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Sid Meier's SimGolf Review
developer: Firaxis Games
PII-300, 32MB RAM, 600MB HDD
|ESRB rating: E
release date: Jan 23, 02 (released)
|» All About Sid Meier's SimGolf on ActionTrip|
When you make two trendsetting companies work together on a project, you can well expect it to provide you with good atmosphere and interesting playability. Sid Meier's Firaxis Games (famous for its Alpha Centauri and Civilization III), and Maxis Games (designers of The Sims, and many more games) created an involving managerial-strategy game called SimGolf. I can freely say that SimGolf presents an interesting and very playable game... not as much as Civilization or the The Sims, but good nonetheless.
SimGolf covers the development of a golfer from his amateur days to super-championships. Apart from the character development, the game is also focused on designing a perfect golf-course. So, you think it is simple to dig eighteen little holes in the ground and open a prestigious golf-club? Welcome to SimGolf...
Initially, you can select one of the several modes of play. The game features the Sandbox mode in which you have no financial or time limits. Here, you can take your time to design golf courses, which you can later use in the championships... which brings us to the second mode. If you designed a golf course, you can test it competing against other players. The Internet is already swarming with fan-sites full of home-made golf-courses, and Firaxis is also doing their best to give the fans proper support (the Grand Slam is simply fantastic).
Welcome to my hacienda!
A nice downhill shot.
If you wish to play the campaign, you can choose between playing a campaign based on a famous golf player, or create a custom campaign.
Sims will meet and communicate during their games of golf, and if a significant number of these encounters lead to a friendship or a relationship, your golf club will become more popular (Will, you devil - ed).
You start the game in 2001 with nothing but $100,000 and a relatively large estate where you get to build your golf courses on. You can pick one of the estates on the golf-ball-shaped globe. Some estates will initially be inaccessible for purely financial reasons, and some players might even want to stick to the course they built and decide against changing their territory even when they get rich. The territories can be the desert (Las Vegas), tropical (Hawaii) or coastal Scotland. Each type of terrain has characteristic buildings and tile-sets.
Game interface is exceedingly simple. You can access all game options and features through the three menus you can use while building the terrain. The icon with a flag represents the tiles and objects that can be used for designing courses. Golf-courses are your main means of profit, so they have to be as imaginative and interesting as possible. You will see how much each of your courses if worth by following the calculations and SimGolf Association reports on terrain quality.
You start designing the course by placing the green flag and the tee somewhere on the map. Between the two, you can let your imagination run loose... You can apply different types of terrain: rough, sand, pot bunker, stream, water, firm way and fairway. The terrain tiles are mostly the same for each locality. Once you have designed the course itself, you better pay some attention to its surrounding elements, like the walking paths or neighboring celebrity estates (for instance, more players will come to play on your course if Sylvester 'Stallion' happens to be living on a nearby estate). The most important of these surrounding elements are benches, scenic bridges, monuments, trees and flowers. All these elements influence course popularity.
Watch out for those sand-traps.
Hey, move that blasted thing off the grass.
I think this will do the trick.
Building structures and developing them is necessary as you gain more and more courses, and see your golf-club slowly gaining the country club status and eventually becoming a championship setting. The basic facilities will let your visitors gain more experience, and increase your popularity; they include Putting Green (helps imaginative players), Cart Garage (lets players move more quickly around), Pro Shop (for buying equipment), Driving Range (for practicing strong shots), Resort Hotel, Snack bar and other structures which increase your property value and the membership price as well as the green fee.
Maintaining your course and popularity is one of the crucial things in the game, so you can hire professionals to do the job. The most becoming of them is Tommy the Technician who will be in charge of getting rid of the insects and weeds which would produce a negative response with players. There are rangers and sheriffs who will make players play faster, people who sell refreshing drinks to players and celebrities to greet them at the entrance. Every employee has to be paid, of course, but this will be only one of the many expenses you have to take care of as an owner of a golf-club.
Apart from making money on the course, the game also features your avatar, which can also bring you a lot of money. Your golfer will acquire experience in some ten fields while playing golf. Once your club reaches a Country Club status, he can develop his characteristics to full extent.
You will frequently get a chance to play demanding matches in which you can bet on the whole game and each individual hole. This is one of the best ways to make money and to tweak up the design of your holes. The other way is way harder, and requires you to win a championship.
Playing golf is especially fun, as you can choose which moves you will be using for each hole (Straight shot, Fade (l to r), Draw (r to l), High backspin and Low punch shot). Your character will automatically pick the clubs and use his skills.
Beside all these appealing elements, the game also has a number of flaws which simply shouldn't have happened. For instance the graphics are displayed at 800x600 and the resolution cannot be changed. This is OK for low end computers, but players with bigger monitors will want to get a better resolution. The characters are way too small and poorly drawn and animated. The great in-game music will rarely be activated, as the sound is focused on the annoying player comments and sound effects.
SimGolf will undoubtedly attract all the Sims' as well as golf fans, as it offers a new approach to this interesting sport.
8.4 Very Good
Great animation and long-lasting fun, designing golf courses;
Sound is buggy, a couple nasty bugs.
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