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A.P.I Review: ACTUA GOLF 3
Developer: Gremlin OPTIONS: S.SHOT
No.1   No.2   No.3
Distributor: Gremlin 1-4 Player Multi-tap
Game Type: Sports Sim Memory Card
Review Date: November 1998 Analog/Dual Shock Compatible

Setting the Scene

Recently I was glancing through our release dates section and Actua Golf 3 almost passed by unnoticed. Perhaps this was because last years effort from Gremlin was so damn good that any further updates on the Playstation would be thought of as a quick cash-in.

Actua Golf 2 had been superbly presented by the use of Gremlins updated graphics engine which showed off many new effects including improved texture mapped undulating landscapes surrounded by picturesque scenery. There was no more Fuzzy Fitzpatrick taking eighteen strokes to down a simple six foot putt. Nor did you have to repeatedly trudge around a measly two golf courses. Actua Golf 2 provided an awesome six golfing venues including three real-world courses had been mapped, modelled and reproduced for your enjoyment.
Golf had finally reached the next generation.

So what improvements could be implemented to justify a third game in the series? How about even more realistic scenery and... get this... a brand new, revolutionary control system that allows you to swing the club with an accuracy rather than button bash your way up the fairways.


The third in Gremlins Actua Golf series where the object of the game is to strike the ball from tee to hole in the least number of shots over several courses that each include eighteen individually designed challenges. Each hole has an allocated number of shots which, if under, will move your score below par.


The exciting part about loading up Actua Golf 3 for the very first time is that you get no lavish intro to prepare you for the glorious visuals which are about to unfold. In fact should you leave the game running unattended then the brief rolling demos, which automatically load up, only go towards fooling you into thinking that there has been very little improvement in the visuals over the last twelve months. Nice one Gremlin, you certainly tricked me. Even the option screen has been stripped naked.

I remember staring at the loading screen, sarcastically commenting on how one day in-game graphics would look as real as the picture portrayed in the background. Then... WHAM..! it hit's you straight between the eyes. Hey..! those trees are swaying back and forth with the stiff easterly breeze. Are those cumulous clouds actually moving across the horizon? They sure are!

The rich fairways look so inviting as carefully shaded hollows and bumps indicate which direction your ball will roll on contact. The rough once again has that threatening lush appearance while pools of sandy colored bunkers are splashed wherever respite may be gained. Shrubs, fences and bushes are strategically placed while every conceivable tree known to Mother Nature looks as if it has been nurtured from seed rather than constructed from sprites. The water is no longer a dull splash of light blue color and now features moving reflections that bring the hazard to life.

Once again the participating golfers have been animated using the realistic motion-capture technique. Don't expect them to look and move like Tekken 3 characters, but they do bare a slight resemblance to the real golfers that they portray. If you are into Barbie Dolls and Action Men then why not take the time to dress your little man from a wardrobe that contains many different outfits and headgear, while a choice of skin color determines his race.

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. Prior to teeing off you may walk the course, giving you a chance to move up to the perfect landing zone and survey all hazards in its path.

No fewer than 11 different player views and a similar number of ball cameras are available for selection. Gremlin have once again included the INTELLICAM, which will follow the balls progress using a number of switching views, to achieve a similar effect as is seen on the television coverage of the game.

The beauty of the having so many different camera angles is that this allows you to track your shot and replay it from any position, with up to three windows on view at any one time. This facility allows you to study a difficult bunker or to walk around the green, checking for the subtlest variations in the lay of the land that might affect that vital putt.

Sounds and Effects

Of course any golfing game would be incomplete without the dulcet tones and expertise of Peter Alliss. That man's voice was surely made for golf!

Peter Alliss has appeared as a Ryder Cup player eight times and was twice captain of the PGA. Among his many Tour victories are 3 PGA Championships, the Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese Opens. He has been involved with course design for the past 20 years and designed the Ryder Cup course, the Belfry. Peter is generally recognized as one of the best golf commentators in the world and, apart from his BBC commitments, which include the Pro Celebrity Golf series and his own half hour program called "A Round With Alliss", he has provided commentary for many years in America.

Once again Peter is joined by BBC radio commentator Alex Hay to dissect each shot that you play. Each of the commentators may be used individually or mixed accordingly. 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.


So we have determined that the visuals and sound are of a high quality but does the gameplay follow the usual 'press the X button three times' style that we have come to expect from golfing games in the past? That all depends on whether you own an analog control pad. Without this splendid peripheral the answer is a simple yes. Face buttons are used to select clubs, choose camera system, adjust view and hit the ball with a sweet connection being rewarded with a perfect shot. The swingometer displays a caddie line at the top of the circle 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 shot.

However switching over to analog mode offers a brand new system that golfing games have been screaming out for. Using the small joysticks allow you to adjust the arc, practice your swing and then strike the ball with an accuracy never before witnessed. Once you have lined up your shot the speed, accuracy and power of the swing is controlled using the left stick. Pulling the left stick back will make your player pull the club back, ready for the swing. As soon as you reached the desired power level the stick is then pushed forward to begin the downward swing. Similar to the swing in real golf a smooth, straight back and forward motion results in the desired shot. The speed and accuracy at which you bring down the club will affect the overall power of the shot. Any horizontal movement of the left stick can affect the accuracy of the shot... just like real golf. It works! It's brilliant!

Gameplay modes include Quick Golf which is a single hole from a random course against a random CPU or human controlled opponent.

Practice mode allows up to four human players work-out on a central tee surrounded by several greens. This mode is ideal to improving your pitching and putting.

Strokeplay allows up to four human players to compete a round of golf where the player with the lowest score is declared the winner.

Matchplay is the classical contest where each hole is awarded to the player taking the least number of strokes.

Skins is the cash contest where a set amount of money is won for each individual hole played.

Foursome is a team game where both players on each side share the same ball taking alternate shots.

Fourball involves two teams of two with each player having their own ball. Whoever takes the least number of strokes wins the hole outright for their team.

Flag golf is a single player game where the objective is to play as many holes as possible within a limited number of shots.

Clock golf allows up to four players to participate in a game of speed golf against the clock. Before teeing off a set time is decided among player... say 20 seconds. Each player then takes their shot and the ball must come to rest before time runs out. A great quick-fire after a night in the pub.

The Driving Competition is all about accuracy. Wind settings are high as each player takes turn to select their club and land a ball in one of three target areas. Cash prizes are awarded for accuracy.

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. Succeed in the Pro Tour and you will receive an invite to the Pro Tour+ where many of the courses are mirrored to offer a fresh challenge.

There are six challenging courses that take you on a tour around the world to England, Sweden, USA, Spain, Ireland, Hawaii and Gremlins own interactive variety golf course.

Value for Money

Most sporting titles are updated at least once a year, but this does not always make them good value for money. With improved commentary and visuals, a few extra playing modes, increased CPU A.I. and an all new control system that really works Actua Golf 3 is the most complete golfing experience on the Playstation to date.

GRAPHICS: 18/20 Golfing games in the past have had so little to do with the popular sport that takes place on the greens and fairways all across the world. Anyone who has thrown a golf club down in anger will tell you that accurately striking a small white ball with a thin metal stick is a little more difficult than pressing a joypad button three times in succession.

Gremlin have finally cracked it by implementing a new control system that allows the club to be swung using an analog stick. It works a treat and actually feels as if you are swinging through that ball.

If Actua Golf was a Par and Actua Golf 2 a Birdie, then Actua Golf 3 is definitely an Eagle.
SOUND: 8/10
VALUE: 18/20


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