Ryder Cup logo AGA Amiga Computing Bronze Award

If you can bear to re-live Bernhard Langer's infamous fluffed putt, or think you can do better, Ocean's latest sports game is a good way to raise that blood pressure, as Stevie Kennedy discovered.

INTRODUCTION

The Ryder Cup competition, played between Europe and the USA, is one of the few golf tournaments to interest many non-golfers, as our boys do battle with the Yanks for one of the most prestigious trophies the sport can offer.

True to the original, Ocean's game puts the player in charge of the 12 best professionals from either side of the Atlantic, playing over a grueling three-day schedule in which five rounds of golf and the elusive 14.5 points winning total will stretch most people's nerves to the knuckle-biting stage.

Choosing to play either as USA or Europe, and in the shoes of up to four golfers at any one time, the player's skill with a driver and a spot of deft team selection could be the difference between finishing as the grinning Tony Jacklin, or the crushed and bitterly disappointed Bernard Gallagher.


 

FLASHBACK

Microprose Golf is the touchstone for simulation excellence, and Ocean's attempt comes nowhere near it. In the Microprose game, contoured fairways, realistic ball flight, challenging gameplay and an attention to realism in wind effects, lie of the ball and other areas more than make up for ordinary graphics and poor sound.

On the graphically-inclined games, PGA Tour is probably the only real contender, and Ryder Cup Golf beats it hands down. We won't bother to include Links as it is so slow as to be unplayable, so Ocean have managed to place themselves somewhere in the middle.


 

ADDITIONAL INFO

The Ryder Cup was first officially placed in 1927 at Worcester, Massachusetts, when Ted Ray's British team went down 9.5 to 2.5 points at the hands of the great Walter Hagen. Twelve months earlier, the unofficial precursor to the cup competition had seen the British destroy the Americans at Wentworth.

Abe Mitchell, the captain of that first unofficial team, was shortly to be immortalised as the figure you can see on the top of the trophy, donated by British businessman Samuel Ryder, which the teams have competed for ever since.

Great Britain's first official Ryder Cup win came two years later at the Moortown course, and every two years since then, war permitting, the cup has provided one of golf's most enthralling competitions.

Despite a British win in 1957 and a draw in 1969, the Americans dominated the Ryder Cup until 1979, when the beleaguered British enlisted the help of the continent to form a European team for the first time.

Matches became closer and closer until, in 1985, Tony Jacklin's team finally won the cup back when Sam Torrance sunk his memorable putt and prompted a flood of joyful tears from all present.

The resent resurgence of European golfing strength, thanks to players such as Ian Woosnam, Nick Faldo, Seve Ballesteros and Berhand Langer, has made the Ryder Cup one of the most popular sporting events of all, and millions of viewers tune in every two years to watch what has become a string of incredibly close-Fought contests.


 

SIMULATION

Ryder Cup's most damaging weakness has to be the poor quality of the simulation itself. The flight of the ball is nothing like a real golf ball, and the avid real world golfer will be disappointed.
In addition, the hole previews do not offer a yardage gauge, making it almost impossible to decide whether to lay up before a stream or attempt to clear it with a good drive.

Ocean's wouldn't be spoiling the player by offering some sort of yardage indicator, as all pros these days have almost Ordinance Survey-like information supplied by their caddies who walk the course several times before his nibs steps out on the first tee.

Three different methods are available for actually taking a shot, ranging from the easy-peasy combined shot to the trickier hook/slice method. The latter is similar to the traditional power bar as used by most games, while the combined shot method uses a click selecter for power and a moving sniper's sight which you click to stop at the desired part of the ball.

This is fairly easy, so the player can elect to introduce wobble to make stopping the sight at the correct spot a lot harder. The third method is the chip/punch screen from which you select how much loft you require then choose from five types of chip and punch. Around the greens and when stuck under a tree, this method comes into its own.

On the whole, Ryder Cup Golf never really feels like Golf. The poor ball flight mechanics, a nagging suspicion that those fairways are actually completely flat, and the seeming lack of effect of the wind on the ball rob an otherwise neat play system of realism.

45%

 

SOUND

Reasonable but sparse more or less sums it up as far as sound goes. The sampled cheers from the crowd when a hole is won are suitably rewarding, but they begin very clumsily without any fade-in and end almost as abruptly.

The odd tweeting bird, splashes when your ball lands in water, and a great sample of the ball landing in the cup when a putt goes down are the only spot effects except for the awful white noise used to indicate that you've hit a tree.

55%

 

GRAPHICS

Ocean have made full use of the A1200's 256-colour mode to make Ryder Cup Golf easily the best looking golf game on the Amiga. The game's four courses (which include the Belfry and the Village, Ohio) are beautifully drawn, from the trees to the shaded fairways.

