Sid Meier's SimGolf (PC) In spite of some bugs and design issues, SimGolf is another example of Sid Meier's ability to create simple yet addictive
By - Jeff Lackey
Sid Meier is the master of games that are easy to get into, simple to play, and yet so addictive that you'll find yourself dreaming about your next turn. Even Sid's lesser known games, such as Covert Action, contained the kind of style and "carrot-on-a-stick" gameplay that caused me many sleepless nights. SimGolf proves that the master has not lost his touch, even though there are some signs that the game was released a bit before it was ready.
SimGolf is a whimsical game in which your goal is to start with a patch of land and some cash and build it up into a thriving golf resort. While there are a variety of activities required for success, the game's center is designing a golf course that attracts enough members to make a nice profit. That requires designing the course with holes that people enjoy playing; holes that are scenic, challenging without being frustrating, varied, and which require some creativity in order to get the best score.
SimGolf's building tools make creating a hole an extremely simple exercise. Click on a tee box in the tool box and then click on the spot on the map where you want it to reside. Do the same for the green, and a line from the tee box will show you how long the hole will be. Now simply click and drop fairway, hazards, trees, etc. and you've created Hole #1. After a moment, sims will come out of the clubhouse and begin playing your masterpiece.
However, you'll soon discover the depth hidden beneath the simple interface. Sure, the sims will play your hole, but will they like it?
The inhabitants of your world are the same style of sims as in other Sim games, which means they each have individual characteristics; thus something that pleases one may irritate another. Some golfers can hit it a country mile, while others have a tough time getting it past the ladies' tees. The better golfers on your course can fade or draw the ball at will, while the hackers may have a hard time landing the ball on a 100 yard wide fairway. Therefore, designing a hole that is fun for every skill level is a real challenge -- and a lot of fun.
A lot of time in SimGolf is spent in tinkering with a hole: adding a tree at a strategic location in the fairway in order to introduce more decision-making, adding a little fairway in certain spots because the hole is too difficult (i.e., frustrating,) putting a small pond in front of the green to add some challenge, etc. It's a blast to create and modify a hole and then watch the sims play it and listen to their comments.