Golfers do it in conditions that most of us fog-, rain- and storm-fearing mortals usually prefer to avoid. Golfers, however, are so dedicated to achieving that elusive hole-in-one, that they're prepared to walk around some exposed spot carting a load of sticks which they then use to hit hard white spheres into holes. Or that's the theory. Chances are that the ball actually ends up in a conveniently-placed sandbank, the rouh or some water, and they have to spend hours fiddling about hunting for the ball getting wet feed and increasingly bad-tempered.
This is the exciting game Ultimate Golf simulates, but it has the distinct advantage that you don't have to move away from the comfort of your ST. You control Greg Norman if you're playing on your own - or you can play with up to three mates as yourselves or taking the parts of other celebrity golfers. If you don't have that many willing friends, your ST happily provides some, so you don't feel too disadvantaged. The aim of the game is the same as in real golf - to hit the ball into the 36 holes, played over two courses - using as few strokes as possible.
The advantage of Ultimate Golf is that you can choose the weather you want - how strong you want the wind to be, and the force of the driving rain, for example. Choose the club you want to use - or yuo can leave that to the long and hard-thinking caddy, so at least you have someone to blame when it all goes horribly wrong.
And you know when it has, since your ST splashes "DISASTER" unequivocally over the screen if you're slightly over par. It sure expects you to play well - and that's actually pretty tough for you need quick reactions if the ball is to go in a straight line and therefore not totally mess up all the careful planning and weather control you've been doing.
You see, you work out how hard you want to hit the ball - up to 112.5% the average distance of specific club you've chosen, and indicate that by holding down the mouse button until the required power is achieved. You then have a very limited time to line up your shot by pressing Fire when two needles coincide. If they don't line up - and it's near-impossible to get them to - your ball veers off in completely the wrong direction.
Of course, this all adds to the number of strokes you need to get the ball in the right place. It's a relief when you get to the green and just putt, since direction suddenly becomes immaterial - you automatically hit straight.
There's a practice mode, so all need not be lost - and you won't lose face every time you want to play a real game. If you do totally mess things up by getting too intimately involved with the water hazards, you can always replay the shot, although it's fun to use the power to walk on water you magially acquire.
The graphics are well-drawn and the course so green you almost feel as if you've been in the country after a couple of holes. When you hit the ball you hear a satisfying "knock" - and that's it for sound effects. All in all, Ultimate Golf's an interesting challenge with plenty of variations to experiment with. Even if you think you have no interest in golf at all, you could do worse than trying this for some exercise.
- Needs a bit of brain power to beat the competition, and quick reflexes with the mouse.
- Very green scenery with some good views.