The Great White Shark (Norman’s obligatory silly golfing nickname) has only recently been knocked off his number one spot by Nick Faldo – maybe he should practise a bit more on his own golfing sim!
Up to four human or computer players can participate, in Strokepay or Matchplay, with the option of playing Singles, Fourball, Foursome, or Greensome. The skill level of each computer player is determined by setting five factors: Experience, Stance, Grip, Swing, and Fitness. Up to fifty created players can be stored in a database.
After leaving three of your 17 clubs behind (you are only allowed 14), it is out onto either of two in-built courses (or others from planned course disks). From the first tee you are greeted by a 3-D view, a grid of squares raised and sunk at different angles to form hills and bunkers. Additional hazards are posed by trees and water pools. As the flag is often hidden, a map allows you to view the whole hole – you can even walk to any spot and get a 3-D view from that position.
When you are ready to play the shot, a power meter appears. A power bar rises, stopped by pressing fire. Then, before another falling bar reaches the bottom, you must press fire to stop a swaying direction needle in the middle for a straight shot, or on the marker indicating the amount of sidespin selected on the swing screen. Putting is achieved by aiming an on-screen cursor and selecting power.
Despite the number of options available this is not an excessively fancy game. It is accurate, intelligent and challenging and will prove to be one of the most popular sports sims of the year.