PGA European Tour Golf logo

Golf, it must be said, is a thoroughly frustrating game. Your feet achehorribly after about five holes, and the hooks, the slices, the hacks, the tops and the missed putts ensure days of plus four-bedecked frustration. In fact, the golfer's favourite sight is the nineteenth hole where one can relax with a forthing flagan and the odd frame of snooker. Computer golf is much the same except your feet won't smart, and you can't relax in the pavilion afterwards.

It's some three-and-a-half years since PGA Tour Golf first appeared and despite its years, it's still the finest golf game on the Amiga. Sure, many have improved on the somewhat sparse graphics, many offer more options and courses, but in terms of gameplay, PGA Tour is top of the leaderboard.

And so to its successor. Again, four courses, only this time spread between the fairways of England, France and Switzerland. The first thing you notice is the startling similarity between the two games.

Sure, the graphics have been tarted up (even the weather changes), but the gameplay remains faithful to the original. Yet, if we are to be scrupulously fair (we always are, of course) then the saying, 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it' applies here.

The only extras are the draw and the fade options which enable you to swing the ball around and a pointer system on the overall view of the hole which allows you to pinpoint the yardage anywhere on the fairway.

Par for the course
In visual terms (and this is the A1200 version), the golfer sprite is better animated and the courses in general, are much prettier but the sound is just a thwack, the odd bird tweet and an occasional 'ooh', from the gallery.

Some odd things abound, though. I'm on the edge of the 11th green, see, and I'm 17 yards from the hole, so why does the computer offer me the five iron which, in this case, you can knock it a maximum of 18 yards. I'm only 17 yards away, a pitching wedge will do just fine thanks! But selecting the pitching wedge only enables you to hit it 12 yards. I've never seen Seve with a five iron on the edge of the freen so why do I have to use one?

Gripes aside, PGA European Tour improves on the original - this is basically a port from the Mega Drive -a nd it's a heck of a game. But if you have the original, the extra courses disk may be a better buy.



Es grünt so grün...

PGA European Tour Golf logo Amiga Joker Hit

Was im letzten Heft nur CD-Amigos offenstand, wurde nun auf alle Commo-Fans ausgedehnt: Ab sofort läßt Ocean auch 500er und 1200er auf den fünf neuen Plätzen des alten Klasikers "PGA Tour Golf" zu!

Der 1991 unter der Fahne von Electronic Arts erschienene Vorgänger gehört immer noch zu den spielbarsten Golfsimulation der Digi-Sportszene und mußte daher konzeptionell schon für die CD-Version nicht groß umgemodelt werden. Somit können sich auch hier wieder bis zu vier Menschen auf den fünf frischen Grünflachen austoben, nachdem sie zuvor vielleicht noch ihre Drives und Putts trainiert haben.

Neben dem obligaten Vier-Runden-Turnier gegen 60 Computer-Profis waren und sind drei neue Spielmodi zu verzeichnen: Bei der "Skin Challenge" spielen zwei oder vier Spieler um Geld (für jedes gewonnene Loch), im "Match Play" duelliert man sich paarweise im K.o-System, und das "Cannon Shoot Out" läßt vier Kontrahenten aufeinanderprallen, wobei der jeweils schlechteste nach jedem Loch ausscheidet - bei einem Unentschieden wird der Ball irgendwo in der Pampa plaziert und muß mit einem Schlag möglichst nah an die Fahne geschaufelt werden.

Mit 14 der 16 insgesamt angebotenen Schläger spaziert man hier wie dort raus in die auch von oben betrachtbare Natur. Besonders bei der AGA-Version besteht sie aus kontrast- und schattierungsreichen Wiesenlandschaften, die mit detailliert gezeichneten Bäumen, Bunkern und Badeseen verziert sind.

In der Bildmitte befindet sich ein nett animierter Golfer, der entweder den selbstgew:ahlten Schläger oder den Vorschlag des Rechners umgeklammert; der Ball wird dann mittels Maus und einer dreifach anzuklickenden, ziemlich flotten Powersäule auf seine Flugbahn gebracht.

Wie gehabt schaltet das Bild dabei um, so daß man die realistisch animierte Kugel scheinbar direkt auf sich zuflitzen sieht. Wenn einem der Wind keine bösen Streiche gespielt hat und man schließlich ans Einputten geht, erleichtert eine mit dem bekannten Gitternetz versehene einblendbare "Nahaufnahme" des Greens das Erkennen der Bodenunebenheiten, während die Sache dank einer weiteren Powersäule ins Rollen kommt.