By stacking the various graphics in layers, a certain amount of parallax effect is achieved, and the most distant objects are faded into the sky to give the appearance of depth. Static screens are every bit as good, particularly those which are accessed during play, and the attention to detail is gratifyingly high.

There are a few bad points, though, and a few extra touches here and there wouldn't have been out of place. As in most golf games, for instance, the golfer sprite, his swing action, and the club he is apparently holding remain unchanged whether he's betting out a 300-yard drive or attempting a tricky wedge shot, and the shading could benefit from more attention.

Polygons aren't used on fairways or greens, so the shading is the player's only way of guessing the lie of the lad, and as this is often a little too subtle, it can be very difficult to judge which way the ball will bounce or roll. A grid can be superimposed on the greens, but iron shots are unaided by any such technique.

Overall, though, there can be a few gripes over graphics, which are definitely the game's strength.

80%

 

OPINION65%

Ocean have produced a golf game which refuses to be categorised in the normal way. In terms of simulation, the game is badly flawed, but the variety of shots on offer gives Ryder Cup Golf a flexibility in gameplay which many will find attractive.

Probably the game's best element is that it is a team event, and it is here that the drama of the Ryder Cup is at least partly reconstructed in pixel form.
Choosing from the last European or USA team (you can play on either side), the player has the job of selecting who plays who and in what order, making the role of captain one of the most important.

There's no point in putting your best players against the other side's weakest in the hope of quick points, because your own weakest players will take a real trouncing when their turn comes up, and as each player performs in a similar fashion to his real world counterpart, the golfing fans among us will have a much easier time of it.

As the three-day event unfolded, I found myself skipping from match to match in an attempt to bolster flagging rounds. Faldo and Woosnam can usually be left to their own devices, but some of the other players, if left under computer control, will be less predictable, and the game aids team play immensely by enabling the player to change the golfers he has under his control at the end of each hole.

This makes it possible to stay on your favourite hole and play each match as it comes through, and I managed to win four in a row doing just that. On the other hand, the warm glove at winning a hole can quickly dissipate when the score board comes up showing that the other matches are losing ground.

The extra challenge of team play in an intensive three-day tournament lifts what is otherwise a very average game with good graphics, and has the golfing simulation been better, Ryder Cup might have been a very good game indeed.



Ryder Cup logo AGA Amiga Format Gold

This is not just any old golf game, but is Ryder Cup AGA smooth enough to become the king of the greens? Is it powerful, sophisticated and good-looking enough to outshoot its fellow swingers? Find out here...

Do you ever switch on the telly late at night hoping for an educationally stimulating session with a foreign film, or some obscure video footage of James Brown, only to be met with the excruciating sight of a bunch of overdressed accountants batting a glorified gobstopper around vast tracts of private, green and verdant, land that could be better used as public parkage?

Do you choke on your kebab as Fred Couples or Fuzzy Zoeller scoop another $350,000 for hitting the gobstopper with an anorexic hockey stick or then? Do you find yourself, an hour later still watching it, and at every other shot saying: "Oh come on, I could do that! I'll suffer the shame of red and purple slacks, shoes that went out of fashion during Al Capone's IRS hearings, give me the money for hitting the gobstopper! Give it to me!" Do you then go on to the local pitch 'n' putt and take 232 shots to get round? Then you need an Amiga golf game. And not just any Amiga golf game. You need this one...

Amiga games can be things of extreme delight. This normally happens when programmers get together and say: "Let's try something a bit, well, new. Let's give the customer a few choices that they can take without having first to have obtained a degree in applied lateral thinking. Let's make this one a fun game".

You're expecting me to say something clever now, something like: "Wouldn't it have been great if The Really Useful Software Company had done this?. Well, they have.

Let's go all the way!
We have a situation here that is akin to the situation in Amiga footy sims. There was a time when Kick Off ruled the roost. Then Sensible Soccer came along and we all looked at dear old KO and saw that it was dated - good, but dated.

The situation with golf games has been that Electronic Arts' PGA Tour Golf took on all-corners and thrashed them in terms of playability. But now, Ocean's Ryder Cup has slipped into its red plus fours, dusted down its Ping irons, donned its stupid-looking sweater, addressed the ball and is set to take PGA all the way to the 18th.

The thing it lacks are few, but irksome. You don't get to see your stats grow as you improve; the putting is not taxing enough, and the maps of the holes are too small and lack detail. What it has in its favour however, is a bucket load of style, options graphics, playability and value.

