Links Extreme © Microsoft/Access Software

Everyone's had one of those moments in life when you come up with a really cool idea, such as: "Wouldn't it be great if games came out on time?" or "Wouldn't it be great that when games came out late, they wouldn't crash?" or, "Wouldn't it be cool if you could blow stuff up in golf?" Well, apparently someone else had the same idea about golf and created Links Extreme. After playing this game, though, I'm beginning to think my idea may not be so cool after all.

Links Extreme is basically, golf on steroids. The game introduces a variety of unique features never seen before in a golf game. You get to use wacky golf balls that explode, rip through the terrain, bounce insanely, or do various other tricks. You also get to play on some pretty crazy courses, Mojo Bay, a strange swamp style course, and Dimension X, a war-torn landscape, neither of which is like any golf course you've ever seen. Want to blow stuff up? Then take a shot at the Demolition Driving Range, where the golf balls are explosive and there are plenty of targets. And with play modes such as Extreme Golf, Poison golf, and Deathmatch, you know some there are going to be some seriously warped ways to play this game. Besides all of this, the game also features prank golf balls, animations on the courses (such as wandering zombies), and multi-player extreme golfing on the Internet

The first thing you notice is the nicely done front end. The menus are laid out in a nice and orderly fashion, making getting into your first game relatively easy. There are some tutorials that run you through the various features of the game, teaching you how to use the various swings available, and some words on how to play the courses. Overall, the tutorial does a nice job of telling you how to play the game. After you choose what mode to play, your golfer, and browse the many options available to you (such as how many trick balls you are limited to and how much damage golfers can take. Yeah damage! I'll get to that later), you are able to get right into the game. This is when things start to fall apart.

The first mode I tried, which I thought would be pretty cool, was the Demolition Driving Range. This puts you on a driving course with targets everywhere, some of which are stationary, and some that move. The goal is to rack up as many points as possible by blowing things up, and receive bonuses for racking up your points. Unfortunately, though, you may not even want to see the other ranges. The "coolness" of blowing stuff up with golf balls wears off quickly. Very quickly. With some practice, you can start getting pretty good at scoring points and racking up multipliers. Yet there is absolutely nothing here to hold your interest for very long. It's set up like a shooting range, but I realized after playing the Demolition Driving Range that golf is just not meant to be played this way. It's way too slow, and just not any fun.

Unfortunately, much of Links Extreme feels the same way, a mix of seemingly good ideas that don't always add up. Either golf is just not meant to be "extreme" or the designers did not fully realize the idea, or both. It's hard to tell in this game, because every time you see something good, there are other things that just don't fit, or are downright poorly done.

On the good side are the nicely done graphics and sounds. In this game, it's not uncommon to see wandering zombies and the undead walk across the course, our bombers fly over-head as you play. Alligators inhabit the swamp, and you'll come across haunted houses, graveyards, shipwreck, etc. The sounds include some nice tunes and some funny clips if you mess up. This spices up the golfing, but really doesn't do much for the game-play. The zombies and alligators are no threat to you (which would have made things more interesting if you had to try and stay away from them!), and they really are nothing more than eye-candy.

Another plus is the Mojo Bay course, which provides very nice 18 holes of golfing, extreme or not. This course is designed nicely, and actually challenging. The other course, Dimension X, has only 9 holes, and is average at best. So although the courses aren't too bad, there are still only a total of 27 holes, that's it. You come to know them fairly quickly. The strange balls in the game add some flair, and are one of the game's brightest points. If you hit the ball well, these special abilities of the balls take effect doing some crazy things, like bouncing off water, flying super high into the air, or rocketing to tremendous distances. It does add to the gameplay some, as you are able to come up with some fantastic, impossible shots.

I thought there was still some hope for Links Extreme, as sometimes average games are saved by brilliant multiplayer. Not this game. You shoot explosive balls at each other in order to damage the other player. The novelty of being able to attack the other player wears off when you realize this is not a Quake 2 deathmatch, and the whole idea just seems cheap after a while. The trick balls that you can give to the other player is supposed to add some excitement to the game, but they only take effect if the player hits a bad shot. Since timing your shots becomes fairly easy, you don't get to see the effects of some of the pranks you want to pull on other players. It's just not that much fun.

Add to that some flaws, such as the putting just NOT being as finely tuned as other Links games, some annoying glitches with the camera, and Links Extreme just doesn't make the cut. The game may have had potential, and the designers just didn't achieve it, or the game may have been doomed from the start as being a poor concept. Either way, Links Extreme is kind of fun for a while, but soon wears thin very quickly.


P166, 200M HD, 4X CDROM, Windows 95 / 98, Direct X 6.1








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Quick Summary:
A golf game on steroids doesn't exactly mean it'll be a great game.






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