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PC Reviews: Links Championship Edition


Links Championship Edition Screenshots

The Final Say!


LInks Championship - reviewed by Andrew P
Review Date: 07 March 2002
Review Score: 8.4/10 
Distributor: Microsoft

"What do you get when you add some more courses and extras to Links 2001? A whole new game apparently."

Microsoft recently reduced the price of Links 2001 and Links Championship, so impulsegamer.com thought it was high time to review this latest incarnation of the best-selling Links series. Links 2001 was already a very good game, only really rivalled by PGA Championship Golf by Sierra, but with Links Championship comes more and more goodies.


Golf games can be hard to rate. After all, thereís only so much you can do with this game. Itís got a very little ball, wide open expanses of the green stuff, and very little else. Developers got the game pretty close to reality a few years ago, and since then subsequent releases have been little more than patches on something that already worked well.


However, with Links now published by Microsoft, it came no surprise to discover this latest iteration HAD been re-moulded into something a bit different from its predecessors.


Probably the hardest thing to get right in a golf title is the physics engine. Getting such a small object as a golf ball of all things to react with a large, natural environment filled with different terrain types and features in a realistic manner is incredibly hard to get consistently right.


Sure the previous titles from Sierra and Accolade and others got the physics right some or most of the time, but Iím sure every golf gamer has experienced the odd bounce or the non-stop rolling of a ball down a slope.


The rolling problem most often occurred on greens, where developers slightly exaggerated the angles of the slopes to provide what appeared to be a more realistic result graphically, and smoothed the green to the point where it was almost like putting on glass, not grass.



Links 2001 and Links Championship have a new physics model that gets even closer to reality. The ball seems to consistently react the way you would expect, and most importantly, it traverses the green surface as it should.


Links Championship comes with 13 courses, more than enough for most gamers. Most of these courses are modelled off real courses, and the course of most interest to Aussies would most likely be the Royal Melbourne Golf Club Ė yes, an Australian course! However, youíd be hard pressed to determine the made up courses, for they all share an incredible attention to detail.


Graphically, the game is very impressive. The terrain is modelled realistically, the textures are most natural, and with the lighting model in place, the shadowing adds the final touches to the way the course appears, particularly at the short end in the bunkers and around the green.


As an added bonus, the game allows you full use of your graphics cardís capabilities. Seeing Links Championship running in 1600x1200 at 32-bit colour is sure to overload a golf gamerís senses.


The animation on the golfers is also very crisp and natural. There are a large number of player models, both professional and amateur, male and female available to choose from. So if you want to play as Sergio Garcia or Annika Sorenstam, go right ahead.


There really is very little to complain about with Links Championship. The background sound effects and playerís voices meld seamlessly with the environment and bring an added element to the immersion factor.


Of course, golf games arenít complete without course designers, and Links Championship comes with the world famous Arnold Palmer Course Designer. Arnold leant his name to this editor quite a while ago now, and every version proves even more why this top class golfer should continue to do so.


Filled with options, the Course Designer allows you to make the course of your dreams. Featuring multiple views, an expandable library of objects, the ability to click-and-drag the various components and more, the editor will be a dream for those nuts who want to make a course suit their needs.


Of course, because the Course Designer IS there, there are hundreds of user-made courses online ready for you to download and instantly expand your course library. Links Championship has links to the Links Country Club website, a launching pad for the many sites devoted to the Links series, and the huge number of additional courses.


Links Championship also integrates into MSN/Windows Messenger, thus bringing a tighter integration with the online gaming experience. You can chat to your buddies online, and initiate Links from within the Messenger interface Ė never easier.


The recently announced Links 2003 wonít be out until towards the end of this year, so if youíre craving a golf simulation that takes advantage of the latest graphics technologies, has a good selection of courses AND has a course designer, head out to your local game store and get Links Championship now.

- Andrew P

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