For a tee-off, there are three control systems. Not three levels of play, but three separate and equally effective methods by which to get the little white, pimply sphere from the tee into the hole. You can use power and snap; You can use power, shot type and target; or you can use the wobbly sight over the ball that was premiered in Ocean's International Open Golf game (upon which Ryder is based).

All three methods of control are effective, all three require their own levels of skill and finesse, and all three enable any Amiga sports fan to easily extract more of a good time than should really be allowed with a mouse, an Amiga and a game based on the favourite sport of resting football players.
Phew. It really is good is this game...

Graphically it takes PGA's nine iron and does disgusting things with it in the rough. The landscapes and even the golfers themselves are drawn with elegance, style and enough subtlety to make you forget that it's two below zero, raining and your best friend just run off with your dog. The redraws just happen. Ping! And then you're there (which is more than you can say for the system-ravaging Links).

The rough looks rough and the fairway looks... fair. OK, so the green all look as if they've been built by Chris Bonnington in a particularly sadistic mood, perches as they all seem to be on hilltops, but they are still playable.


Ryder Cup has slipped into its red plus fours, donned its stupid-looking sweater, addressed the ball and is set to take PGA all the way to the 18th.

The sound sucks...
The sound is poor. Belay that, the sound is shamefully dismal. Why the programmers think that we should be happy with 'Tweet tweet', 'Plop'and 'Yah-hah!' is beyond me. Putting this audio atrocity on this superb game is akin to sticking a suckered Mr Blobby doll on the side window of a Hispana Suiza. You should get it together, chaps.

But what of the options? Lovely. You don't get the useless practice drive and practice green options that no one ever uses. You get straightforward, practice the course or play the course. There's no choice of clubs but there is choice of team mates.

This is the Ryder Cup of course, where golfers stop being walking money machines with as much charisma as a parliamentary under secretary for glass recycling and become national heroes.

You get to play in a glorious team, either European or that other lot from over the Atlantic. You play foursomes, fourballs and singles, standing (virtually, of course) shoulder-to-shoulder with greats such as Seve, Bernhard, Woosie or Mark James. You even get to edit our Mark James and type in your own name.

This turns Ryder Cup into the Sensible Soccer of golf games. Before long you hear yourself intoning in a whisper (in case the Americans hear): "Come on Bernie son (Langer that is). Don't let us down lad, we only need to halve this one and we've got the buggers on the run." Or, more often than not: "Sorry Nick mate, hooking's been a problem today, the old mouse finger's playing me up, still it's only the 12th".

Great, smashing, super
This is a fine, fine, fine game with more to offer than a government minister in a child support hearing. Options, style, playability and sporting tensions. Excellent.



Ryder Cup logo AGA A1200 Speziell

Fünf Monate ließ Ocean über de Flop "International Open Golf Championship" wachsen, jetzt präsentiert man den Nobel-sportlern mit 1200er-Caddy den Nachfolger. Doch auch der verbreitet wenig Freude am Grün...

Als Mitglieder von zwei konkurrierenden Teams dürfen sich maximal vier Golfer um den A1200 scharen, sich mit je 13 Schlägern bewaffnen und die vier Kurse zunächst in einer Übungsrunde beschnuppern, ehe sie sie endgültig umpflügen. Dabei erblicken sie eine etwas verwaschen wirkende 3D-Szenerie mit einem leidlich animierten Hauptdarsteller und den rundherum angeordneten Pulldownmenüs.

Um nun Schwung in die Sache zu bringen, kann man entweder auf die bereits vom Vorgänger bekannte, aber recht ungenaue Methode zurückgreifen und mit Hilfe eines wackeligen Fadenkreuzes auf den vergrößert dargestellten Ball eindreschen.

Alternativ dazu läßt sich neuerdings auch in typischer "Links"-Manier eine kreisförmige Poweranzeige durch zwei Mausklicks stoppen, um die gewünschte Schlagstärke und Flugrichtung zu erhalten.

Im Flug darf der Ball dann aus drei verschiedenen Perspektive betrachtet werden, und bei Einputten hilft ein über die Landschaft gelegtes (sehr grobmaschiges) Gitternetz, die Platzunebenheiten besser abzuschätzen.

Leider krankt das Programm nicht nur an der grob gepixelten Grafik: Die ruckelige Animation des Bällchens ist alles andere als realistisch, den Sound stellt man am besten gleich ab, und zu allem Überfluß ist man bei der Reichweite der einzelnen Schläger auf pure Vermutungen angewiesen.

