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Links Extreme (PC) Review

Background Info

Links Extreme is definitely not your father's computer golf simulation. Whether or not you'll enjoy this unique twist on the otherwise stoic game of golf will likely depend on your view of the sport. If you think Happy Gilmore and the last scene of Caddyshack are a step in the right direction then Links Extreme may be the game for you. However, if you're a golf traditionalist who gets teary-eyed at the thought of a crisp seven iron, or puts on a sport coat and tie to watch the Masters on TV, you will definitely be disappointed.

To create Links Extreme, Access took the core gaming engine from its award-winning Links LS 99 software and added several new "extreme" modes of play, as well as 27 unusual holes of golf. In addition, the standard Links practice range has been replaced by Armadillo Al's driving range. Here, a player can shoot explosive golf balls at a variety of jagged 2D pop-up targets similar to a penny arcade.

Presentation/Graphics : 85
The course rendering engine is the same as in Links LS 99. This provides the finest graphics in computer golf. In fact I would rate Links LS 99's graphics a 98 out of 100. Unfortunately, the extremely pixilated 2D objects used in the driving range, and in many of the on-course animations, detract from an otherwise beautifully rendered course and high-quality golfer animations. For more information on the Links LS graphics engine see Chris C.'s review.

Presentation/Audio : 85
The audio is very similar to that of Links LS 99. On top of this strong foundation various explosions and battle sounds are added. Also, some very well done Caribbean music provides the appropriate atmosphere for Mojo Bay.

Interface/Options : 90
Here, the game borrows heavily from Links LS 99. In fact the only significant departure is in the driving range mode. In this mode, the traditional Links two- and three-click methods are discarded in favor of a simple one-click straight line shot where distance is controlled by adjusting a sliding loft control rather than choosing between standard clubs. Again, The Sports Gaming Network's Links LS 99 review is a good resource for more information on the Links Extreme interface.

Gameplay : 60
The new 18-hole course is called Mojo Bay. This course is set on Caribbean island with a distinct voodoo theme, complete with wandering zombies. This is the course where a player will likely spend most of their time. In addition, there is a nine-hole course called Dimension X. Dimension X is a World War I battlefield with all the trappings, including trenches, barbed wire, and biplanes.

While the game includes traditional stroke play, the heart of Links Extreme is its three new modes of play. The first, and most interesting, is the "Extreme" mode which is played only at Mojo Bay. Here you can play against another player in traditional stroke play with an added twist. That twist is magic balls. These balls come in two flavors, helpful balls to lower your score and "prank" balls that wreak havoc on you opponent's game. There are a number of helpful balls such as the "tee ball" that allows every shot to be played tee'd up; the "rocket ball" that allows you to drive well over four hundred yards; the "floater" that provides its own grass-covered floating raft in case your shot hits the water; and the "slam dunk" ball that will fly directly into the cup. To keep things interesting the game also provides "prank" balls designed to add strokes your opponents score. An example of this type of ball is the "right turn" ball that will take a 90 degree turn halfway to the hole. However, these "prank" balls can be overcome by your opponent if he/she hits a particularly well-timed shot.

The second new mode of play is called "Poison." In this mode you can win the game by either posting the lowest score or by killing all the other players in the game with your exploding golf balls. Each time you score a direct hit with an exploding golf ball your opponent loses health points. When they reach zero they are out of the game. The general strategy in this game boils down to, "if your opponent is a better golfer, blow him up."

The final new mode is called "Death Match" and is most often played on the Dimension X course. Here the game of golf takes a back seat to the art of war. The winner in this mode is the lone survivor. In fact, the only reason for playing tee-to-green at all is that if you are taking a lot of hits and are near death you can try to hole-out thereby giving yourself a brief break to recover before beginning the next hole.

While all three modes of play are certainly different than anything we've seen in the past from golf games, the novelty wears off after a few rounds. But, at least this is a few rounds longer than one could stand the monotony of Armadillo Al's driving range.

Overall : 70
While at first Links Extreme appears to be creative breath of fresh air in the world of computer golf simulation, the novelty of the game's courses and unusual modes of play wear off very quickly. This is particularly true if you primarily play single golfer games. Unfortunately, the stellar Links graphics engine is not enough to save this game from being erased from a hard drive as soon as this review is complete.

By: Dan Enebo 8/19/99

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