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SmartGamer - Links Review

Links, by Hexacto

Review by James Sweet

Links is one of those games that we�ve been waiting for since smartphones were first launched, and now that it is almost upon us the question must be: was it worth that wait?

   

First thing I noticed was this is a BIG game, 7Mb of storage space is required along with 6.5Mb of free application memory, which pretty much guarantees you will need a decent sized SD/MMC card to run, and very little installed to your Phone�s memory. Some pretty loading screens greeted me upon booting up, and then I was teeing up, ready for my first game.

This is not a game you can just guess the controls and start smashing golf balls all over the place. A quick glance at the help page is necessary, but having taken these few seconds out you begin to realise how cleverly done the controls are. The action button plonks a red and white pole in front of your player, which is the point you are aiming for. Moving the pad around moves the marker, and adjusts your aim accordingly. In case you forget where the hole is a tap of the 3 button speeds a yellow flag from the hole to you, and back to the hole, so you can instantly get your bearings. The 1 button hides the Heads up displays, so you have a clear view to take your shot. Once you are happy with your aim you hold down the 5 button to build up power for your shot, and upon letting go WHACK!

       

Of course knowing exactly where to aim and how much power you should use is something that takes skill and practise, so no hole-in-ones for me unfortunately. However, even a golfing newbie such as me found my bearings easily enough thanks to the very informative heads up displays, which gives you three little bubbles. The top one has a little crosshair to tell you how the ground is sloped, the middle one gives you the wind direction, with a little yellow strength indicator below, and the last tells you what kind of ground the ball is on. You will be able to transfer a lot more power to the ball if it is on the fairway rather than in long grass! There is a small diagram above this telling you the distance and height difference to the red and white marker from your position, and from the marker to the hole.

Everything is configurable, a club is selected automatically for you for each shot, but it is a simple matter to change it to one you think would be more appropriate. You can also change from a straight shot to something more appropriate for the terrain, like a punch or chip to get the ball out of long grass.

If the ball goes somewhere it shouldn�t, like in the water or trees you will be able to move the ball back from the point it went awry until you can take a shot, and you have options to rotate the view to the marker, rotate to hole, or just rotate to a direction that suits you better.

   

All this takes place in some of the most beautiful scenery to grace the smartphone to date. I don�t need to tell you that the quality of the graphics is absolutely superb, as the screenshots speak for themselves. Photo-realistic backdrops, clouds, trees, water, and of course plenty of grass � its all there. There�s no way this game can fail to impress your mates down the pub with graphics as gorgeous as this.

Photo-realistic backdrops, clouds, trees, water, and of course plenty of grass � its all there. There�s no way this game can fail to impress your mates down the pub with graphics as gorgeous as this.

Viewing can be adjusted to panoramic mode, which moves the camera back and up to better show off the scenery, and dynamic adjusts the camera mid flight to show the ball coming in for a landing (hopefully not in the mud, assuming you are better than me!) The landing view is really nice to see, but slightly increases the calculation time to render. A top down view option gives you a little minimap in the top right corner, which is quite handy in giving you the bigger picture.

If you are a statistics junkie then there are plenty to keep you happy. Everything from longest drive through to the percentage you use a certain club is available for you to peruse through; a scorecard details your performance for each hole in the current game, a cumulative player stats page tells you everything you could every want to know about how you play the game, and a game statistics page gives some general statistics on your current game.

A couple of things were missing from the preview version I had. Unfortunately sound wasn�t yet implemented so I can�t tell you anything about that, although one would imagine the usual crickets and bird chirps in the background, and some kind of audible whack when you hit the ball. Also (annoyingly) there didn�t seem to be any load game option present in the preview version, which meant that although I had no problems saving a game, I couldn�t come back to it at a later date. You can be sure this will be fixed in the final release though, as well as the couple of fatal exception errors I encountered (only twice so far, though, after quite a lot of gameplay!)

Bad points? It�s hard to think of any really. I guess some people might find it annoying that you have to wait a second between shots and changing views, while it renders the new scene. I don�t think that is much of a problem in a game like this though, where real time action is unimportant. You will take some time to line up your shot anyway, so what�s a few more seconds going to matter? I guess another bad point is that it needs a lot of memory. Chateau Whistler Golf course has 9 holes for you to conquer in a game. As I saw no mention of other golf courses I assume that this is the only one (I could be wrong here), but hopefully this will be enough to keep you occupied, as after completing a game you will definitely want to go back and start another for improved scores and to ogle the marvellous scenery!

Conclusion

To conclude, I have to say this is definitely one of the finest smartphone2002 games to date. Graphics are stunning, gameplay is addictive, and the controls are masterfully adapted for phone use. Links has been a long time coming, but I think I can safely say it has been worth the wait. This is one purchase you won�t regret making.

Pros:

Stunning graphics
Very addictive
Excellent control arrangement
Something to show off down the pub

Cons:

Needs lots of free phone memory AND storage memory
Limited number of courses (?)
Being so good I can�t think of any more cons.

Links scores 10/10

Scoring

All reviews are rated from 1 to 10, with 1 being the lowest score available and 10 the highest.

Here at SmartGamer.org, we pride ourselves on rating games as fairly and honestly as possible.

If a game deserves a low score, rest assured that it will get it.


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