Sid Meier´s Sim Golf is a fun little title which challenges you to design, build and run golf courses. There are a variety of locations and building options and you can also play the courses which you have put together which make this budget priced game well worth buying.
To begin with you select a location for your course. You choose from a list of places with different terrain types and generally the more you pay the more land you get to begin with. In any case on the smaller maps more land becomes available when the county commissioner plays your course and approves it, so he has to enjoy his round!
Building is very simple; you select objects, buildings or terrain from a menu at the bottom of the HUD. Then left click to choose and again to place it out on the course. You start each game with a clubhouse and there are a range of buildings to add such as the putting green, driving range, cart garage and so on. Some of the buildings only become available once you satisfy certain criteria and they are generally very pricey.
The terrain types for constructing the holes are all available from the start, allowing you to create devious systems of bunkers and sand traps on the way to the green. The hole only becomes operational when you hit the "h" key and the game shows you the likely route golfers will take so you can perfect each hole before opening it to the public. You can also raise and lower terrain and add water giving you all the tools necessary to create some classic golf holes.
You must run each course at a profit and the development is always staggered as certain building options and expansion require a VIP to play a round and enjoy your course. You must also add amenities for the golfers such as benches, ball washers and staff to maintain the fairways and serve the thirsty people. Golfers love landmarks and each one has some effect on its surroundings, some make the golfers happy, others improve their skills and some just stop dandelions from growing. Beautification is the final touch with a range of colourful flowers and trees to choose from.
While each facet of the game is relatively simple it is the combination of so many wee cute options which makes this really enjoyable. You can click on the clubhouse to see who is waiting for a round and partner people you think will get on. Some of the golfers will play out a story as they move round your course and their speech pops up as text. You can even play tournaments and the TV cameras will turn up and film the action. Sometimes your members upgrade to silver status and you can put out home sites on the course and attract famous celebrities who'll stand around waving at anyone passing.
Actually playing a round of golf on the course is great fun or frustrating depending on how well developed your pro is and how difficult you made the holes. You play as the club pro and you can build up his skills as you get awarded points for reaching certain standards or milestones. The choice of shot is very limited. A line is drawn to show you where the ball will go and you can move it around to pick the best shot while putting is carried out automatically. Although it is pretty basic it is still quite satisfying especially if you are able to take advantage of your designer's knowledge of the course to win.
This is a nice varied building sim which is instantly accessible. It is well designed and most importantly fun, effortlessly eating up the hours as Sid Meier titles tend to do. Fans of the Sid Meier catalogue, sim games or golf should definitely get this and for under a tenner how can you possibly resist?