Nick Faldo's Championship Golf (Second Review)


Title           Nick Faldo's Championship Golf (Second Review)
Publisher       Grandslam (1992)
Game Type       Sport
Players         1-4
HD Installable  No
Compatibility   AGA; not 040/060; not ESCOM Amigas (DF0: problem)
Submission      Dennis Smith Profiled Reviewer

Review
On the face of it, Nick Faldo's is a polished product. It has swish graphics,
a well animated golfer, numerous features, an innovative control method and a
cheat-mode 9-hole course on Mars. What more could you ask for? Well, I've
just loaded it up and played half a round to remind myself. Now I've put it
back in its box and I may never get it out again. So what went wrong?

It's too hard, that's what. Uncompromisingly so - if you make a tiny
mistake, you're well and truly punished for it. I'm a real pro at
contemporary games like PGA Tour and Microprose Golf, but in my quick
knockabout with this game, I was about 30 over par after 9 holes. Sure,
I've not played it in a while; with practice I will undoubtedly get better.
But I don't want any more practice and with plenty of other golf games
to choose from, I won't be looking back. And to try to keep my pride
intact, I'm going to explain why I think it's the game's fault, and not mine.
And it's not just that it's the only golf game I have that can't be
installed to the hard drive...

At first glance it's a standard first-person golf game. But it tries to do
things differently and that may be its main mistake. The problems seem to
arise from that innovative control method. Most games go by the three
click method: start your shot, then click at the right time to select
power, then a third time to determine accuracy. In Nick Faldo's
Championship Golf, the programmers have sought something original, and
well, they obviously tried too hard.  Power selection is by means of a
simple bar that is selected before the shot is played. Curiously, with the
higher clubs (woods and low-numbered irons) you can only play high-power
shots. When you play the shot, a meter rises, much like any other golf
game, but here you have to double-click within a certain zone. The more
powerful the club, the smaller this zone is. This seems clever until you
have to do it over and over. To realistically, consistently double-click
in the zone for the driver, you must hold the mouse with one hand and poise
the clicking finger of your other hand over the button, jabbing down in
rapid succession at the right time. This is not a comfortable control
method and I quickly tire of it. There is another small zone for wrist
snap which you can try for to increase the power of your shot - this only
takes one click, thankfully.

Furthermore, though the power bar is graded in percentage, it's not at all
clear what it's a percentage of. It certainly isn't a percentage of the
distance that the ball will be hit, which makes accurate play even harder.
And then there are the greens: a grid is laid out to show you the
undulations of each green but the grid lines are so far apart - about 5
yards apart! - that they might as well not be present at all.

Then there's the unforgiving rough. Once you're in the rough, you're in
trouble. Maybe this reflects the real game of golf - that it takes a real
pro to play a good shot from bad lie. But I don't want my computer games to
frustrate me this much. There doesn't seem to be much indication before you
take the shot as to whether it will sail through the air or bounce a few
yards across the ground. It seems that the left-right angle that you're
aiming at can make a difference, which is unforgivable if you ask me. Golf
games use the ability to aim left or right without moving the golfer as
a shorthand because you don't want to redraw the whole screen every time
you shift your aim by a degree or two. Nick Faldo's Golf is not so
accommodating.

There's a coaching mode, which is a nice idea, but though it gives a little
something extra to the game, it is crippled by a couple of nasty shots
you're invited to play that seem to require pixel-perfect precision - with
no way to skip them. And for all it's worth, there's no championship,
despite the inclusion of the word in the title. Yes, you can play both
strokeplay and matchplay, but that's about it - choose some friends or
increasingly fiendish computer opponents to play against and see who wins.

All in all this is a stylish game that is badly let down by its weak
playability.

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