PGA European Tour Golf

Golf game reviewed

PlayStation Developer:InfogramesPublisher:Infogrames

Introduction

epga1
Your golfing options

Let's get this straight. I'm not the world's biggest golfing fan. In fact, I'd go as far to say that I would much rather redecorate an entire house, than sit and watch it on TV. I can't even stand playing the real game itself. That could be down an inability to actually hit the ball though!

So why, you may be asking, am I reviewing a golf game on the PlayStation. It's purely for the simple reason that I absolutely love computerised golf games!

Why waste all that money on expensive clubs and fancy cardigans, when you can simply shell out £39.99 instead. Dump yourself in an armchair, grab a controller, and set those balls flying down the fairways.

European PGA Tour Golf is the latest offering from Infogrames, attempting to nestle itself in an already bloated market of golfing games.

Have you got what it takes to conquer all in the European Tour?

Features

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Prize money up for grabs. Shame it's not real!

The game is officially supported by the European Tour itself. All the player names you'd expect to see in their respectively skilled tournament are included. It'll take a little work to get to meet the likes of Nick Faldo in the professional world.

EPGA has six authentic courses, including Druid's Glen in Ireland, The Islands in Italy and Hanbury Manor in England. I can only take their word for it that they are indeed authentic, not having seen or played on any!

In addition to the serious tournaments, you also have five fun variants too. These are Clock, Hazard, Island, Night and Super Shootout golf. More importantly, for the amateurs amongst you, there is a set of practice modes too.

To further the atmosphere and authenticity of the game, commentary comes to you from Peter Alliss and Alex Hay.

Know Your Fairway

epga3
Fine day for a round of Golf

Once at the menu, you can either go for a quick match, enter the main tournaments, practice, or choose a fun game. Unless you're skilled already, you're better off heading for the practice options and get yourselves used to the way the game works.

When ready, head for the tournaments. You begin with the two-day AMA Season tournament, consisting of 24 golfers over 36 holes. You need to have achieved a handicap of 0 (zero) at the end of the season, to enable you to progress through to the Challenge Tour tournament. Easier said than done.

With your golfer ready to take the putt, you have a number of pre-shot options. One of the most important of all is to actually know the fairway you're about to play on! You can do this in two ways; firstly before selecting to play the shot you can use the game's Walk or Fly-By hole. The latter option will give you a neat panoramic view of the fairway ahead, preceded by a handy dotted indicator showing you the ideal path to take.

Secondly, and after you have opted to play the shot, you can switch the camera view at any time from golfer to fairway centre and to the flag. This isn't the best way of seeking out the best path, but can be useful sometimes.

A Stroke of Genius?

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DNM will take you all on!!

Once you are ready to tee-off, a green arrow appears indicating the altitude and direction the ball will take. You can adjust this to putt further or nearer, depending on the situation. You may also opt to change the club selected for you. Quite often an Iron club will be selected when the Driver club would do a far better job.

Wind must also be taken into consideration. An indicator in the bottom left hand corner shows both the direction and speed the wind is blowing in. Careful analysis of this can be crucial.

The green arrow will flash red if the path is blocked by something, yellow if it isn't in line with the flag and orange if the shot is blocked but clearance can be attained by selection of the correct shot-type.

The shot accuracy and power are governed by the Swingometer. Pressing the 'X' key will initiate the shot, and set the power bar moving. Press it again when the power level reaches the recommended level. The bar will then go back down, and you then press it again to select the accuracy. For a perfect shot with no sidespin, you need to stop the indicator bang on the thicker accuracy mark.

The Iron clubs are easy to judge both power and accuracy, but the Driver is a lot harder to judge with the bar indicator rising and dipping a whole lot faster. This makes for some really quite hilarious mishits if you don't get anywhere near the main accuracy mark!

Graphics and Sound

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Easy does does it

With the luscious green fairways and scenery from the real life locations, you already have yourself a perfect opportunity for "eye candy central". Not that EPGA takes advantage of this.

Graphically the game is rather dull. The courses are represented well enough for sure, but there's a real washed out look about it all. The background graphics don't seem to sit well with the foreground most of the time, nullifying the illusion of depth completely. The player graphics are quite awful, and lack variety. No attempt has been made to make each player look different to the other.

The actual courses are all very well done though despite their washed out look. Hills and inclines are all very easy to spot, and rough areas clearly visible.

As you'd expect, sound really isn't the main focus of a golf game. Commentary from Peter Alliss and Alex Hay is very good, with some classic statements. The crowd, though not actually graphically depicted, cheer the good shots, birds chirp and the wind blows against microphone wind booms. It does the job.

Conclusion

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In a bunker, but shouldn't be a problem

Let's face it, EPGA plays a good round of golf. There are no real complaints about the gameplay itself, with Birdie and Par shots being reasonably easy to achieve, even for a golf luddite like me.

Unfortunately, it's the graphics that ultimately let the game down. After 36 holes of the same bland looking fairways, it becomes fairly tiresome to play. Move to the next course, and there's no real indication that you're playing in an entirely different location.

I'm not asking for people to come out dancing in sombrero hats in Spain, or for there to be tea and biscuits laid on in England; just for there to be a little variety to soothe the eyes.

An opportunity missed has to be the Night Golf option. I was expecting fluorescent strips on the golfers, flag and ball, but otherwise pitch black - Like the real night golf. Alas no, the background is darkened, but the game still looks like it's playing in twilight!

I love a good round of computerised golf me, but sadly the 19th hole was to switch this off and play something else.

What The Scores Mean

- Out Now

       

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