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Microsoft Golf (PC) Review

Publisher: Microsoft

Background Info

We have been sitting on this new golf game from Microsoft for some time now. Not necessarily because we didn't want to review it, but mainly because we haven't wanted to put it down. You can rely on Microsoft to bring a solid, well-built golf game, just as you can bet the sun will rise again tomorrow. The MS Golf series does this with this year's title, MS Golf 98. Every year MS Golf comes out I get it one way or another. Why? Mainly because it is a very stable and trustworthy title, and this year is no exception. The Graphics are robust, the gameplay is acceptable, and the interface is built for a beginner which is just what the doctor ordered. Besides all that, they have added 4 NEW COURSES!! Now isn't that why you would buy it?

Presentation/Graphics : 89
Not much has been done here it seems for this year's version. In fact it looks very similar to other courses from the past. Well, there is one bonus, and that's the weather. Fog is apparent in the game which was something lagging from other MS Golf versions. Unfortunately, that's about all the additions to the game besides the player types, which is a bad thing for new games. Microsoft must feel like they have perfected the courses on their golf title because all the attention was paid to the interface and the addition of "NEW TOYS!" Before hitting a hole a window pops up where you are narrated about the hole through a flyby down the middle of the course where you are instructed where the hazzards are and the good spots to hit. However, after the first two holes it becomes almost a nuisance. Microsoft must have noticed this too because it is very easily eliminated with the click of a mouse.

Presentation/Audio : 75
Aside from some really jazzy music, a mainstay for Microsoft these days, the sounds are pretty standard for golf games. These would be greatly missed if gone from the game; however, the birds become repetitive and you can only hear a sprinkler in the background so much before you get tired of the sounds. More variety, less repetition is the name of the game if you are to have a title with audible realism built in. The commentator brings light to this as he always seems to have somthing new to say. There is sarcasm and truth in his voice depending on how you are doing and what your ball has been doing. It is somewhat rare to hear the same things twice in the first 9 holes.

Interface/Options : 87
MS Golf's interface is, as always, fresh and new and provides the user with very easily chosen menu items that range from Quick Play to Multiplayer using Microsoft's Internet Gaming Zone. Each option is very highly visible and also very relative to the game of golf. Many options are available including ball size, player type, graphic detail, and sounds. There are only 4 player types to choose from and a slew of shirt colors, which present the limitations of the game. Weather effects are there including fog and clouds which is something most titles don't have without a 3DFX card. A nice aspect of MS Golf 98 is the fact that it is loaded with tutorials. Just about every part of the game has some information and a small training course designed to help you better play the game. You could also say that Microsoft went with a goal of keeping the game simple, because that's exactly the appearance it gives off.

Gameplay : 89
Gameplay is something I cherish in golf all too much. As with any game on the market today, or ones that I have bought in the past, gameplay is the chief concern for this gamer and is not something to be taken lightly. Microsoft has captured the notion of gameplay quite well, maybe too well. When taking a swing, of which there are three types by the way, every time your hand goes slightly astray will have quite a LARGE and gross effect on the ball's direction and flight. The swing meter is very unforgiving; however, it does add a bit to the game because of its looks and ease of use. You have a choice between the 2-Click, 3-Click, Natural Swing, and "Sim Swing." The first two are self-explanatory, but the third is their attempt to make the swing as natural feeling as possible. To accomplish a Microsoft "Natural Swing" you must move the mouse backwards, then swiftly forwards to emulate your swing. Well, I have one problem with this. When golfing, you don't go backwards and then forwards, you go from side to side, usually right to left unless you are one of those "lefties" (which, by the way, does not exist as an option for setting your golfer for a Left Handed swing). The "Sim Swing" is basically like "Coach" mode in other games. You don't actually swing at the ball, you have your player do it. This simply means you point and the CPU hits. Other aspects of the game are very well handled, and the terrain is very realistic.

Difficulty: 91
The ability to learn how to play golf in this title seems to be the key. With the tutorials and the easy swing you can perform with the 2 and 3 click interfaces, it's hard to call this title any more than very easy to learn. The tutorials give you a heads up on how to work the swing, aim your ball, and other miscellaneous golf tips, that make the whole experience short, quick, and to the point. There isn't much room for guessing unless you are guessing where the tutorials are, and that's not difficult to find. I found this game to be quite user friendly and perfect for the beginner as well as the golf professional.

Overall : 85
I am a sucker for stable gaming titles. There are too many of them out there that are incomplete or lacking one feature from another. However, there are some key issues they missed in this title that may sway the average golf game fan, but for the die hard, gimme something good to eat, golf game lover, this one is a sure thing and not easily passed up on. Sure it has its drawbacks, but you can't beat the stability and experience MS Golf 98 glows with and is a safe and sure buy in my book.

By: Doug Pierce 8/25/98

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