Company: Access Software, Inc.
Estimated Price: $44.95
I have long been a fan of golf simulators for the personal
computer. Links Pro for Macintosh, from Access Software was my golf simulator of choice for a long time. There was simply nothing better, that is, until Links LS came around. Links LS is unmatched by any golf simulator today. The amount of work that has been put into this game is amazing. It is by far the closest you can get to the real thing.
It’s your choice
The thing that makes Links LS so good is that it is so customizable. It lets you pick what you want, when you want, and specify how you want it. You could easily spend 15 minutes fine tuning the game and the course to your preference before you even start the first hole–that’s how detailed this game really is.
After you select “play golf,” you can choose between 5 types of golf: “Stroke” (your normal round of golf); “Best Ball” (teams play for the fewest number of strokes or to win the most holes); “Match” (to win the most holes); your classic “Skins” game (the player who has the lowest score on the hole wins); and finally, “Practice”, which is exactly what the name says.
After you select between the 5 options of play, you can select which course you want to play at, whether you want wind and fog at the course, which tee you want to tee off on, whether or not you want Links LS to record the game, etc. You can also configure the player settings for each player. These kinds of settings would reflect what clubs the player wants in the bag, what his default shirt color is, etc.
Three courses come with Links LS: Kapalua Plantation, Kapalua Village, and Latrobe Country Club, which is Arnold Palmer’s signature course. If you select to play at Latrobe, for example, you can get Mr. Palmer’s advice on each hole through the helicopter flyby option, which, of course, is also available for all other Links LS add-on courses.
During the game
After you have chosen a course and a player, you will start your game. Links LS is very speedy on my 6400, and you can adjust the amount of detail in the terrain through the course settings option. Playing is very simple once you learn how to swing the club correctly, which doesn’t take long. And if you are having trouble, you can revert to a lower level of play (amateur, for example), which is a little more forgiving if your swing needs work.
Once you are more comfortable with the game, you can set it to pro settings, and start on a longer distance tee. If you really get ambitious, you can even specify how the player stands and hits the ball. Links LS is fun and enjoyable for every level of player – from beginner to advanced.
Gone and back again
Links LS has a retractable control panel (see screen shot below) that can be viewed by simply dragging the mouse to the bottom of the screen. Here you have total control over the program. You can select clubs, rotate your stance, view flybys, spot the pin, skip a player (in multi-player games), view the score, configure different cameras (see screen shots below), and much, much more.
You can also go to the main menu, which allows you to save the game, abort the game, or quit Links LS and return to the Finder. Here is where my only complaint comes in. You cannot switch between the Finder and Links LS while Links LS is open. You must first quit the game to access the Finder and any other applications that are running.
The Sound System
Not to be overlooked is Links LS’s sound system. It is a 16-bit, 3D stereo sound system that makes you feel like you are right there on the course. As with every other aspect of this program, you can opt to have post shot comments, in flight comments, background sounds, flyby sounds, and environmental sounds on or off. There is also an excellent sound editor that lets you edit existing sounds or create new ones.
A good step backward
Links LS is fully compatible with old Links Pro courses. It will easily import and convert them to the Links LS format, so you can play all your favorite courses while enjoying the new benefits of Links LS. The only thing that is not retained when a course is converted from Links Pro to Links LS format are the courses’ flybys. Flybys are only available with true Links LS courses, such as the three that are included with the game.
Links LS goes far beyond golf itself. You can take true virtual reality tours of Arnold Palmer’s trophy room and of the Kapalua Plantation course club house. You can also play Links LS over a modem or a network; one of its best features. It is very easy to configure and set up, it is fully compatible with Open Transport, and, if your modem and network is fast enough, it is a blast to play.
If you are having any trouble with playing, or running and configuring Links LS, you can consult the game’s built-in help system or the excellent manual that comes with Links LS. I really have to give Access Software credit here. So many software developers are trying to cut costs by making their manuals electronic, which I feel really undermines the customer. The only good user manual is the one that is on paper. It’s nice to see a company that really cares about its customers.
Links LS requires a Power Macintosh 6100/66 or better with Mac OS 7.5.1 or higher (it is fully compatible with Mac OS 8.x), a minimum of 16MB of RAM (20MB recommended), and a 2x or greater CD-ROM drive. It also requires 40MB of disk space for the minimum installation, and requires at least an 800×600 screen resolution with 16-bit (thousands) color. Screen resolutions of 1024×768, 1152×864, 1280×1024, and 1600×1200 are also supported, all at 16-bit or 24-bit (millions) color.
Links LS and its numerous add-on courses are available at virtually any retail store or mail order catalog. You can also order the game and all of its add-on courses direct from Access Software at http://www.accesssoftware.com.
I can’t even begin to describe how real Links LS is. It’s something that has to be seen to be believed. Links LS is a game that is more than worthy of your $45.00. In fact, for $45.00, it’s an absolute steal. Its backward compatibility with old Links Pro courses sets it apart not only from golf simulators, but from the dozens of simulated sports games out there that fail to retain backwards compatibility when upgraded.
Links LS is a game that every golf fan will enjoy. The features that make this game so very realistic are too numerous to count. Everything about Links LS is enjoyable. While I would have liked to see better Macintosh integration within the game’s interface, that is only a minor annoyance that I can learn to put up with. Links LS has redefined the standard for excellence in simulation games. I highly recommend Links LS for anyone who is looking to play golf on their Macintosh.