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Touted by the designers as the most significant upgrade to the long-standing Links series in more than a decade, Links 2001, published by Microsoft, brings new features and enhancements to the best-selling (according to sales records) golf simulation on the market.
The inclusion of the Arnold Palmer Course Designer brings the Links franchise into the 21st century on par with other golf simulations available at the time of its release, such as PGA Championship 2000, by allowing users to design and exchange courses via the Internet without paying add-on course fees. The designer is the same editing software used to create many of the courses featured in the retail version of the game.
The courses featured in Links 2001 are designed using aerial survey data and greens with more than 500 GPS readings per green, accurate to the nearest centimeter. Links 2001 ships with five real world courses and one fantasy layout, Mesa Roja (carved from the red rock and desert environment of the southwestern United States).
Other courses include Scotland's St. Andrews Links Old Course; Arnold Palmer's design of Aviara in Carlsbad, CA; Westfields in Virginia; Canada's Chateau Whistler from the foothills of the Canadian Rockies; and Hawaii's Princeville.
In addition to the course designer, other enhancements include ambient flying birds and billowing tee-flags, support up to a 1280x1024 resolution, optional 3D acceleration, a new graphics rendering engine, 14 new golfer animations (both left and right handed), moveable swing gauge, interactive lessons, and multiplayer online improvements. A few features inherent to earlier editions of the game, such as the ability to change shirt colors and the left- and right-distance aiming marker, have been removed.
Adding to the stable of world class golfers you can play as or against are Sweden's Annika Sörenstam and Spain's Sergio Garcia. Each golfer, along with Arnold Palmer, reflects accurate personalized styles, mannerisms, and speech. The option to customize club distances is also available for newly created golfers, either human or computer.
As well as offering a Mode of Play (MOP) designer, Links 2001 contains 46 pre-designed MOPs, ranging from team configurations with specialized rules to solo play. Other features include the Ready Play option in multiplayer, designed to speed up Internet play, three possible swing styles (classic 2- or 3-click), PowerStroke or easy, slope, wind and lie indicators, adjustable "gimmes" and mulligans and hotkey support.
Player creation allows you to adjust and select various features such as appearance, clubs, club distances, left or right handedness, skill levels, tee boxes, swing types and more. Shots can be shaped using draw or hook and fade or slice options, and a variety of shot choices such as flop shots and chip shots are available on a pop-up menu during gameplay.
The Arnold Palmer Course Designer contains an extensive library of 2D and 3D objects including people, pins and tees, a checklist for help in designing, multiple view angles, a plethora of terrain and environmental choices, sound files (e.g., water, birds) and a "foresting" technique used for filling large areas quickly. Each hole can have up to 18 pin positions in groups of six labeled easy, normal or hard.
Think you've got what it takes to compete against the pros? Find out in Links 2001 — Arnie's waiting for you! ~ Michael L. House, All Game Guide