Download Microsoft Golf 1999 Edition (Windows)

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Microsoft Golf 1999 Edition

Windows - 1998

Year 1998
Platform Windows
Released in France, United States
Genre Sports
Theme Golf
Publisher Microsoft Corporation
Developer Friendly Software Corporation
Perspective Behind view
5 / 5 - 3 votes

Description of Microsoft Golf 1999 Edition

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The two responses

"Wow!" and "Why?" Some days those seem to be the only two responses to PC games. Thankfully, the former is heard more and more lately. This Christmas may be shaping up as the best ever regarding computer gaming, with titles like Half-LifeThief: The Dark Project, and FIFA 99 giving us plenty of reason to deck the halls. Unfortunately, we're still getting saddled with a fair bit of the latter too. Excuse me for being a bit of a grinch, but after slogging through a few days with Microsoft Golf 1999 Edition, I'm entitled.

This game deserves a great big "Why?" as much as any in recent memory. Where EA Sports generally throws us a new bone or two in each 'update' they crank out each year, Microsoft and Friendly Software have done little more than replace "1998" with "1999" here. I just reviewed the 1998 version of this series a few months back, and the changes are virtually non-existent. Well, at least you've got to congratulate Microsoft for coming up with a digital version of the Pepsi Challenge.

Tomato, tomato

Installation is identical to the previous game. The options are just about the same, ranging from a minimum 50mb all the way up to 646mb if you want to throw everything onto your hard drive. You can also customize your settings, a nice touch that a lot of designers have seem to forgotten about lately. I made do with the typical 181mb install and had no complaints. Load times are minimal. Menu screens are updated from before with some classy green and white visuals. Everything is still nicely understated.

Shots can be made using four different methods. Two-click and three-click are self-explanatory, while the Natural Swing is Microsoft's contribution to the 'cool but I'll never use it' world of the mouse-swing. Once again, it's just too frustrating to bother with. Here you pull back, then push forward to swing, but it's very difficult to get proper distance, let alone shoot in a straight line. The other option is the Sim Swing, where the computer actually takes the shot after you set it up. Is there anyone out there lame enough to use this? I stuck with the two- and three-click methods, but there's a major problem here as well. Since the swing meter takes up so much space in the center of the screen, it's easy to accidentally click on it when you're trying to adjust the aiming pole. This is particularly annoying when putting. And even when you get used to this, it's still irritating since you're forced to click up high on the pole, pushing it back further than you'd usually desire.

There are five skill options available -- Beginner, Amateur, Local Pro, Touring Pro, and Champion. You can also adjust course conditions such as wind and green speed to make things more difficult if desired. Stroke, match, skins, scramble, and bingo-bango-bongo are the games available, a huge disappointment compared to the MOPs in Links LS 1999. Good mulitplayer support is available courtesy of Microsoft's Gaming Zone. There are ten new player models with which to construct your golfing avatar. Options come down to old guy, young guy, or woman, though, with the one additional choice being the color of your shirt. It's a shame that nobody's picked up on what Actua Golf 2 offered -- a full 3D golfer you could dress up in some of the ugliest, loudest outfits outside of Herb Tarlek's closet.

Six courses are provided, but only three are new. Eagle Harbor, Medalist, and Donald Ross Memorial have been added to Links at Casa de Campo, Teeth of the Dog at Casa de Campo, Bay Harbor Golf Club, and the nine-hole Bay Harbor Preserve. There's not a whole lot of variety here. Medalist has some nice challenges thanks to the sand, and Eagle Harbor's hilly woods is not without some charm, but I still grew bored with my options fast.

Graphically, Golf 1999 Edition is identical to Golf 1998 Edition. No 3D support. Water holes that look like the La Brea Tar Pits. Hell, the flags still don't move. At the same time, however, things are a little sharper than in Links LS 1999. The golfer animations lack the jaggies that are always present in Access' latest. Course views are significantly clearer where long distances are concerned. Where I always felt that I needed the overhead views to decide what I should do there, here it was just a nice frill.

Sound is excellent. Chirping crickets and tweeting birds fade in and out in realistic fashion and at perfect volume. It's not quite as good as what you'll find in Tiger Woods 99, but it's close. The musical score is unsurpassed in the golf genre. It's a nice, light tune that perfectly complements the game. I actually found myself wishing that I could turn the music on while I played.

Portrait of Dorian Gates, anyone?

Gameplay is a near mirror-image of the 1998 version. Don't expect too much of a challenge here. I shot a reasonable 76 (four over par) on my very first round at Medalist, which is probably the most difficult course of the four included. I then went on to a 72 (two under, if I remember correctly) at Eagle Harbor. This was using the Touring Pro difficulty setting, which I moved up to after an initial nine at Teeth of the Dog on Amateur. I didn't notice too much variation between any of the difficulty levels. Amateur is easier, but the game is extremely forgiving no matter what. Even the most horrendous mis-clicks are easy to recover from, mostly because the sand traps and rough play much like the fairways. Aside from the obvious graphical clues (although there is no dust cloud when you shoot out of sand), it's all pretty much the same.

That said, I did notice a significant difference in the putting game. Where the 1998 edition tended to hand out the breaks quicker than McDonald's, the new one is a lot more persnickety. Instead of the ball catching the lip and dropping, as it would before, it will more often curve out or skip on by now. Greens also seem to be more lifelike. Slopes used to be very hard to find; now they're an integral feature on every hole. My one problem with these new greens is the enhanced difficulty. Even the slightest break cuts about four feet from ten out, so you really have to compensate. Once you get used to this, it isn't a big deal, but it never seems realistic; the physics are just slightly off. A couple of weeks spent with Links LS 1999 made putting seem very artificial here.

That "Why?" really comes into play when you compare Golf 1999 Edition with the competition. I couldn't understand why Microsoft bothered with the 1998 game, let alone a sequel that adds nothing but another "9" to to the box cover and menu screens. I've played all of the golf titles currently on the market, and this one ranks at the bottom of my personal preference list. Links LS 1999 retains the crown for golf die-hards. Tiger Woods 99 is a worthy contender, and perhaps the king for those who want a slightly lesser challenge. Jack Nicklaus 5 might be a little dated, but it's still the only one out there with that great course designer. FOX Sports Golf 98 / Actua Golf 2 offer good 3D support and fun arcade play. There simply isn't a niche out there for Microsoft to fill. Unless the powers-that-be are thinking of some dramatic revisions for 2000 (which I guess will show up in about four months by the way this series tells time), this should be the end of the line.

Advice

If you've already purchased Microsoft Golf 1998, avoid this game at all costs. If you've already purchased any other golf game for the PC, avoid this game at all costs. If The Golf Channel is part of your cable package, avoid this game at all costs. If you get a thrill out of fondling your clubs in the basement during these long winter months, avoid this game at all costs.

'Nuff said? Despite providing reasonable gameplay at times, Microsoft Golf 1999 Edition is a loser in every sense of the word. Aside from the unavoidable fact that this is a carbon copy of a game released just six months ago, the competitors provide a better golfing experience every step of the way. If you get this game as a stocking stuffer this year, don't even bother opening it. You'll be better off when you go to exchange it, and, really, you've played this one before.

Review By GamesDomain

Captures and Snapshots

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