Microsoft has had a steady golf series running on the PC that was the Links series. Consisting of a solid golf simulation, Microsoft saw the opportunity to take their Links title off the PC market and place it in their XSN Sports label on the Xbox. The transition from Pc to Xbox has been a decent one and the potential for the Links series on the Xbox is definitely evident.
Links has always been a dominating golf title on the PC, known for being a pretty solid simulation that has been on top for quite some time. The transition from PC to console golf games is not an easy one, as you must now convert the pc controls (keyboard and mouse), to the Xbox controller, which is not an easy task for a golf title.
The golfing world has been taken over in both the video game sense and the sport itself by Tiger Woods. On the course and on the consoles Tiger has been tearing it up with solid performances. The game has been improving greatly over the past few years and the gameplay has really redefined the golfing genre for gaming. Microsoft has taken some notes from Tiger Woods and implemented it into this version of Links, and has also added their own spin to the genre.
Links 2004 consists of a good solid single and multiplayer selection of game modes that really do wonders for the game. The single player mode consists of the single round mode and a career mode. At the start of the career mode is a tutorial mode, which will give you the basics of the game itself. The multiplayer consists of the single round, System Link, and Xbox Live/XSN Sports support. This I will go in more detail later on in the review.
To start with, the career mode of Links 2004 is a mode that I actually enjoyed quite a bit and did a nice solid job for the first time out on the Xbox. You go through different rankings from being a rookie all the way to the top by completing specific tasks (such as tournament’s and mastering certain skills). The mode is not overly short and will keep you busy for quite some time. The mode also does a nice job of mixing things up throughout by changing the course locations around quite a bit throughout the mode.
The Xbox Live support is by far the best thing that has happened to the series, and it work wonders for the game. The games on Live are almost always without lag, and are quite competitive. Combine some great games with XSN Sports support and you have a game that could really become quite popular online.
When it all comes down to it, what separates the great golf games from the good one is the gameplay itself, and Links does show a lot of promise. Links takes a page from Tigers book by using the Analog Swing which has its own little quirks to it to make it it’s own. To get right down to it this system is a lot easier then Tiger and makes the game a lot easier. It’s actually quite difficult to botch up a shot like in the Tiger Woods titles but instead you will find that you will be attacking the pin hole after hole. The game is actually one that you can get under par on almost every hole and very rarely get anything higher then a par. The putting in Links is also quite easy and leaves for a lack of a challenge. After you have played the game for a good hour or so you should have the putting system of Links down to a science and should be able to one putt your way through tournaments.
For the most part Links 2004 feels like Tiger Woods and although this isn’t a bad thing I would have liked to seen some more differences between the two. Link’s gameplay does show a lot of promise and is definitely on the right track. This year though it’s just not as polished as the Tiger Woods series, therefore it still has some room to grow.
The Tiger Woods game does do a lot of things right and the graphics is definitely part of that. When you compare Links face to face with the Tiger series you will find that Links still has a long road ahead of them to catch up but Links does show that it can create a pretty good looking interpretation of the game of golf.
The character models in Links 2004 are what I would consider standard character models for sports titles. There is some detail but not a ton of it, which is keeping the game back from getting to the next level. The courses of Links 2004 are actually the best part of the game’s graphics and I believe that they look in many ways better then the Tiger series. There is actually a good amount of detail and the courses really do a nice job of recreating the real life courses.
Overall the graphics of Links 2004 still have some room for improvement but do a nice job of creating an average looking golf game that most won’t complain about, but neither raves about either.
Links 2004 in many ways feels a little more arcade like then the Tiger series, and in many ways I have had more fun with Links then I have had with the Tiger Woods series. The Live support is a big plus for the game and the career mode was also quite impressive. When you combine those two key elements with pretty good gameplay you have a game that most will have a lot of fun with, including myself.
Links 2004 is a solid golfing title that I predict will catch up (and maybe overthrow) the Tiger Woods series next year. The game shows a lot of promise, and for those looking for an Online Golf title look no further then Links 2004, it will be sure to get the job done.
The owner and editor-in-chief of Darkstation.com. I've been apart of the website since 2002 and purchased the website in 2010. Owning and running Darkstation is a dream come true. I love video games and I love writing and talking about them even more.