the professional golfing season draws to a close (now that the
'small' matter of the Ryder Cup has been settled), you may wonder
how the sports top names will be unwinding during the winter
Well, I know the answer, and I'll let you into a little secret.
They will be transformed into polygons and then crawl inside your
Playstation to take part in the best golfing game that has
appeared on any video game console.
Golf has changed on the Playstation. Big style.
second in Gremlin's Actua Golf series.
where do we start with the graphics? The exciting news is that
Actua Golf 2 is no quick cash in as it is now superbly presented
by the use of their updated graphics engine which shows off many
new effects including improved texture mapped landscapes and new
scenery, water reflections and a selection of brand new courses.
First sight left me feeling that the courses looked a little
cartoony but this is in fact the depth of the color used. The
grass is very impressive with the rich fairways looking inviting
as hollows and bumps are nicely shaded to indicate which direction
your ball will roll on contact.
Once again the participating golfers have been animated using the
realistic motion-capture technique.
The most obvious use of the 3D polygon environment is in the many
viewing angles that are once again available by using the
free-floating player controllable camera.
will be once again provided by Peter Allis and BBC radio
commentator Alex Hay to dissect each shot that you play, while
each of the commentators may be used individually or mixed
The accuracy is unbelievable and unlike many other sports games,
it follows each shot quickly and fluidly. Comments range from the
complementary to the positively insulting, such as "If that
ball had a body, it would be up to it's neck in sand."
Before you tee off, you can sit back and listen to the soothing
tones of Peter describing the dangers surrounding the current
hole, while the camera pans from tee to green. He will often
include the odd anecdote from his past to describe weather
conditions such as 'An old caddie once said to me "there's a
lot of wind out there that you cannot see".
Golf 2 keeps up with the Actua tradition by offering a wealth of
In the past, most golfing games have been a little shy in the
course selection department offering, at best, a couple of fantasy
courses to play over and over again. Actua Golf 2 provides an
awesome SIX golfing venues. There are three fantasy courses based
on a selection of real holes from some of the best courses in the
world. The greatest news of all, however, is that for the first
time three real-world courses have been mapped, modelled and
reproduced for you to play. Now that's VFM.
The Oxfordshire is the venue for the Benson & Hedges
International Open which is the first of the major PGA
Kiawah Islands is a top American PGA course and Ryder Cup venue.
The trio is complete with arguably that most famous of Scottish
links courses Carnoustie, which will host the British Open in
The fantasy courses include Sunny Green Country Club, a misty
Japanese course which is set in a dense forest.
Orange Rock Golf Course is set in the heart of the desert where
patches of greens and fairways are surrounded by baking sands
where the cacti grow. Miss the fairway and your in one hell of a
Forest Downs is the final fantasy course that is set in the heart
There is also a bonus course that takes the form of the Gremlin
Interactive Variety Course where the player can select 18
individual holes from the six available courses or simply select a
random 18 where the computer will make your choice for you.
On loading the game you are presented with a tidy options screen
that allows you to customize your playing habit. The game options
are plentiful with the availability of a practice session,
strokeplay, matchplay, skins, foursomes and fourball.
Practice sessions allow you to select any of the holes from all
of the courses, or try out the new driving range and pitch and
putt modes. The driving range allows you to pick up a basket of
balls and strike them down an actual range that has distance
markers and target areas. Pitch and putt places you in a central
area surrounded by 9 holes, each with a par 2. This allows you to
hone your pitching and putting skills before you take to the
The competitions have an ingenious format where you must first
enter an Amateur match with a handicap of 28 strokes. After each
single round contest your handicap is reviewed, with the eventual
target to be playing off scratch. Once this status is reached you
will be offered to join the Pro Tour where you will take on the
best golfers in Gremlins little world of golf ,over a selection of
four day / 72 hole competitions for the top prizes. When the tour
is over, the bottom six golfers are relegated back to an Amateur
status where they must once again play out the AMA Tour to regain
pro status. This creates a league system that will hold your
attention for quite some time.
Further options allow you to set up and name your golfer, which
should be saved on a memory card to avoid repeating this process.
This will also allow your golfers career statistics to be recorded
showing your triumphs, longest drives, average shots per hole and
most importantly your earnings.
The game options may be set prior to your tee off, in effect this
is a difficulty setting that allows gimmie's, mulligans, hole
maps, putting grids or driving arcs but these options may be
altered during the course of play. There is a new option which
allows you to skip the CPU shots. When selected this speeds up
play in the tournaments as your opponents shot takes only a couple
One of the major improvements will be the inclusion of a
selection of new shots that the golfer can play. Ball logic has
been significantly improved allowing more shot types. It will now
be possible for the player to include backspin in his repertoire
of shots, which was sadly missing from the first Actua Golf game.
High lobs and splash shots will also be a welcome addition.
Striking of the ball once again requires the usual accurate
pressing of the X button three times and a sweet connection is
rewarded with a perfect shot. The all new swingometer displays a
caddie line at the top of the arc and a snap line at the bottom.
Stopping the indicator before the snap line will hook the ball
while after will slice it, either will produce an out of control
Golfing games are all fairly similar in the striking department
but they will prove successful or fail miserably by the way that
the ball reacts on the course. Actua Golf has achieved a
challenging 3D environment where your ball will react to the
surrounding that it lands on. If your ball lands in the rough, it
will grind to a sudden halt and a connection with a tree will see
your ball rebound from the trunk as if it had just struck a brick
wall. Leaves and bushes will stop your ball in mid-flight and drop
dead to the ground. Landing on a hillside will roll your ball down
the bank to befall whatever danger lurks at the bottom. Bunkers
see your ball bury in the sand and can now become plugged
providing an explosion of loose grains scattering across the
course. If your ball lands off the fairway you must chip it back
onto the playing surface rather than select your Big Bertha and
drive for the green which was a failing in the original game. It
all works quite well and provides an excellent challenge that does
justice to the sport.
Weather condition will affect your game and you must adjust your
style to suit. Wet fairways will dramatically reduce the roll of
your ball while a dry landing will see it bounding off into the
distance. Wind must be judged and counteracted with the available
option to draw and fade or it will fly of into the distance and
most probably out of bounds.
enjoyed the challenge of reducing my handicap in a AMA Tour, with
the amateur opposition providing a stronger test than the original
game. On reaching PRO status, the big boys enter the scene
allowing you to pit your skills against most of the worlds top
golfing names such as Tiger Woods, Nick Faldo, Ernie Els and Greg
Of the many new features the most impressive were the new Driving
Range, Pitch and Putt, the Auto CPU, shorter loading times, the
six challenging courses and of course the great new look.
If you don't own a golf game then I can heartily recommend that
you pick up a copy of Actua Golf 2. If there's already one
gathering dust on the shelves then trade it in and amaze yourself
at the improvements.
nothing can compare to playing the actual sport of golf, Gremlin
have achieved a milestone in video game sport that will take an
age to surpass. The superb 3 D technology and wealth of options
will keep the armchair fan content throughout the long winter
break. Actua Golf 2 is so much more playable than the original
with good shots more likely to be rewarded with an Eagle while
wayward drives are severely penalized. Just like the actual sport.