Kurzum, die AGA-Version ist mit der Fassung für das CD32 identisch, nur daß heir die toll gezeichneten Landschaften mit ziemlichen Nachladezeiten erkauft werden müssen.

Grafisch kommt die Standard-Variante da natürlich nicht ganz mit, doch ansonsten sind kaum Unterschiede festzustellen: Die Ohren werden hüben wie drüben mit einer fetzigen Titelmelodie verwöhnt, auf dem Parcours dagegen herrscht konzentrierte Stille - wenn man die wenigen, aber feinen Sound-FX mal außer acht läßt.

Aber die brillante Maussteuerung ist sowieso viel wichtiger, denn auf ihr Konto geht die phantastische Spielbarkeit der PGA European Tour. Und war das nicht von jeher das entscheidende Merkmal einer gelungenen Golfsimulation?



PGA European Tour Golf logo

This is how I would improve computer golf. The players would be Tony Curtis and Terry-Thomas. Tony Curtis would have to play fairly, but would be really good at the game, and Terry-Thomas would be terrible, but have an armoury of dirty tricks.

For example, his club would be electrically-powered, with the gizmo on the head that shot a hidden golf ball out at supersonic speed when he swung at the decoy ball on the tee. Or Eric Sykes would be waiting in the rough, and when Terry-Thomas made a bad shot, Eric Sykes would be waiting the rough, and when Terry-Thomas made a bad shot, Eric Sykes would burl another ball out on to the green.

Or even Terry-Thomas would have some sort of air gun concealed in his club, and when Tony Curtis was taking his shot Terry-Thomas would see him through a target, and would have to try to hit him with a tranquiliser dart to make him miss. It would be great.

In the meantime, here's PGA European Tour. It doesn't have Terry-Thomas in it, or even Tony Curtis or Eric Sykes. IT does have some 'real' players dispensing 'useful' 'advice' like,"'Don't ignore the bunkers," and "Aim for the green." It also has polite applause emanating from nowhere at all when you make a good shot, and deliberately unexcitable players, and it's the best golf game ever in the history of all things.

At least, that's what I've been told to say. Golf, it seems, of the computer kind at least, is extremely popular in these parts. Never having played a game before, and therefore obviously being very stupid, I was surrounded by golf fans throughout the reviewing experience. Which went exactly like this.

CLUB
Golf Fan 1 (Steve The Prod Ed): Look at that. It's got real players in it. You can play against real people.

Golf Fan 2 (Jonathan The Ed): That's good. Set upa tournament. We four against the best four computer players. In a Skins game. That's for money and everything.

Golf Fan 3 (Steve The Prod Ed's Friend Steve (From Next Door)): All right.

Me: I don't know what's going on.

Steve The Prod Ed: Let's play on the Wentworth course. No, the Arden one. No, the Crans-surSierre. No, Le Golf National. No, the Valdemarr.

Jonathan The Ed: I shall make an executive decision. Crans-sur Sierre.

Steve The Prod Ed's Friend Steve (From Next Door): All right.

Steve The Prod Ed: Oh dear. A choice of clubs. I hate having to choose clubs. It's so boring.

Jonathan The Ed: No, apparently the computer chooses the best club for each shot. You can override the decision if you want, but there's really no need..

Steve The Prod Ed's Friend Steve (From Next Door): Good.

Jonathan The Ed: Ah, now this is one of those 'press the mouse button to start the shot power up, then press the mouse button to determine the power of the shot, then press the mouse button to stop the ball as near to the line as possible to keep the shot on target' things, isn't it?

Steve The Prod Ed's Friend Steve (From Next Door): Yes.

Jonathan The Ed: And you can move the crosshair you're aiming at, and see a topographical map of the green, and switch to one of those lovely but mostly useless aerial shots of the course which zoom in and out. Fortunately, there's a sensible plan view that gives all the necessary information.

Steve The Prod Ed: This is all a bit weak, isn't it? The format for this type of review's so hackneyed you could pop a Cockney cabbie in it. I mean, come on, all this supposedly clever banter that's clearly made up by one person because everyone talks in exactly the same way, and in the middle of it huge clunky monologues about the game itself. Which would obviously do the job just as well presented as a paragraph in a straightforward review. It's ridiculous.

Jonathan The Ed: No, come on, play up and play the game. Look, it's his comedy line and everything.

Me: I don't know what's going on.

Jonathan The Ed: There you are.


Terry-Thomas would see him through a target

BATTER
Steve The Prod Ed: Bad luck. You failed to take account of the wind strength and direction. You see, by clicking here you can alter the draw and fade.

