PGA Tour Golf for Windows. (computer game) (Software Review) (Evaluation)
by Scott A. May
As if there weren't enough distractions from the daily grind. Electronic Arts fans the flames of procrastination with the best-selling PGA Tour Golf, newly revised for Windows. Productivity might never be the same.
The game opens into a window of fixed proportions, slightly smaller than a full screen. Allowed memory to spare, the program multitasks with ease. The game window's reduced size helps deliver the program's seven-second screen update, the fastest of any 256-color golf simulation.
Visit the Pro Shop to enlist golfers from the user-defined member list. Each player can choose his or her favorite club configuration and animated onscreen alter ego. You can practice technique on the driving range and putting green and then play through a single hole or an entire round.
Tournament play a lows up to four golfers--human or computer-controlled--to compete against a leader board modeled after 60 nationally ranked contenders. Finish in the top 48 to advance to the second round and in the top 32 for the third and fourth rounds. As a member of the PGA entourage, your vital statistics--performance, standings, and winnings--are continually tracked, updated, and saved to disk, Major changes in the leader board are reported with optional onscreen, TV-style coverage.
The basic package offers three of the Tournament Players Club's best links, designed from original course blueprints. Sawgrass (Ponte Vedra, Florida) is home to the Players Championship and PGA Tour headquarters. Veteran players coined the term target golf to describe the pinpoint accuracy needed to survive this exquisite array of narrow fairways, wide bunkers, and merciless water hazards. PGA West Stadium Course (La Quinta, California), current site of the Skins Game, features enough challenging terrain--valleys, mounds, potholes, water, and sand--to fill a dozen minor courses. The gently rolling hills of Avenel (Potomac, Maryland) play host to the Kemper Open, the country's longest-running corporate-sponsored sporting event. A fourth fantasy course, Sterling Shores, was designed especially for the program.
Also available, and highly recommended, is the supplement course disk, featuring three additional TPC locales: Southwind (Federal Express St. Jude Open), Eagle Trace (Honda Classic), and Scottsdale (Phoenix Open).
Artist and animator Cynthia Hamilton's outstanding blend of polygon and bitmapped graphics lends the game its distinct personality. While other products sacrifice speed and gameplay for increasingly garish photorealism, Hamilton's high-resolution images are functional to a fault--almost architectural in design. On the downside, the solid-fill fairways lack the depth and character of textured terrain.
The simulation plays as clean as it looks, accurately portraying the cumulative effects on your performance of wind, ball lie, and swing. Several shot styles are available to rescue you from horrible lies: chip shots, punches, and blasts. Each club's distance potential can also be adjusted to fine-tune your swing.
The game's few shortcomings have no impact on gameplay, such as the inability to print golfer's stats or tournament outcomes. Another disappointment is the absence of the original's fly-by hole preview, replaced by the slow, virtually useless Hole Browser. There's also no course designer, although most users will hardly notice.
Electronic Arts picked a winner for its first foray into Windows entertainment. Let's hope it isn't the last. IBM PC or compatible (286 compatible); 2MB RAM for 16-color VGA, 4MB RAM for 256-color VGA; hard drive; Windows 3.0 or higher in Standard or Enhanced mode; supports Sound Blaster, Sound Blaster Pro, Ad Lib, Roland MT-32, Pro AudioSpectrum, and compatible sound boards--$59.95 ELECTRONIC ARTS 1450 Fashion Is and Blvd. San Mateo, CA 94404 (415) 571-7171 Circle Reader Service Number 360