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Published by:
Sierra Sports

Game Genre:
Sports Simulation

Game Cheats:
Not Available

Requirements:
Pentium 166, 32 Megs RAM, 150 Mega HD, 4x CD-ROM, Mouse

Retail Price:
Not Available
Our Ratings:
Features

Graphics

Sound FX

Gameplay

Overall

Screenshots:
PGA Championship Golf 2000


Game Review - by James Allen
Golf has always been a sport for the PC, from the Links series and the (now) Tiger Woods EA series to the Jack Nicklaus series. Each have strived to make the player feel as though they are actually playing 18 at some of the world's best courses. PGA Championship Golf 2000, despite being almost an unknown, compared to the Tiger Woods tie-in for EA's venture, is, to date, the best golf simulation available for the PC.

Features:
PGA Championship Golf 2000 delivers in the features department. Although it may not have the range of real PGA courses and players as some other titles on the et, just having a total PGA endorsement does not make a golf game worth playing. The best feature is the 700 MB full download! Oh yeah! Anyway, to start with, you can choose between a practice round, a single round, 72 holes, or a full-fledged season of play. Practice round is great, since you can access the driving range, putting green, or any of the 18 holes of any course. Is number 13 giving you problems? Head on over to the tee box and perfect your game. If you think you can take on the big boys for one whole season, you can set up a customized season. Each season can be any length, and one event can involve more than one golf course (like the Pebble Beach Pro-Am), so the possibilities are endless.

There are 13 courses included in PGA Championship Golf 2000, 8 of which actually exist, and the remainder were designed by fans of PGA 99. Each of the courses included offer a different challenge, ranging from coastal mountains, tidal flats, and rolling hills. To vary the games up even more, the course conditions can also be set. The state of the rough (short, average, long), greens (wet, moist, normal, dry, very dry), wind (still, calm, breezy, gusty, strong) can all be varied, and also randomized for each round, a feature I really like. Holes play completely different when the conditions vary, which adds to the overall lasting value of each course.

Individual options for each round can be set. Rules, such as mulligans and gimmies, can be set to various distances to provide a sort of learning curve for the beginner. Selecting the game to be a tournament will result in crowds following you around. These galleries are smart: if you are not contending for the lead, the gang following your group will shrink: the final insult. Side games can also be set between the golfers, rewarding golfers for skins, lowest putt total, aces, greenies, birdies, up and downs, flaggies, sandies, moles, polies, splashies, dirty pars, longest drives, and chip ins. What is a mole, you say? Why, it's leaving the ball in a bunker, of course! Basically, any possible shot or combination of shots can be covered in a side game. Also, handicaps can be used, which are kept for each golfer over all the games they play (including user golfers), to even the playing field.

Now if there's one thing that we need, it's 12 different types of play. PGA Championship Golf 2000 has got you covered. Medal, or tournament, play, match play, stableford (that weird point system), four ball medal, four ball match, four ball stableford, skins, scramble (with 2 or 4 player teams), best ball ryder cup, best ball greensome, and best ball bloodsome are all included. Without even knowing what any of these really mean, it's evident that you can play almost any type of golf game you can think of.

You can customize your golfer completely, picking your appearance, including your clothing. Even better, you can change your clothes each round (imagine that!), and the computer picks some UGLY (and really funny) outfits. There is no more guessing as to why golfers are never picked for wardrobe advice. In addition, you can play against PGA pros such as Gary Dain and Oliver Bowen. Who? Exactly, PGA Championship 2000 does not include real PGA players, but never fear. You can create your own computer players, and users have made lists of real PGA players, if you really, really want to play with Steve Stricker (c'mon, you know you do). For the novice, an amateur list is included as well, with lowered ability levels to accommodate learning players. In addition, a ladies tour is available.

Also included in PGA Championship Golf 2000 is remote play through everyone's favorite online gaming service, WON. Also, you can play though a LAN or modem, but unfortunately, no direct TCP/IP play is possible. I've tried to play with WON online, and apparently you can do it, although my modem connection doesn't like me any.

As if all this weren't enough, you can create your own courses! That's right, a course architect is included, to produce the course of your dreams, and the PGA Tour's nightmares. Like most course editors, it takes a while to get used to the things you can and can't do. The New Course Wizard should be avoided because of this reason: no two land types can cross over each other. This means water cannot cross over a fairway. Well, then, how do you do this, you say? You must split up the fairway into two parts, and run the stream in the middle, in a sort of backwards logic. The New Course Wizard should be improved for the beginner, to place not only holes and water, but hills and bunkers, too. One disappointing feature left off the course architect is "automatic terrain." One thing I really liked about SimGolf (remember that one?) was that you could generate the terrain as hilly or flat as you wanted, then put in your golf course. In PGA Championship Golf 2000, you must put all the elevation changes in manually. It's kind of fun seeing what kind of golf course you can make out of a certain terrain, and this is not possible in PGA Championship Golf 2000. Despite this, the course architect is very powerful, and only the reaches of your imagination confine the limits of your course.

