Microsoft Golf for Windows Multimedia Edition. (Software Review) (computer game) (Evaluation)
by Scott A. May
Tired of number crunching? Fed up with facts and figures? Open a window and hit the cool fairways with the Microsoft Golf for Windows Multimedia Edition. Leisurely paced for the laid-back Windows environment, this game provides instant escape from the daily grind.
You'll have to dig deep to find the names Bruce Carver or Access Software, but make no mistake, this is essentially Links 386 Pro for Windows--watered down in some areas and enhanced in others. The MPC version adds more than 80MB of animated course previews and digitized full-motion video. As you'd expect, system requirements are substantially greater for the CD version, including an MPC-complaint CD-ROM drive, 4MB RAM, and an MPC-compatible sound card. You'll also need at least 5MB of hard drive space for minimal installation, or a whooping 96MB to transfer all files to hard disk. Doing so speeds up gameplay, but you lose the space-saving advantage of CD-ROM storage.
For those concerned with speed, the programmers have done another excellent job of delivering top performance at minimal MPC Level 1 standards. If speed is a problem, the first suspect should be your CPU or video card. although a 386SX running at 16 MHz is the minimum requirement, a 386DX at 25 MHz is a more reasonable low-end recommendation. Likewise, a Windows accelerator video card is almost a must. The game offers both 16- and 256 color versions, but what little speed is gained by running in 16 colors is negated by downright ugly dithered graphics. In 256-color mode, you'll enjoy the full beauty of the game's photo-realistic golfers and smoothly textured, digitized landscapes. User-defined levels of graphic detail also allow you to fine-tune the display to suit your system.
Up to eight players can compete on the included 18-hole golf course--San Diego's Torrey Pines South, known for its quick greens and stunning view of the Pacific. Player options include your choice of 14 clubs, as well as tee-off positions for rookie, amateur, or pro skill levels. Games can consist of the full 18 holes or a quick tour of the front or back nine. Additional courses are available through Access's Links Championship series, including Firestone, Bayhill, Dorado Beach, and Barton Creek. With more than 500MB to spare on the CD, however, why didn't Microsoft license more courses for the disc? (Add-on CD-ROM courses will be available soon.)
The mechanics of gameplay are virtually identical to those in both Links 386 Pro and the original, disk-based Windows version. With a little creative sizing, up to six windows can be open on the screen at once: main view, top view, swing control, shot info, advanced shot setup, and scorecard. Those familiar with the original can step right up and swing away; novices will be surprised at how quickly the controls can be learned (although never mastered). The uncalibrated swing gauge makes it difficult to judge the power of your stroke accurately.
Aerial flybys present a full-motion view of each hole's gentle nuances and hidden traps. Full-motion video golf pros are always on hand to offer advice. Although there's little written documentation provided with the CD, introductory videos and extensive online help screens provide fast, essential information. Another nice touch: Digitized sound effects are in WAV format, allowing you to add your own personalized shot commentaries or weird background noises.
If you already own Links 386 Pro or the original Microsoft Golf for Windows, the multimedia edition adds many enjoyable extraneous effects but few indispensable enhancements. Newcomers to Links and Multimedia PC games in general, however, will find this product absolutely dazzling.