Links LS, by Microsoft
Posted: 10-Apr-2001

4 out of 5 Mice

Vendor: Microsoft Type: COMMERCIAL

Reviewer: John Larue Class: GAMES


Related Review: Links LS Review by Judd Spitzer

Links LS is an advanced virtual golf game that includes three prime Hawaiian golf courses located on the island of Maui: 1) The Kapalua Plantation Course, 2) The Kapalua Village Course, and 3) The LaTrobe Country Club, which is the default course for the game (you have to custom load the other two courses from the provided extra disks). The premier course is The LaTroube Country Club, which Arnold Palmer is a major financial partner. All 18 holes of the LaTroube are really challanging, from fairly short 176yd 3 pars, to really long 574yd 5 pars. Each hole has it's particular challenges, whether it be a strong cross wind on a seemingly lazy 3 par, or an uphill battle with a nasty head wind of 15 knots in your face on a 5 par. On each hole, you really have to use your head in choosing your club and also direction of shot.

The golfer's menu is very user friendly; just slide your mouse towards the bottom of the screen, and a multitude of selections appear. To find out what each item on the menu does, just position your cursor over each item, and a short description popup window appears adjacent to the item. Also in the pop up window a "hot-key" symbol appears, so if you become really familiar with the menu items, all you have to do is key in the "hot-key" combo and there you are. As an example, if you would like to see a complete overhead view of the particular hole you're about to play, just press Cmd-V. One of the most useful hot-keys is the "Flyby" (Cmd-B). Once pressed, you're are immeditely in the cockpit of a helicopter with Arnold Palmer, flying above the hole, as Arnie describes the best way to play the hole., Another great feature is the help you get when you are setting a shot up. If you're too far to the left or right, a game window pops up and tells you that you are either too far to the right or to the left of the pin for your shot set-up, and asks if you would like your shot reset to face the pin. You can say yes, reset the shot, or you can keep the shot as set, and continue you blunder.

Overall I found the game well thought out and planned. Another nice touch is the Arnold Palmer mini-bio. There were many interesting facts about good old Arnie from the past that I had never had a clue about. If you're an advid golfer, these facts are fun, and it makes you feel like you're closer to the pro crowd. Even if you're a weekend duffer, this game is fun, because it is so forgiving. Also, there are a few tours of private courses and golf resorts that I found added to the professional flavor of the game in general. I really enjoyed playing this game, spending hours in front of the tube.

Pros:

  • Excellent graphics
  • Realistic sound track, including some colorful metaphors from the golfers mouths, and the surrounding verbal crowd (tasteful though); the birds, airplanes, wind, thunder and helicopter sounds add quite a bit more realism, and also made it more relaxing
  • You can personalize you the player about any way you want
  • Move your mouse cursor to the bottom of your screen and the entire game menu is displayed (you don't have to click the mouse or type a key)
  • Very forgiving, as you can take a "Mulligan", do a "Gimme", and most of all, you can perform a "Rehit" (many times; and of course this adds to your score every time you take a swing)
  • Selection of clubs was a snap, along with seeing how far from the pin you are
  • Putting is good, once you practiced a few shots


Cons:

  • Difficult trying to change or aim a shot (I could never seem to hit the ball quite straight enough, as I kept slicing or hooking the ball - very frustrating, could be a bug or a mouse specific problem)
  • Missing a nice tutorial (would make your lessons learned list quite a bit shorter)


Scoring:

Playability
Design
Interface
Keeping My Interest

Overall


Summary:

From the start, I was impressed with the overall structure of the game, and it is definitely challenging, as it should be. In my opinion, the Pros outweigh the Cons by a long shot, so I recommend Links LS. I'll be playing it often. I award the game 4 out of 5 Mice.