This weekend I was mostly playing..

Albatross 18. For some reason I really really enjoy golf games on computers and consoles. I don’t really know why, I just always enjoy them! From the days before the 8-bit classic of Leaderboard and early PC games of PGA Tour Golf. It was even one of the few activities I can recall sharing with my father – that of playing Jack Nicklaus on my 386, silenty competing against one another as we ignored the failure of our relationship.

Cheery thoughts eh? 🙂 Regardless, Albatross 18 is far more of your Everybody’s Golf / Mario Golf type game than Links or Tiger Woods style simulation. As such, you can expect the overall rules of golf to apply with some added flair and creativity thrown in for entertainment value. You can use items that modify your player’s performance on the next stroke such as increasing the power of their drive by ten percent.

Albatross 18

Performing certain tasks well earns you Pang. For example, if your driver has a range of 230 yards but you drive for 245 yards, you’ll be rewarded some Pang points. Additionally, you earn points for perfect shots (max power, max accuracy) and completing games. Pang points can be spent outside of the gameplay area by kitting out your player with clothes, clubs, items to be used in game (such as performance modifiers) and even different player characters.

The game has a great personality and is thoughtfully designed and laid out. There’s a number of things I really liked about this game that I didn’t seen in other golf games such as Shot Online.

  • Shot Clock – Each player must play their shot within 40 seconds
  • Lie of the green – Really well presented and perfectly understandable. Some golf games really screw this bit up!
  • Control – Nothing’s too complex and you can play the core game using keys if you prefer
  • Music – Spot on! Cute and twee without going into the sugar-rush style of games like Bust a Move
  • Atmosphere – Quietly reserved. There doesn’t appear to be mad rampaging fanboys being assholes. Maybe because it’s not an FPS?
  • You can opt to play 3, 6, 9 or 18 holes which equate to games ranging from 15 minutes to two hours. A nice touch!
  • The game has the most endearingly animated paper bag I’ve ever seen!

The game does have a few quirks however. Firstly, it requires Active X to run. Once you’ve installed the 160mb client app and choose to launch it the game will take you to a browser page where you click on a large “Start Game” graphic. The thing is, due to the need for some Active X component you can’t do this from a non-IE based browser. Clicking the graphic in Firefox did nothing. A minor niggle but a bit of a concern if you don’t know about it. I also found that the program closed my newsgroup reader whenever I ran it – which meant I lost any updates since the last time I’d shut the program down gracefully.

Albatross 18 is in beta and is currently free for all to enjoy. Check out the site and, if you’re on in the evenings, add “Koffdrop” to your buddy list and we can play a few holes.

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