Jonathan The Ed: That's sort of like the spin on a ball in, say, pool or snooker, isn't it, Steve The Prod Ed's Friend Steve (From Next Door)?

Steve The Prod Ed's Friend Steve (From Next Door): Yes.

Steve The Prod Ed: Well, I must say this is all very pleasant. The game helpfully selects the best club, lines you up with the hole and gives you all the necessary information in a convenient box. The sound's attractively minimal - the 'swop' of hitting the ball, a few noises when you land in a bunker or go through the leaves of a tree - and it looks, well, functional. Pleasantly functional, though.

Jonathan The Ed: Yes. Relaxing. Just the one.

Steve The Prod Ed's Friend Steve (From Next Door)): Yes.

Me: This is really boring.

Steve The Prod Ed: No it isn't. It's relaxing. It's the sort of game you play to unwind. Despite the competition between players in trying to sink the ball in the lowest number of shots, there's no animosity on the loser's side.

Jonathan The Ed: It's a courtesy game.
(Pause.)

Jonathan The Ed: Well, go on.

Steve The Prod Ed's Friend Steve (From Next Door): What?

Jonathan The Ed: Do that comedy bit where you say a really long, paradoxically complicated piece, and then we can finish with the song, and he can write the concluding part normally.

Steve The Prod Ed's Friend Steve (From Next Door): No.

Steve The Prod Ed: We've missed our cue now.

HIT WITH A SHOVEL
It is very relaxing, is PGA European Tour. And friendly. And, oddly, compulsive. You do tend to find yourself following the flight of the ball and willing to stay on course or go a bit to the left or whatever. And the clever addition of a reverse angle view of the ball landing adds no end to the suspense.

But it's not exactly what you'd call an exciting game. (The nearest you get to that is the enjoyable tense shoot-out, where you're eliminated if you lose a hole.) Mostly it's just quiet, consistent fun - hunkering over the mouse as you try to compensate for the wind by lathering spin on the ball, or attempting that £12.000 putt by calculating the percentage of 21 feet you need to reach the hole.

Even when things get difficult (courses which are mostly water, for example, or littered with bunkers and trees filing the direct shot) and you slap the ball into the undergrowth, the irrepressibly helpful positioning saves the day.

Beyond whacking it in a straight line as hard as possible and then trusting the club and position you've been given, you're meant to 'read' the course and adapt your tactics accordingly (making a short shot, say, in order to get on a straight line with the hole, and then closely examining the green to judge the best approach). This is the agonisingly skillful realistically golfish bit, and consequently the part I found very boring. (Fortunate I could turn it all off then and just concentrate on thumping the ball around).

There's no doubt PGA European Tour is the best golf game you can get, and even for the casual player it's a fair bit of fun. In multi-player mode it logic-defyingly tends to suck up time in a near-Dynablaster fashion and the spectacle of people getting hurrahingly excited about winning pretend money is something to behold.

Yes, I like it. Nowhere near as much as clever golf fans, but in a more personal, greatly surprised sort of way. Surprise made all the greater as it's from the people who wrote Last Action Hero (We'd have got away with it if it hadn't been for you pesky kids. Etc. - The Dome.)

"


PGA European Tour Golf logo AGA

Price: £27.99 Publisher: Ocean 061 832 6633

Tweet, tweet... whack... crunch. Plop, plop... plop. Tweet, tweet. The ball lands in the rough again. Well, how else can you describe golf EA style? Jim COnway tries...

There's a lot of money in it you know, this golfing lark. Super stars like Jose Maria Olazabal (pronounced Hozay Maria Olaathabal) make millions by hitting a little white ball around a well-tended field with 18 holes in it and a handy clubhouse (read pub) close by. It had to be the canny Scots who invented it, how else could you make uncultivated land reap wads of cash?

Even though Golf has taken off all over the world, largely thanks to American money and television. The rest of Europe (Britain and Ireland apart) has been slow to adopt the sport en masse. However, in recent years the Volvo PGA Championship has become a popular and widely viewed sporting event and this is why EA, having had mega success with their uncomplicated and highly playable original PGA Tour game, have jumped on the Euro bandwagon.

And why not? Europe has some of the best courses in the world and PGA Euro Tour features five of these, from four different countries. Britain is favoured with two: Wentworth in Surrey and Forest Of Arden in Warwickshire. The rest of Europe is represented by Crans-Sur-Sierre in Switzerland, set against a backdrop of snowy alpine peaks, Le Golf National in France and finally Valderrama, in sunny Andalucia at the tip of southern Spain.

