worked out. Bold Games should be shipping pre-orders and have the title in quantity around 26 July 2002.