Tiger Woods 99 PGA Tour Golf
EA arguably already have the best 3D engine (and the best golf game too) in the form of PGA Tour Pro, and they've made further refinements here. You won't see a smoother or faster 3D engine anywhere. EA reckon you can complete 18 holes in half an hour. It took me slightly longer, but the point is still well made. There's nothing worse than spending five seconds hitting a shot, and then having to wait ten times that for the screen to redraw. Here, progress is (almost) instantaneous except between holes, where there's an inevitable delay (short though it is). The graphics are near photo-realistic too, even without 3D acceleration.
EA are past masters at style, content and presentation, and they don't disappoint here, providing a multitude of options. Golf virgins are able to Cquick-play' using all the default options; simulation freaks will revel in the ability to tweak near-infinite aspects of the game, including difficulty, club selection, player statistics, weather and course conditions. The reckless will dive straight in to a full tournament against seven other PGA professionals, and will no doubt get slaughtered as a result. Two rather more sedate options are Match play, which pairs you off playing for points, or Skins, which has you competing for cash. There's also a four-ball option where two teams of two compete, and the whole package is neatly rounded off with Foursomes.
Into the game proper, and your first task is to choose one of the three exclusive PGA courses available (Pebble Beaches, Sawgrass or Summerlin) which are apparently authentically recreated. Then select which one of eight pros to Cbe', Tiger Woods included. Tiger pops up throughout the game anyway, occasionally chipping in (sorry) with useful tips, rewarding good shots and encouraging safe or aggressive play. All the players look wonderful, if a little detached from the scenery, and their movement has been captured superbly. Standing on the tee, the second thing you notice (after the graphics) is the Ctrajectory arc'. This gizmo is extendable and retractable by using the mouse, and indicates where your shot is likely to end up. As you tinker with the arc, the game automatically changes your club for you as the projected distance to be travelled alters. Using the handy on-screen map, you can line up your shot and get ready to thwack the ball. Here EA have utilised the standard three-click mouse control: tap once to activate the swing, again to set speed (and hence distance obtained), and a third time to make sure you don't bugger it all up with a hook or a slice. EA have added another control option, which proves to be both innovative and intuitive: you still use the mouse, but physically move it to increase the power applied to the shot. It's weird, but it works a treat.
Having hit the shot, the Cpicture in picture' camera kicks in and, regardless of which camera you've selected, you get a spectacular in-flight view of your ball as it careers toward the hole. You can either strap a camera to the ball or admire your shot as it speeds past the galleries or camera towers. Whichever method you favour, you notice that the ball mechanics are wonderfully recreated - it sounds like a ball when you hit it, and it acts like a ball in the air. On the greens, putting is assisted with the obligatory on-screen grid overlay, which shows the lie of the land and enables you to putt with ease.
The package is completed with multiplayer support (network, Internet and LAN), atmospheric ambient sound, and subtle but informative in-game commentary. You can also make use of the upgrade disc provided, which is compatible with previous PGA Pro games' courses and will breathe a new lease of life into them. Failing that, you can buy the usual plethora of upcoming course discs.
Where golf games go from here is anyone's guess, but for now at least this is the definitive golf simulation. It's as complete and comprehensive a package as you could ever wish for. Buy it, even if you've got the others.
Download Tiger Woods 99 PGA Tour Golf
Systems: Windows 9x, Windows 2000 Windows XP, Vista, Win 7, Win 8, Win 10.
Game features: Single game mode
2018-12-20 Tiger Woods 99 PGA Tour Golf game added.
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