Sound FX:
The sound, also, is very well implemented. The sounds of birds, lawn mowers, and airplanes are all included. A neat aspect is the crowd cheering on other holes during tournament play. It always makes your shot that much more uneasy when you hear the exploits of your competitors. When a ball makes impact with the ground, it sounds exactly like it should for a green, fairway, or cart path. The shots themselves are realistic too, no stupid BOOM sound when you hit a great golf shot (Triple Play comes to mind). The commentary is decent, although not spectacular. Some small changes could be made to raise the level of quality. Several times, the commentator will announce, "it's headed for the green!" in an excited voice on a par 3. Well, of COURSE it is, it's a par 3! Occasionally, the announcer will magically predict the ultimate place for the ball too far in advance, when the result is still in question. This only takes some away from the suspense, and the landing spot camera usually gives you a good indication anyway. Finally, since I "play" golf left-handed both in real-life and on the game, I get annoyed by the fact that a hook and a slice are called the incorrect, right-handed way for lefties. Small adjustments in the audio could make the commentary close to perfect.

Gameplay:
So, with all of these great features, is the gameplay worth anything? I mean, all you're doing is hitting a ball, how hard could that be to simulate? Surprisingly, nobody has really gotten it right up until PGA Championship Golf 2000. For all you clicksters out there, a tri-click method is included, but it's not needed, since the TrueSwing is so stellar. This may seem elementary, but how you move the mouse is how you swing the club. It seems so simple; it's a wonder why no one has gotten it right until now. I am so impressed on how accurate the TrueSwing is to real golf. Occasionally going off to the links to lose some golf balls, I am well aware how darn hard it is to make the ball do exactly what you want. This is reflected in the TrueSwing. Basically, you move the mouse back and forward, simulating a golf swing. If you think you can just swing as hard as you can and pummel the ball 300 yards, so better go use the tri-click. TrueSwing emphasizes rhythm more than sheer power, just like real golf. You must make your address, backswing, downswing, and follow though all flow to make a nice shot. In addition, you can draw, hook, fade, and slice the ball by moving the move back slightly to the correct direction during you backswing, returning it to center in the downswing, and in the opposite direction in the follow though. Oh yes, you better return that swing to where it started from. Unfortunately, especially for me, toe and heel shots are also included, and the results of these are sickeningly accurate to my golf game. As if this wasn't enough, you must play each shot with the correct speed. For instance, you cannot expect to swing a driver in the same manner as a 6 iron in the rough. This complexity replicates exactly what happens in real life. In short (too late), the TrueSwing is real golf.

Graphics:
The 3-D graphics in PGA Championship Golf 2000 are cool. A real feeling of depth of seen when you are on the course, and the graphics make you think you are playing golf, and not a golf game. Divots are seen on the fairways, bunkers, and tee boxes on par threes, and increase as the day progresses. If you're in one of the last groups, be prepared for a pot ed golf course.

The golfers themselves react to each shot, stabbing himself or herself though the heart when missing a short put, or falling over in comical fashion when getting off balance when attempting a shot. If you leave the game for a little bit to check e-mail or something, your golfer will lie down on the ground waiting for you, taking a rest. I found this much unexpected and hilarious the first time I left him (me) alone.

When the graphics are top notch, you tend to pick minor things to bring up, and I sure will: even in a stiff breeze, the lakes and trees never sway or ripple. The lakes are a solid reflective surface, and the trees are static objects. Even though the flag moves, swaying trees and uneven water would have added a touch more realism, and made this game even better.

The best thing about the graphics is the multiple camera angles available. Top, green, and reverse drives are available, just to name a few. You can also make custom cameras, and this is a neat feature. Want to see how the leader is doing? Open up a camera view and watch his every shot. Really. In addition, you can replay your shot from a bird's eye view, or any other custom camera view. A television broadcast is at your fingertips (let's go to number 17)!

Overall:
The bottom line: if you want to buy the best, most accurate golf simulation ever made for the PC, get PGA Championship Golf 2000. Now, if you will excuse me, I have to work on my slice.


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