by Chris Barylick
November 6, 2000
Links LS 2000
Links LS 2000 (ships November 14)
Pros: great graphics, amazing modeling, online gameplay
Cons: limited gameplay; crowd graphics
Links LS 2000 is a revamped Macintosh version of one of the premiere golf games available for Windows, offering gamers one of the most beautiful and realistic golf simulators available for any computer platform.
Links LS 2000 features several modes of play scattered across the game's six beautiful courses that have been modeled after their real life counterparts. Every detail, from sand trap location to the green, has been accounted for. Video-captured players, including Arnold Palmer and Fuzzy Zoeller, contribute to the realism of the game, although the static, pixelated crowds do little to complement the life-like players.
Gameplay itself is quite an experience, despite its ups and downs. The game does an accurate job of reflecting the physics and the game of golf, but lining up shots with the marker system, for example, is frustrating. Links LS 2000 allows the player to aim for different parts of the course, but blocks them when it seems hard to determine whether the ball will land on the fairway or in the woods, thereby giving the game a somewhat constrained feel as to what you can shoot for. The wind and terrain changes make the game feel alive, but the feeling that you can only aim for a few parts of the course holds the game back from being completely realistic.
Links LS 2000 allows you to choose between a convenient, all-purpose general swing perfect for long drives, a more user-intensive power swing for more control over the shot, and an obscure two to three click swing. The power swing is terrific for long drives, but once the ball hits the green new players may be frustrated with how many factors have to be taken into account. Novices and intermediates alike will only occasionally be able to win against the computer, which has mastered all the idiosyncrasies of the club, power, and terrain angles. This results in a game of trial and error in order to understand how the game works.
The game's announcer will offer up tips from time to time but will mostly offer humorousif repetitivecommentary on your shots.
Links LS 2000 also features online play (with GameRanger support), allowing gamers to play online against each other, either joining a game or hosting one themselves. Performance over a 56K connection is surprisingly good, and more than tolerable.
Playing Links LS 2000, I'm reminded of a quote from Calvin & Hobbes: "Being a parent is wanting to hug and strangle your kid at the same time." The game offers plenty of impressive features, but at the same time still leaves plenty of room for improvement. Golfers are sure to enjoy the title, but without that initial interest gamers may find themselves at a loss with Links LS 2000.