Links has been the most successful golf game on the PC, now Microsoft has ported it over the X-Box with tremendous success.
Links does everything right, from the player models, to the gorgeous courses, to even the gallery. The scenery on much of the courses is very eye catching, and i found myself looking at the scenery many times. There are some real nice touches like the waves crashing, tree swaying in the wind, and dust particels when your ball lands in the sand or in the rou…h. the actual motion of your golfer swinging looks very realistic, and there are some very neat “matrix” like camera tricks when you hit your ball, from slow motion to blur motion.
The sound is very well done also. There isn’t too much sound in a golf game, but sounds such as the club hitting the ball, wind, water, and the general atmosphere are well done. The play by play and commentary is provided by Jim Nelford, Ken Venturi, Jeff Waters, and Rod Zundel, who all do a nice job of describing what is going on. You can also add your own custom tracks during gameplay if you don’t like the generic music. The gallery has some really nice sounds such as cheering after a birdie, yelling for the ball to go in, and politely clapping after a nice shot onto the green. They even have people telling the crowd to “please be quiet” as you go to putt.
Links has a very good gameplay system, it is simple, and can get very challenging. Most shots are played like this, choose your club, look where the hole is, then use the left analog stick to swing. The swinging motion feels quite real on the stick as you must move the stick in a fluid motion up and down, just as you would a real golf club. Putting is just a good to, as you move the stick down to and then up to swing your putter. There are many gauges to help you when you first start out that let you know how much power to use, and when to release your swing, these make it very easy to learn the game. As you move on to more difficult stages many of the meters aren’t allowed and you must go on what you think is the right amount of power.
The main two gameplay modes are career, and online. The career mode is pretty simple, create your own golfer then enter tournament to see how much money you can win. As you win more you are allowed to enter more tournament for bigger money winnings. As you progress through the career mode you can upgrade your golfers attributes like power, control, distance, to upgrade each of these attributes cost money. As you play more you get to unlock more courses, which can then be played anytime.
Links also supports x-box live and is very well done on-line. Once you create a game you can invite up to 12 players to play and then you can start playing. The really nice feature about playing on line is that you play your game the same time everyone else is, and you get to see their ball real time on the screen as with yours. It is a very neat feature. You still have the ability to communicate with anyone playing online. All your stat are kept online also, so you can see how you did.
Just playing a multiplayer game off line is also very fun. They have everything form skins game, to closest to the pin, to longest drive, and many more.
With a long career mode, unlockable courses, downloadable courses, on-line mode, and many multiplayer modes, links has a huge replay value. There are many reasons to keep on playing links, and will take the player a while to unlock everything the game has to offer.
Links is easily the best golf game on the x-box, with great graphics, sounds, almost perfect control, and long replay value there really is no other choice on the x-box this year. I can’t wait to see what they do in links 2005.