Lediglich die Maussteuerung ist halbwegs gelungen, doch das rettet den Spielspaß auch nicht mehr. Gut, daß es noch mehr und vor allem saftigere Digi-Wiesen für Golfer gibt! (md)



Ryder Cup logo AGA

"The crowd grows silent as young golfing sensation Cameron Winstanley steps up to the tee. As usual he's looking very stylish in his camouflage gear. Hold on, what's that he's pulling from his jacket? It's a gun!!


Knock the ball into the little hole thing

CLUBBING MAYHEM

Ryder Cup
The power bar and sight combat's my fave method.

Ryder Cup
Power and slice show up nicely with this option.

Ryder Cup
Putting's an over-simple matter of selecting power.

Ryder Cup
Real golfers (damn their corrupt souls) make choosing clubs sound like some sort of religious deal, but woods hit further than irons. Is that hard?



Ryder Cup CD32 logo CD32

Golf, a good walk ruined? I think not. Ryder Cup (Ocean, 061-832 6633, £29.99, 85 per cent) is the team tournament played between Europe and the USA. Visually, it's superb (speedy graphic redraw), there are three different control options and four courses to tackle. You can join Seve and the gang or simply play singles.

However, although Ryder Cup plays nicely it still doesn't quite match the ageing, but classic, PGA Tour.



Ryder Cup CD32 logo CD32

Auf Disk sorgte Ocean's Golfsimulation trotzt ihrer speziellen Ausrichtung auf Nobelsportler mit noblem A1200 nicht eben für Begeisterung. Doch nun geschah das Wunder: Die CD-Version kann sich sehen lassen!

Verweilen wir aber zunächst noch kurz beim sportlichen Wesenskern, an dem sich gegenüber der vorangegangenen Fassung nichts geändert hat. Nach wie vor dürfen bis zu vier menschlicher Ballquäler als Mitglieder zweier Golfclubs oder gemeinsam im Team gegen die rechnergesteuerte Konkurrenz antreten.

Grünschnäbel können zuvor noch einen Übungsparcours besuchen, dann sattelt man die 13 Schläger und sucht sich einen der vier vorrätigen Plätze aus.

Auf dem rundherum mit Icons bepflasterten Screen wartet jetzt ein adrett gezeichneter Golfer inmitten der Wiesen, Bäume, Bäche und Sandbunker auf den Schlagbefehl. Dieser läßt sich in fünf verschiedenen Varianten (Chip, Punch, Normal...) erteilen, dazu stehen zwei Steuermöglichkeiten zur Wahl: Die schon beim Vorgänger "International Open Golf Championship" zu zweifelhaftem Ruhm gelangte Wackeltechnik besteht darin, ein nervös hin- und her-zuckendes Fadenkreuz möglichst exakt auf dem vergrößert dargestellten Ball zu Positionieren.

Viel praktikabler ist die an die klassische "Links"-Methode angelehnte Alternative; dabei werden die Schläge zielgenau mit Hilfe eines schnell ablaufenden und dreifach abstoppbaren Powerkreises durchgeführt.

Natürlich verdient auch der wechselhafte Wind besondere Beachtung, genauso die Lage der Murmel und die Reichweite des verwendeten Schlaginstruments. Sollte das eigensinnige Bällchen mal im Wasser oder außerhalb des Clubgeländes landen, gibt's einen Strafschlag und die Erlaubnis zur Wiederholung der gescheiterten Aktion. Sobald man das Grün erreicht hat, wird ein (neuerdings sehr engmaschiges!) Gitternetz zur Abschätzung der Geländeunebenheiten darübergelegt, und beim Einputten kommt eine Powersäule zum Einsatz, der allerdings immer noch die Längenangaben fehlen.

Was die Verbesserungen im einzelnen betrifft, sei als erstes die sichtbar verfeinerte und mit mehr Schattierungen versehen Optik angeführt. Damit sich niemand über mangelnde Übersicht beklagt, kann man das anstehende Loch aus drei unterschiedlichen Blickwinkeln und dazu den ganzen Platz von oben betrachten.

Die Steuerung via Gamepad funktioniert ebenfalls deutlich besser als mit der schwammig reagierenden Maus, welche Golfer mit einem Hang zur Selbstbestrafung und/oder mit CD-Laufwerk aber nach wie vor benützen dürfen.

Schließlich klingt auch die Soundbegleitung ein ganzes Stück besser als früher; trotzdem sind noch ein paar Gründe zur Klage übriggeblieben: Es lassen sich keine Spielstände speichern, die Ballflugsequenz ist völlig unrealistisch animiert, und die Maus ist wie gesagt ein Graus.

Unter dem Strich ist also auch der silberne Ryder Cup noch nicht die ultimative Golfsimulation - aber aufgrund der vorgenommenen Verbesserungen doch eine recht brauchbare. (md)