Sometimes, complicated golf sims can be nothing short of a pain for casual fans of the sport. So if you’re searching for a good looking golf game with some pretty courses that isn’t a hassle to learn, then Links 2004 is the golf game for you. Be warned, however; good it may be, but it’s not the best golf game on the market.
During it’s short gaming ‘career’ Microsoft have been having some troubles with the sports genre, mainly because all of their sports titles are largely overshadowed by EA and SEGA. Golf may be no exception, but Microsoft finally have a sports game they can be proud of. As is to be expected, Microsoft have taken great care when it comes to Links 2004’s precious exterior. There are attractive, detailed courses with quality renditions of each player, including Anika Sorenstam, Sergio Garcia and Mike Weir–each competitor is very recognizable. However, Links 2004 is lucky in that it has such graphic qualities to show off, because there are a few problems with the game as a whole.
One of the most glaring problems, or pet peeves rather, is the commentary. It’s nothing more than dry, bland and charmless, especially the color commentary. With witty conversations such as “How’s this lie look?”, “The lie looks good.” every single time. Luckily, the commentary is sparse so you won’t be biting your bottom lip in frustration numerous amounts of times.
But perhaps sound isn’t the most important element when it comes to a game of golf. As long as the ball effects are satisfying as it drops into the hole or launches from the club then there really isn’t a problem, right? So how does the game actually play? Well, it plays almost like an arcade golf game. The swing of the club is easy. Pulling back on the left analog stick and then pushing it upward in a fluent motion will send the ball flying. The power of the shot, of course, depends on where you stop your back swing. This is determined by a meter–what else? You’re able to adjust the difficulty, and whether or not there will be a yellow guide line on the meter that acts as a recommendation for power.
Other such things are adjustable as well, like the weather and the positioning of the hole on the greens. The easier the pin position is, the more common it’ll be for you to find the hole on flat green instead of a hump or a slant. Even though Links 2004 acts as an arcade style of golf game, its strategy is still involved. You’ll have to compensate during your swing for wind speed and direction. You’ll also have to compensate for how good your golfer is in certain categories, such as power, putting, control, and recovery. After you get through the very short learning curve, you’ll begin to simply enjoy the game for what it is. Which, of course, is nothing spectacular, but a solid, all round, game of golf.
Links 2004 is playable online via Xbox Live and System Link, which makes for a bonus if you’re addicted to online play. Links looks smooth, but plays as though it’s dumbed down–and that’s the bottom line really. If you’re looking for a solid pick-up-and-play golf game that isn’t over the top like Outlaw Golf, then Links 2004 is probably the game for you. However, if you’re more interested in an accurate golf simulation with better, more varied options then Links probably isn’t your best buy.
A simple review, simply stated…but then it’s a simple game.