Microprose Golf


The most difficult sport to simulate on an ST (bar Himalayan Tortoise Poaching) is reincarned yet again as Microprose Golf, but donít worry Ė thereís hardly a golfing pun in sight as Ed Ricketts tees off (except that).

There's only one sport which has a bigger snooze factor than
golf and that's the annual Australian dung beadle fight. Now
Microprose have come up with a simulator that promises to liven
up the fairways in the shape of the exquisitely named Microprose
Golf. Surprisingly, it's not half bad.

Almost as many people hate watching golf on television as hate snooker, but nearly every- one has dabbled on the greens at one time or another - and all of us have made complete fools of our- selves when the ball dribbles off towards the right for approximately four feet. It looks dead simple - just bash the ball as hard as you can towards the green - but you usually end up digging up most of the fairway when you miss the ball completely. lt's all a little bit simpler with Microprose Golf.

Golf attempts to be the ultimate simulator. There are 11 sorts of game, ranging from Skins (where you play each hole for money) and Tournament (the standard 18, 36 or 72 hole game) to Threeball and Head-to-Head. Some of these are only accessible to players with no handicap, so just as in real life you need to win plenty of tournaments before you can play against the pros. Up to four people can play, including eight ranked computer opponents with customisable playing styles - if you're awful at putting for instance, you can make your opponent even worse.

Instead of showing you the ball and the green and expecting you to get the one on to the other by any means possible, the game gives you the option of changing every fine detail to polish up your shot. If you think the default club isn't suitable, change it. Tee heights and even the way you stand affect a shot in real golf, and the same applies here. And all the time you must allow for the wind blowing your ball off course.

Icons - you can't live with them, you can't live without them. well, you couldn't play Microprose Gold without them, anyway. They're scattered round the screen with a vengeance, and everything is controlled using them.

The graphics certainly pass ''good'' and could almost be described as ''stunning.'' The fairways are covered with contours and show very clearly the changing ground height, particularly when the ''camera'' is following the ball across rolling hills and rivers. A Replay option enables you to view each shot from several camera angled and save the most impressive straight to a disk. Because all the courses - and the objects on them, excluding the player - are actual 3D objects, they can be viewed from any angle without needing sprites for each view, giving you some very realistic vistas.

There is, of course, a problem with this non-sprite-based approach: the objects, especially the trees, don't have all the detail they could - since they're constructed of polygons the little detail there is in the trees only appears when the ball stops moving. One other minor graphical gripe is that the golfer sprite is a little shoddy and badly animated, as if it has been added as an afterthought. The ball moves and bounces just as you would expect it to, though.

• Putting is a much simpler affair than driving. Once you've worked out how hard and in which direction you need to hit the ball to get it across the green, just click on the arrow to start the meter rising. The centre mark gives you a useful indication of how hard you'd need to hit the ball if you were on a level green to hole out.

• The all-important score card. Obviously the idea is to score as many points as possible - the record so far stands at 423,000. The score here is pathetic - I mean, 2 points is nothing, is it? It's not easy, though - you have to find different places to put the ball without getting it in the little hole too often. Odd game, golf.

Surprisingly for a game with very little audio potential, effective samples have been used throughout - the thwack of the club meeting the ball, a splosh when you land in water and the swish of branches when you hit a tree.

VERDICT: There's very little to find fault with in Microprose Golf - so here's the very little. First, six courses seems like plenty to begin with but you soon need more. Further data disks are doubtless planned, possibly with some simulations of real courses. Second, £35 is a lot of money for a game. Unfortunately it seems increasingly to be the case that you have to pay "pre- mium'' prices for good games.

• Once you have played a round with a character you get the chance to save his profile to disk. This character is then updated every time you play, to take account of the changes to your handicap and stats. You can see these numbers in bar chart form where you can examine them right down to the stats for individual holes.

• Before each shot you see an over- head view of the course. with such details as the projected flight of the ball to aid your club selection. You can also adjust tee height, stance or rotate the course for a better view (on the right).

These reservations aside, Golf is a real gem. It easily takes the award for best golf sim for the ST - there's just nothing to touch it for detail, ease of use and impressive graphics. Most of all, it's fun - a feature which could easily have been lost amid the wealth of detail.

If you have even a slight passing interest in golf get this and you'll be addicted for weeks. All told, it's better than the real thing - you don't have to leave your chair for this. (There! Not a golfing pun in sight.)



• Some courses have a considerable amount of the golfer's nightmare, water. If the ball lands in water and it hasn't yet touched land then you have to take the shot again; otherwise itís placed as close as possible on land to the spot where it went down.

• Less disastrous than water is sand - at least you can still take a shot from here. You do find the hook and slice are drastically changed, though and you maybe in for a surprise if you take a shot as normal without studying the power meter. Note the small cloud of sand as the ball hits.
Microprose 34.99
  • Nothing touches this on the ST - it makes Challenge Golf (page 85) et al look decidedly sickly
  • Excellent graphics mean it's good to look at as well as play
  • The details really make it shine - how many other golf sims allow you to alter the tee height?
  • Pricey, but guarenteed to keep you playing for a long, long time


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Page last updated: 31 July 2011
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