Links Championship Edition

Links Championship Edition
OS X Compatible

Company: Bold By Destineer
Price: $48.95

In my experience golf is a game that you either like or hate. There is no in-between, no happy medium. If I bring up golf with a peer of mine, I always seem to get one of two reactions. Either “what’s the point of hitting that little ball into that little hole!” or “Tiger Woods is awesome.” If you’re someone who would say the latter and you own a Macintosh, then Links Championship Edition (Links CE) is the game for you.

The Basics
Links CE is a golf simulation for the Macintosh, which is the sequel to Links LS and Links Pro. The game is very easy to get started with and it is relatively easy to learn the basics of game play. Initially you can click the “Quick Start” button to begin immediately, but the game does give you a plethora of options on just about everything from wind direction/speed to green speed to level of play. What’s more, you can set up different types of play, such as stroke, skins, match, or tournament.

Links CE allows you to play by yourself, or against opponents such as other humans or computer-simulated players and pros. Play against other humans can take place on the same computer, over a network or even over the Internet. Best of all, the Internet game play is asynchronous, meaning that you don’t have to see what the other person is doing, so it is always your turn.

The simulation features thirteen different courses that are exact duplicates of the real thing. Links CE will even import Links LS courses so you can continue to use your old courses with the newest version of Links.

What’s New
The most obvious new feature in Links Championship Edition is that it is Mac OS X compatible. However, it also includes a host of new features, the biggest of which being a brand new graphics rendering engine. This new engine allows for terrain surfaces that include cliffs, arches, and bunker overhangs. According to Bold By Destineer, the ball physics have also been tuned to perfection to give a more realistic trajectory once the ball is hit. Moreover, those of you that have monitors that support 1280×1024 resolution will now enjoy full screen game play, which is quite stunning to say the least.

Other new features include a full-fledged course designer, dynamic cameras that can switch views, as the ball is in play, in game quick tips, new golfer dialogue and audience applause, championship level difficulty, and a new powerstroke swing mode. The powerstroke swing mode more accurately simulates the dynamics of an actual golf swing. Though this will not appeal to the casual player, low handicap and pro golfers will appreciate this very complex but powerful feature.

Windows Influence
The news on Links CE is not all good, unfortunately. Though the new graphics are stunning and the ball physics and flow of play is more realistic, the game is unbearably slow on even the fastest machines. My “QuickSilver” G4/733 with an NVIDIA GeForce 2MX graphics card could hardly keep up with the redraws necessary. My PowerBook G4/1Ghz with an ATI Radeon 9000 Mobility is a completely different story, though. Redraws are very quick and the game play is quite enjoyable, however window dragging in the game is still quite slow.

It’s clear that the cause of not only this sluggishness but also loss of intuitiveness is the result of this game being a direct port from the Windows platform. First and foremost, there is no way to exit to the Mac OS X finder once you are playing the game. That’s a huge problem in this day and age of multitasking, especially in OS X!!

The problems do not end there, however. Installing golfer personalities is a very long and complicated process that is not documented anywhere. You actually have to go in and manually drag them over from each of the four CD’s, because there is no way to do this in the user interface of the program. Any intermediate or beginning user would not figure this out, as the location of these files is a couple of directories deep. This is a very real problem indeed.

Links Championship Edition requires a Power Macintosh G3 266Mhz or better with Mac OS 9 or X, and at least 64 MB of RAM (128 MB required under OS X). Links CE will not work on a “Beige” G3 unless you have installed a video card with at least 6 MB of memory, which can display 800×600 resolution.

You can purchase Links Championship Edition online from Bold By Destineer, as well as from many mail order catalogs and online distribution sites. The full version costs $48.95.

The Summary
Links Championship Edition is a welcome addition to the growing list of games available for Mac OS X. Apple’s primetime operating system is finally ready, and it is great to see game developers delivering on their promises of outstanding games for the Macintosh. Links Championship Edition is a great game that brings realistic and unmatched golf simulation back to the Macintosh. Moreover, it is a vast improvement over Links LS, which was quirky and sluggish at best.

Unfortunately the signs that Links Championship Edition is actually a port from the Windows version are all too apparent. Parts of the game are ridiculously slow even on my 1Ghz PowerBook G4 with a 64 MB ATI Radeon 9000 Mobility graphics card. What’s more, the game actually says Links 2001 when it starts up, which was the name for Links Championship Edition on the Windows platform. One would think they would at least change the startup screen! What’s more, the inability to access the Mac OS X finder (or even the dock) is a big problem, and it is clear that Links Championship Edition could be much faster and more intuitive if it was truly written for the Macintosh.

With that said, it is important to realize that Links Championship Edition is a great game, but it is not outstanding. It is enjoyable in its current state if you have a relatively new Macintosh, but if your machine is more than two years old, forget about it. In summary, the pros and advantages of this game definitely outweigh even the major blunders above. If you like golf and you have a decent Macintosh, recommends Links Championship Edition. Now, if only real golf was so easy.


MacMice Rating: 4 out of 5

Adam Karneboge


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