A golfing legend, winner of more major championships than anyone else, much demanded course designer and all-American hero: the Golden bear. A golf game cannot come with a much better endorsement than jack, but does it live up to his reputation?
Three courses are available: Castle Pines in Colorado, Desert Mountain in Arizona and Jack's Greatest 18. The Greatest 18 are culled from some of the most famous courses in the world, such as St Andrews, Augusta, Pebble Beach and Royal Lytham.
One to four players can take part, any or all of whom can be computer controlled. There is a choice of several opponents of varying ability, including Jack himself, who is of course incredibly good. There is also a choice of game type: 'stroke play' or 'skins'. In skins the players play for prize money on each hole, the prizes increasing as they go along. Stroke play is the usual score-per-stroke, with the overall score plus or minus par kind of system.
Before playing each hole you are given an overhead view of it, which can be called up again while playing. You also get Jack's words of wisdom on the hole, then it is off to the tee, where the view is from behind the player, looking towards the green and the pin.
The club is selected from a driver, two woods, eight irons, two wedges and a putter. Once the club is chosen and the shot aimed, the tricky part of swinging the club has to be done. This is a matter of timing mouse clicks to initiate the swing, to stop the power bar going upwards and then to stop it going down (for the accuracy). Mistiming clicks will result on the upswing in shots going long or short and on the downswing in the ball hooking or slicing.
The computer players do everything automatically: and slowly too. A lot can be learnt from watching them, particularly if you have a similar shot to play. There are various factors affecting a shot - windspeed and direction, sand, slopes and rough. On the putting surface there are only breaks to cope with, but the aiming of putts is very tricky.
If you are not happy with your performance you can always go off to the driving range and the practice green, or even practice on a few individual holes.
GRAPHICS AND SOUND
The courses are picturesque, with trees, bunkers and lakes making up some lovely views. The only problem is the terribly slow speed at which the graphics are drawn. The view is redrawn for every shot so there is a lot of hanging about waiting for it.
The sound is limited but what is there is good: some excellent sampled speech at the beginning and realistic hitting and bouncing noises during play.
The slow speed of play is annoying but not terminally so: just chill out, relax and take your time playing. The three courses are challenging and dangerous and the opponents provide good competition. It is a game you will be playing for years to come: s long as the old back injury does not flare up again...