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Gremlin Interactive



Gremlin Interactive

1-4 Players

Game Type

Sports Sim

Mem. Card

Review Date

October '96

Setting the Scene

After a long wait, Actua Golf has finally surfaced on the PlayStation. Being a keen golfer myself, I was looking forward to a game that would test my golfing knowledge (gained over many hours of trudging several miles in varying adverse weather conditions), rather than the usual test of how accurately I could press the "X" button on my joypad. Far too many golf games fall into this category and surely only a true 3D environment would raise the necessary challenge that a real course will offer you.

Reading the manual would have you believe that the creators of this game have managed to do just that........ Well lets see!


Actua Golf is a 3D golfing game that offers the choice of playing against a computer opponent or up to eight human players using a multi-tap. The striking of the ball requires an accurate press of a joypad button while the environment ebbs and flows and holds many treacherous dangers.

The object of the game is to strike the ball from tee to hole in the least number of shots over a golf course that includes eighteen individually designed holes. Each hole has an allocated number of shots which, if under, will move your score below par.


Following the many delays that accompanied this game, I had hoped that the graphic environment would be void of obvious flaws. The grass is impressive with the fairways looking inviting and hollows and bumps nicely shaded to indicate which direction your ball will roll on contact. the rough has a nice wispy look to it and from a distance, the weeping willows look like a work of art. Unfortunately the same trees look pretty awful when you get close up, a common problem in golf games. The water looks like a pretty blue path winding its way up towards the green and not, as we golfer know, the man-trap it really is - heavily penalized and usually resulting in at least a shot dropped, hole lost, or is extreme cases a pro-golfers career ruined.

The most obvious use of the 3D polygon environment is in the many camera angles that are available. 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 12 different player views and a similar number of ball cameras are available for selection. Gremlin have also created 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.

Sounds and Effects

The wonderfully sarcastic commentary team is headed by Peter Aliss. That mans voice was surely made for golf! There is also an option to hear the comments of Pat O'Brien or Tony Adamson while each of the commentators may be used individually or mixed accordingly.

The accuracy is unbelievable and unlike many other sports games, it seems to follow each shot quickly and fluidly. Comments range from the complementary to the positively insulting. Try waiting too long before taking your shot and his voice changes from the sympathetic "A good golfer puts a great deal of thought into every shot", to the sarcastic "He`s waiting for the wind to die-down, we could be here ALL DAY" or the even more cruel "Very poor shot, looks like he needs a new putter". Some 1500 of these quirks have been recorded, but this still doesn't stop you from hearing the same old comments over and over again.

The usual background sounds of birds singing and water rippling can be heard. They have managed to avoid using samples that don't get on your nerves, unlike PGA 96, who`s seal and seagull noises can drive you insane


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. 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 gimmes, mulligans, putting grids or driving arcs but these options may be altered during the course of play.

After selecting your game type you are thrust off to the course selection screen which disappointingly only offers two courses. I found that after playing a four day competition, I knew where to place the ball on each hole for the perfect shot, but similar to the real game putting the ball there could be easier said than done.

I quite enjoyed the initial challenge of reducing my handicap in a AMA Tour, with the opposition refusing to be a stern test allowing you to get used to the controls. Unfortunately a certain yellow jerseyed opponent constantly stopped the flow of the game by repeatedly missing a simple put. Now we have all let the ball slip by the hole a few times on those seemingly unmissible puts before, but twenty four times borders on the infuriating and I recall on at least three occasions having to reset the game in order to proceed. Bad bug Gremlin. On attaining pro status, the challenge moves up a stage and the computer characters appeared to behave themselves.

Striking of the ball requires the usual accurate pressing of the X button and a sweet connection is rewarded with a perfect shot. The 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 wicked shot.

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 providing an explosion of loose grains scattering across the course. It all works quite well and provides a reasonable 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.

Value for Money

All in all Actua golf provides a challenging impression of the sport. The choice of only two available courses slightly reduces the enjoyment but this is more than made up for with the multiple option of game styles. The courses play quite realistically and the graphics more than match the PGA series, but there is still room for improvement. The commentary team is first class with an added touch of sarcasm which can become quite hurtful when your game is falling apart.





I was a little unsure of the credibility that Actua Golf boasted but apart from the odd problem with opponents taking multiple shots, this turned out to be a thoroughly playable golf game. The competition format is an excellent idea where you cannot enter a Pro Tour until your golfer becomes a scratch player which adds to the lastability of the game. The game plays similar to PGA Golf and includes a similar environment but if I had to choose between the two I would say that the honors were even.











Not enough courses and a few bugs hidden within this game have turned this potential golfing classic into a very average game - I recommend that you wait for Actua Golf 2.








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