Are those Bugle Boy jeans you're wearing?
To the French, it's "Bon pantalon." The Germans? "Nett hosen." And those feisty Hungarians? They say, "Kedves nadrí¡g." I hear you screaming, "But what about the Czechs, the Portuguese, the lovable Polish? What about them!?" To this I reply, "Hezky kalhoty," "Bonito calí§as," and a joyous "Ladny kalesony." In other words,
That's right, loyal reader! For the first time ever in a golf simulation, you can change your pants! O glorious day! It seemed like only yesterday when gamers could only modify shirts, hair color, and skin tone. We just had to accept the fact that those form fitting khaki slacks could not be removed. Well, Sierra has once again upped the ante with Front Page Sports Golf, their latest foray into the world of computer divot digging. With a smooth interface, an excellent swing mechanism, beautiful graphics and crisp sounds, Sierra has created a gem of a golf sim (pants included).
The current trend in computer golf is an emphasis on mouse initiated swing. While the tried and true method of the 'tri-click' - made famous by the legendary Links series - has its merits, gamers are looking for a more realistic feel. With mouse swings, the mouse becomes the club. Pull back to start the upswing, and push forward for the downswing. The more accurate you are (ie. staying on a straight line), the more successful the result. We saw a decent version of this in SimGolf. Not to be outshone, Sierra has developed their version of the mouse swing, dubbed the 'TrueSwing.'
The main difference between the TruSwing and other mouse initiated swings is that there is no visual representation of how you're swinging. In SimGolf, you were given a graph that drew a line to follow your stroke. If you hooked the ball, you could clearly see it as a skewed line. In FPS Golf, you just have to get the feel right. You can't really adjust until its too late, which allows for a much more realistic feel. Further, there is a larger margin of error. You can hit the ball pretty much anywhere based on how you swing, unlike in SimGolf, where there seemed to be a stern limit regarding actual ball meets club physics. You would swing the club gently and get the same result as swinging it harder. Again - no margin for error. This means less realism and more choppy graphics.
Speaking of which, the graphics in FPS Golf are great. The courses (two come with the game; you can purchase add-ons) are photo-realistic. With full panoramic view and excellent textures, this is a pretty game.
The coolest thing about the graphics has got to be the golfer himself. At long last, the world of polygons has entered the fray. The golfers move with fluidity. No more harsh, static backswings; they even react to shots with little characteristic effects, such as the patented hand to the forehead or the often encountered frustrated club toss...
And the pants. Ah, the pants. You can choose from a variety of trousers, ranging from the traditional (beige...ugh) to the casual (blue jeans) to the offensive (red plaid...nice.). You may be wondering why I'm so emphatic about the pants. Simply put, its the little things that count. Games that add subtle touches of realism (a.k.a. changing pants) are often well-thought out, and therefore more complete. The added freedom of pant swapping means little unto itself. But in the grander sense, it shows that time was taken with the game - it wasn't just thrown out unfinished into the public like too many titles (see The Crow).
FPS Golf contains all the standard elements of computer golf. You can change weather, course, and match conditions. You can compete in one of twelve types of games, ranging from basic Stroke play to the more dynamic Scramble. You can even compete in the Ryder Cup.
The game supports IPX and LAN networking. You can also play over the Internet by accessing SIGS (Sierra's Internet Gaming Site), free of charge. SIGS is simple to navigate and a good way of playing online.
I'll admit it - there are only a few things wrong with the game. For one, the loading time can be a bit excessive (I ran it on a P 120 w/16MB RAM), particularly when you're switching views or changing courses. The TrueSwing, while impressive, definitely takes some getting used to. It can get frustrating shanking a ball into the water six times in a row. However, this is quite close to reality. I, for one, suck at real golf, and it's nice to see that I still suck even on a computer (dammit). Thankfully, Sierra remembered to include the old 'tri-click' method as an alternate option.
A strong title in every sense, I highly recommend FPS Golf to golf fans. It's pretty much the best thing out there right now. An excellent waste of money. How about buying some new dungarees while you're at it?