... and it looks to me as though Sevvy's taken out his trusty pitching wedge ... " "Er yes, Peter, I think you're right, but I wonder if Sevvy is. That's still a fair distance and his lie isn't a happy one. " "On the other hand, Arnold, that pitching wedge has traveled the world and brought the Spanish champion much luck ... nice relaxed stance, good, easy swing .. ;yep I think he's happy with that -
"indeed, Peter, and it's looking good--- "Oh my word-yes! Well, what do you think about that?! Straight in- an absolutely superb shot, hit the stick and dropped straight into the hole!" "My goodness, when was the last time we saw something like that?! Well that has given Lloyd Mangrum something to think about. "
I normally associate golf with total boredom, bad American Express adverts and highly coloured twenty-two inch bellends, and golf games with horror. So the last thing I expected when somebody mentioned the feared words 'golf simulation' was a highly and instantly playable arcade golf game which I constantly returned to 'just for another go'. Leader Board is incredibly easy to get into and no knowledge of golf is needed, and even if you do get stuck the informative manual helps you choose the right sort of clubs etc. Graphically the game is superb ---the animation on the golfer is stunning with incredible realism. The sound is great too, no music but amazingly accurate spot FX. Even if you don't like golf look at this sports simulation of the year, you'll be amazed.
|However, Lloyd Mangrum (no relation) needn't have worried -- on another occasion altogether, he scored one of the most amazing holes in one ever recorded. None of which has much to do with this new golfing simulation other than the shared excitement of achieving a hole in one, for Leader Board actually lets up to four armchair golfers play a 3D game from the golfer's point of view in a manner realistic enough to have everyone inventing typical Peter Alliss style commentaries to accompany play.|
| IN THE CADDY BAG
Leader Board is an American program, and no self-respecting Stateside golfer would dream of perambulating round the course without a richly supportive bag of clubs. None of your municipal course six club selection here, there are no less than 14 available; woods 1, 3 and 5, irons 1, through 9, a 'pitching wedge' and the putter. Each club has it's own range and the booklet helpfully lists the minimum and maximum length in yards that each club can ideally achieve. This is useful in conjunction with the on-screen distance indicator in judging which club to select for a particular stroke. It's to be noted, too, that higher number irons tend to have a higher trajectory available and a ball landing from a more vertical angle rolls less on landing. Leaderboard reflects this quite accurately, allowing a greater flexibility in shot positioning,
|There can't be many people who don't have some knowledge of golf, but the wryly brief introductory paragraph in
the accompanying instruction booklet is as good a description as any! Object of the game , it says, is
to sink the ball into each hole by hitting the ball with a club the least number of times possible . As far
as it goes this may be an accurate description, but there's a lot more to golf than that, and there's a lot more
to Leader Board.
A selection of four different courses of varying difficulty (all of 18 holes) is on offer, based on the 'landscaped water course' notion more popular in America than in Britain. Thus there are no bunkers to contend with, but you find yourself coping with some very tricky drives over lakes, sometimes having to land on small mid-way islands in order to reach the green. Provision is made for difficulty levels by introducing effects such as wind and tightening up the accuracy required on club control during shots. When more than one player takes part, each player can select an individual skill level irrespective of what the other players choose, thus introducing the enact of 'handicaps'
What do you see on screen? Well for a start off, there's no 'map' option to show where you are, because there's no need for one. The booklet contains a map of each hole with its par and distance in traditional yards. This information is repeated on the screen, which is divided vertically into a full height square on the left for the action, and a quarter strip on the right with the telltales. Here we find the hole number being played, its par and the course. Below is the score indicator. The pre-entered name of the player whose turn it is heads four lines, one for each of the players. The number of strokes taken by each player on the hole so far is shown together with how much under or over par they are. Beneath this is the wind indicator, then comes the club selection line, the distance to the flag (in yards) and finally the power and 'snap' indicator (see separate panel).
Let's face it, golf simulations have mostly been more worthy in their aims then in their execution, Nick Faldo's being the best to date. Leader Board changes that dramatically end for the first time you can play a golf simulation that approaches the real thing. I'm only surprised it has taken so long fore someone to look at golf through the golfer's eyes, so to speak, rather then offer plan views. The feel you get from a shot, judging the degree of arm swing needed to send the ball on its way, and then watching its flight through the air and its shadow on the fairway, makes this not only a game of skill but also of excitement. There's a real sense of triumph when you watch the ball land just where you intended it to. The perspective views and real spatial geography of the courses are splendid. the sound, too, is tremendous because it is so spot on. I can only hope that Access and US Gold will turn their attentions soon to a 'links' style British course with bunkers!
Its qualities and its single and multi-player options make Leader Board a great game for everyone.
|The angle of play isn't exactly from player's point of view, more from above his shoulder, showing (from the tee) the entire hole disappearing away in perspective to the green. Once a club has been selected you use the joystick to move a cursor left or right for aim and pressing fire animates the golfer. Up to a critical point the longer you hold fire, the greater the arm swing and therefore the greater the strength of the shot. You see the ball fly away, also in detailed perspective, its shadow trailing along the ground, until it lands in the distance, bouncing variously according to height of trajectory, wind strength or lie of the fairway or green. If you land in mud, water or go out of bounds, the stroke has to be retaken, losing you a point.|
|DISK OR CASSETTE AND WHEN
For once here's a sports simulation that both disk and tape owners can enjoy equally. We reviewed the disk version and noted that no disk access was needed required during the game at all, at which point US Gold confirmed that the cassette version had been completed and was a single load. So the only advantage for disk owners is the initial loading time. The disk version comes complete with a protection dongle that must be plugged into the cassette port before loading can take place, the cassette version does not. Leader board will be released on the 4th of July - suitably American independence day.
Once a stroke is completed, the screen redraws the landscape to present you with the view of the green from your new position, and the distance indicator changes to show how far from the nag (or 'pin') you now are. On the green, the putter is selected for you automatically -- no taking out huge 'divots' on these pristine putting surfaces with anything as crude as a 3 iron! The distance indicator switches to feet so you can assess the strength needed for the stroke, the flag Is removed and you judge the lie of the land from the slope indicator (see separate panel). In keeping with the overall realism of this simulation, putting on a bad slope causes the bail to curve quite strongly as it heads hopefully for the hole. As with drives, putting direction is cursor controlled
|After each player has holed out, the scene cuts to the leader board which shows the state of play to date. There is no option to play any hole you like, but selecting more than one course at the outset allows you to play the courses in any order, or even repeat one.|
Good sensible and comprehensive documentation. Plenty of useful options and it looks good on the screen,
Although the backdrops are generally simple , tremendously realistic animation and perspective set the game apart visually.
Despite the scarcity of the sound, the rating reflects the superb accuracy of the spot FX.
Couldn't be easier to get into and everything about the game grabs you from the word go.
72 holes to play and varying difficulty levels should keep you tied to the screen for a long while. Leader Board makes computer golf really addictive for the first time.
Value for Money 96%
As cheap as two rounds at your local municipal course.
A finely polished sports game likely to appeal even to those who don't consider themselves sports fans.
|Note : This article was originally on Alex's "Brigadoon - Zzap!64 Online" site, which has closed down while he's gone on a world trip and eventually planning to live and work in Dublin, Ireland. According to his farewell message on his site he gives premission to grab and download any pages of use. I contacted him directly to request permission to actually use those pages on this site and he agreed. His site will be offline (for at least a while) and these articles shouldn't be lost. Should he request it or his site comes back at a later stage, I'll delete these related files.|