The options
PGA Euro Tour offers you the opportunity to pit your skills against up to four other players. These can be either human or computer controlled famous golfers, of which there are ten including such well known names as Colin Montgomery, Bernhard Langer (who I always used to think was a Formula 1 racing driver), Steve Ballestreros and Ronan Rafferty. The options allow you to play a practice round, a skins match, a tournament, or compete in a match play or shootout 'league' against all the other available players.

Having selected what you want to play and your opponents you choose a course and then, in no time at all, you're being introduced to the 18 holes by a smug TV presenter and, soon after, the first hole, presented in time honoured fashion by a golf celeb.

Ball control
Control is by mouse, and taking a shot is regulated by player stance, the direction you aim the ball in, what club you use and, of course, the power bar at the bottom of the screen.

You must have played a golf game before, so I don't need to explain the power bar except to say that this version is easy to follow. The other factors affecting your shot will be where the ball lies and wind speed/direction.

PGA Euro Tour doesn't just consist of sunny locations, so in keeping with reality the weather conditions are variable and can affect play. Normally everything is bright and cheery but when the TV presenter announces that Le Golf Nation, home of the Peugeot Open is overcast with blustery winds, you can guarantee dodgy ball flights.

As usual with EA sports titles, even those published by Ocean, there are a wealth of viewing, playing and statistic options. Under the drop down View menu the following options are available: Overhead view, Ball Lie, Green, Hole Browser, Instant Replay, Course and Fly By Hole Preview.

The Hole Browse option is especially impressive and allows you to go over the terrain as if you were in a helicopter, zooming in and out and adjusting the approach angle of the camera.
Under the Shot menu you can do a Chip Shot, Normal Shot, Punch Shot, Fringe Putt or, if things are not going well you have the option of picking up the ball, or completely copping out and taking a Mulligan.

A classic
PGA has always been my favourite golf game and although the original hasn't aged very well graphically, it's still a classic. Despite loads of new features this is essentially the same, though on the A1200 both graphics and sound are superb. Good or overcast weather is represented and animation is silky smooth.

PGA European Tour comes on two disks, and swopping isn't too bad, though a second disk drive is preferable (you should have one anyway). Overall, it's still a classic, but I do wish that someone would now come up with an original golf idea rather than a recycled one.



PGA European Tour Golf logo CD32

Ocean * 0161 832 6633 * £27.99

The finest golf game on the CD32 by a long drive with a three wood. By John Daley. At altitude.
No other golf game can match PGA's simplicity and sheer playability although graphically, one wonders quite why it appeared as AGA-only on floppy disk. But no matter, we quibble, for this is a sports game in which even non-believers will partake a round.

You can pick it up in minutes yet the more you play, the better it gets. You can play as a professional or input your Grandmother's name and up to four can play at once. What more could one ask?

Buy it. A moan, though. Surely they could've given us a couple of extra courses - there are five - with all that wonderful CD storage space.



PGA European Tour Golf logo CD32 Amiga Joker Hit

Neue Golfer machen sich derzeit rar am Amiga, um so schöner, daß nun ein verjüngter Alt-meister den Weg auf Diskette und CD gefunden hat: Ocean schickt den EA-Klassiker von anno 91 auf komplett überarbeitete Kurse!

In der neuen Version kann das Programm aber nicht nur mit zeitgemäßer Präsentation, sondern auch mit drei neuen Spielmodi und fünf bisher nicht gekannten Parcours aufwarten. Die bis zu vier Teilnehmer haben also nicht mehr bloß die Wahl zwischen einer Übungsrunde und dem Turnier gegen 60 Golf-profis in vier Durchgängen, denn im Gegensatz zum Vorgänger kann man nun z.B. auch am sogenannten "Cannon Shoot Out" teilnehmen.

Hier schwingen vier vom Rechner oder von Spielern gelenkte Cracks den Schläger über drei Löcher, wobei nach jedem Loch der jeweils schlechteste ausscheidet. Im Falle eines Patts gibt's ein Stechen, bei dem der Ball irgendwo in der Pampa plaziert wird und mit nur einem Schlag möglichst nahe an die Fahne gedroschen werden soll- alles in allem eine sehr spannende Veranstaltung.

Nicht minder neu sind das "Match Play", wo es einen Punkt pro gewonnenem Loch im K.o-System gibt, und die "Skin Challenge", wo zwei oder vier Spieler außer Konkurrenz um Kohle golfen.

