Links Championship Edition
For what seems an eternity now, Links has been regarded as the benchmark for computer golf simulations. The series has always been highly regarded for its realistic putting mechanics and its attention to detail in it's course designs. Links 2001 was regarded as a significant improvement in the series as it offered a new 3D engine. To be honest though the improvements didn't really do anything to harm or improve the game.
The game comes with the standard features such as multiple swing types and course designer. The swing types range from Easy to Powerstroke. Easy requires that you just place the marker where you want the ball to land and click to initiate the swing and then click when the indicator is at the top of the swing gauge. Classic is either the standard two click or three click option that has long been the method of control in PC golf games. Powerstroke is Links' answer to the Trueswing system used in Sierra's PGA Championship Golf. Powerstroke does its level best to simulate a real club swing but I find that it is far too ineffective and nowhere near as intuitive as the aforementioned Trueswing. The course designer is comprehensive but will require you to invest a great deal of time into it before you can create anything like a playable course.
One feature of the Links series in recent years is the Modes of Play or MoP system that allows you to create your very own custom golf game. Believe it or not this actually gives Links a refreshing edge when compared to the other golf games. The MoP system also comes with a massive amount of game variations included.
The quality of the courses are as high as ever. The courses that are exclusive to this edition are Royal Melbourne Golf Club, Oakmont Country Club, Frankfurter Golf Club and The Judge Course at Capitol Hill. These courses have all been splendidly created and Links connoisseurs will not be disappointed with them.
The golfers that are included are Sergio Garcia, Annika Sorenstam, Mike Weir, Hidemichi Tanaka, Keith Clearwater and Arnold Palmer. The video capture system that is used for the golfers is perhaps the one aspect of the game that holds its progress back. The grainy image of the golfer against the 3D terrain looks decidedly poor and it's about time some 3D motion captured models replaced them.
The Links game designers still haven't solved the chipping around the green problem either. When you have to perform a chip shot around the green it is still far too easy to chip the ball in the hole. In fact it is easier to chip the ball in from off the green than it is to perform a medium length putt on the green. This problem has remained since LinksLS back in 1996 and you would have thought that by now it would have been corrected.
Deaf gamers need not be troubled by Links Championship Edition. There is no commentary and the only verbal information given out is the rather silly comments from the players when they perform a bad or good shot. Having said that though there are no subtitles for the course videos and the Pro Tip option at the beginning of a hole is verbal only. There are also some .avi clips that are used to demonstrate the swing types and again these have no subtitles.
Links Championship Edition is Links 2001 (it even comes with the Links 2001 manual) bundled with the expansion pack, course converter and 4 new courses (to make a total of 13). In terms of value for money this edition of Links cannot be questioned, that is if you haven't bought an edition of Links within the last few years. If you already own Links 2001 then what's on offer here may seem of little value as the course converter can be downloaded freely from the Links website. If you own Links 2001 but don't own the expansion pack then effectively all you'll be gaining from this pack is the courses from the expansion pack and the four new courses so it'll be £34.99 for eight courses which I suppose isn't too bad. However if you bought the expansion pack as well then it's asking a lot to pay just under £35 for four courses.
Overall Game Rating: 8.2/10 Still a quality PC golf experience but this edition will only appeal to Links completists and those who don't own a copy of Links from the last couple of years.
Deaf Gamers comment: Although there are no obstacles to prevent deaf gamers from enjoying the game there are unsubtitled elements such as the course videos and pro tips which do prevent full access to all the game elements.