Getting better with age...
Yep, I'm talking about Jack Nicklaus - undisputedly one of the greatest and most prolific golfers ever. Forget Tiger Woods, he's small stuff compared to the grand master of them all. Jack's back in the form of Jack Nicklaus 5 - the latest in the series from Accolade. And boy, does it have some great enhancements. Players are polygonal, there is an incredible course designer, and you can play multiplayer. Now only if you didn't have to be as good as the Golden Bear himself to be able to play the damn thing.
This game is hard. You really have to practice, know which clubs to use, know how much to compensate your drives for the wind, and know how to putt. If you're like me, and you just play golf a couple of times a year with borrowed clubs - you'll probably have a hard time playing this game. On Par 5 holes a common score for myself was eight or nine. It's as hard as real golf - which is something a lot of people aren't looking for in a golf game. Hot Shots Golf for the Playstation is the exact opposite; it has much less realism, but is much more fun - too much realism can be overkill. And unfortunately, there is just too much realism in this game.
Fortunately, the graphics are second to none. The polygonal characters use motion capture technology and look absolutely gorgeous - besides having huge polygon counts, the animation is extremely smooth. The courses are also rendered superbly. Unfortunately, since it is rendered at such high resolutions (whatever your windows resolution is, up to 1600x1200!), it is unable to render quickly - but this isn't Quake and it doesn't affect gameplay at all. Many of the ten courses included in the game look exactly like they do in real life - just as if they were exactly how Jack Nicklaus had originally envisioned them.
One of the other big improvements in the game is the multiplayer aspect. Supporting both LAN and modem, you can play loads of golf with your friends. A feature that I was looking forward to that wasn't completed yet was the Internet play - ingeniously (sarcasm reeks rampant) called NetAccolade. The game claims you can play it out of the box, but I went to the Accolade website and the add-on is still not done. Frustrating, to say the least.
The rest of the game includes the basic golf game amenities - a commentator (Gary McCord), fairly decent sound, a putting system that is pretty much the same as all the other games on the market, and a plethora of courses to test your skills on. What sets this game apart is its license and the course designer. The fact that Jack Nicklaus himself designed more than half of the courses included in the game lets you know that you're definitely going to be playing some quality golf. And the course designer will let you create any kind of hole you want - to play your friends on or to just play by yourself. Its simple interface and ability to create complex courses is unparalleled in golf games for the PC. If you want a lot of depth in your golf game, Jack Nicklaus 5 is a sure bet.
Jack Nicklaus 5 is the most well-rounded golf game available - graphics, depth, and game play are all good or decent. The biggest problem is in the difficulty level. The game is simply too hard for people other than golf pros. Jack Nicklaus 5 is more of a simulation of the game of golf than any other golf game currently available. Who knows, maybe your swing will improve! Fore!