Zunächst ist aber auch diesmal wieder ein wenig Training anzuraten, ums sich mit dem Feinheiten der genial durchdachten Steuerung vertraut zu machen. Wer mag, darf Drives und Putts sogar separat einstudieren, ehe er einen Parcours aussucht und sich im grafisch hübsch überarbeiteten Golfshop 14 von insgesamt 16 angebotenen Schlägern in den Rucksack packt.

Auch der (auf Wunsch zusätzlich aus der Vogelperspektive zu begutachtende) Busen der Natur selbst ist schöner geworden, findet man sein adrett gezeichnetes Sprite nach einem eindrucksvollen Kameraschwenk über das aktuelle Loch doch nun inmitten detailreich gestalteter Bäume, Tümpel und Sandbunker wieder. Insbesondere die sanften Farbverläufe garantieren dabei eine sehr realitätsnahe und vor allem plastische Optik.

Vor dem (Ab-) Schlag bietet der Caddy im Rechner seinem Herrn einen passenden Schläger an, der aber auch ausgewechselt werden kann - der Schuß wird dann mittels dreifachem Druck auf eine flott ablaufende Powersäule durchgeführt.

Entscheidende für einen akkuraten Ballflug ist dabei jedoch nicht nur das exakte Timing, denn auch der durch einen Drehpfeil symbolisierte Wind und die (via Pulldownmenü einblendbare) Lage der weißen Murmel wollen ins Kalkül gezogen sein.

Während das nett animierte Alter ego nun den Ball über das Grün drischt, blendet die Kamera so um, daß die Kugel auf den Spieler zufliegt. Sollte sie im Wasser landen, gibt's natürlich einen Strafschlag, während besonders gelungene Aktionen automatisch in einer Wiederholung zu bewundern sind.

Schließlich auf dem Grün angekommen, läßt sich eine mit allen Unebenheiten sowie einem Gitternetz versehene Nahaufnahme einblenden: das Einlochen erfolgt mittels einer neuen Powersäule sowie des in Fünf-Fuß-Schritten einstellbaren Putters.

Die im Vergleich zum Vorgänger wahrlich opulente Präsentation samt frischen Soundeffekten und einer schmissigen Titelmusik muß zwar mit häufigen, aber erträglichen Nachladepausen erkauft werden, doch bezahlt man diesen Preis gerne.

PGA European Tour vereint nämlich die Vorzüge eines Klassikers (also fesselndes Gameplay, astreine Spielbarkeit und problemloses Handling auch via Joypad) mit eine sehens- und hörsenswertes Aufmachung, die Genre-Konkurrenten "The Ryder Cup" oder "Nick Faldo" ziemlich blaß aussehen läßt - und das gilt mit nur wenigen Einschränkungen auch bei den zeitgleich erhältlichen Version für Standard- und AGA-Amigas. Mehr dazu im nächsten Joker-Sport-studio, bleiben Sie dran! (md)



PGA European Tour Golf logo CD32

Ocean/£28
AP43 84%

There are no differences between this and the AGA version we reviewed back in issue 43, right down to the price. So basically, it's the best golf game on the CD32 (although you might want to keep an eye open for Nick Faldo - see True Stories this issue), with attractive, rapidly-updating graphics, an intuitive control system and plenty of golfing atmosphere, along with the curious appeal that golf computer games have even to those who normally despite golf. A truly fine game.



PGA European Tour Golf logo CD32

Price: £29.99 Publisher: Ocean 081 988 8888

PGA golf is, as far as I'm concerned, the best golf license there is. Others may have more detail, or more courses, or a top class course editor, but PGA clinches it in the playability stakes. It's easy to understand and a joy to play, and it's got that Electronic Arts sports game polish, which although annoying at times, undoubtedly adds a certain TV realism to the game.

PGA European Tour features five courses, one each in France, Span and Switzerland and two form the UK. There are a wealth of viewing options and an impressive hole browsing facility that gives you complete control over the camera as you fly over each individual hole.

But the real selling point of this version is its new high resolution pseudo-texture mapped graphics. Gone are the days of 32 colour Amiga 500 backgrounds and players; welcome to CD32 AGA heaven.

This, combined with an updated but still smooth control system, variable weather conditions and, quite frankly, some damn good courses, makes PGA Euro Tour the best golf game available on CD32 (though I will admit there's not much choice).

The only game which could possible change my mind will be the next version of Nick Faldo's Golf. It's coming soon with over 200Mb of sampled speech and similarly updated graphics and animation. We'll see...