Links 2001

I realize that this review probably won't appeal to many people who visit this blog. For some reason, most folks who are into horror films and heavy metal don't give two pieces of goddamn about sports. I think it's because we all resented jocks and cheerleaders in high school. I was never one to associate myself with a certain clique, so I gave myself permission to enjoy sports of all kinds. Football, baseball, basketball, bowling, golf...I dig all of it except for tennis and ice hockey. Oh, and soccer. Soccer is fucking boring.

When it comes to PC games, golfers have plenty to choose from. EA's Tiger Woods series is standard fare, but if you're new to golf games, it's a good place to start. Microsoft has a few enjoyable titles, but they're derivative of the Links games. Oh, the Links games. If you want a realistic, challenging golf game, you can't do much better than Links 2001. Considering its age, the graphics are outstanding. The fall foliage is splashy and bronzed; the spectators actually look like people; the water hazards glint with luster; and the swing animation is fluid.

The course selection is rather impressive. You start with six, but you can buy a bonus disc with 14 add-on courses. Concerning the controls, there are three different swing modes. Anyone can sit down and play the game without having to know much about golf (or even video games, for that matter). That doesn't mean the game is too easy. The level of difficulty can be adjusted in several ways. You can play a one-off round of golf or join a tournament. Of course, you get match play and stroke play among over 30 (!) other modes of play.

I've been playing Links 2001 for over 6 months, and I'm not even close to being bored with it. I recommend hunting down the bonus courses to keep things fresh. The only drawback is the exclusion of a PGA Tour roster to use during tournaments. The only "real" players are Arnold Palmer and...Fuzzy Zoeller? Huh? Why Zoeller and not someone that uninitiated consumers might be familiar with? My guess is that it would be a legal pain in the ass to get every PGA golfer to sign off on all of the necessary paperwork. I could be mistaken, but it's not like the NFL where every team can be used with one contract. Bummer.

You should be forewarned that Links 2001 is more addictive than heroine. It will drain you. Luckily, I don't have a social life to worry about. On a sidenote, check out NES Open Tournament Golf featuring Mario and Luigi. It's one of the best sports titles on the NES right alongside Tecmo Bowl and Double Dribble.

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