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[Review] Textfire Golf

by Emily Short

Posted 11 January 2001 to

Textfire Golf.

I have NO interest in golf, I tend to avoid z-abuses, and I'm in the midst of two major works in progress. I don't have TIME to play new IF.

But this is a Textfire game. That name means quality. So I downloaded it anyway, and of course it proved to be a hell of a lot of fun.

Let me explain. Real life golf, I've been told, isn't just about the skill. It's about the atmosphere. Spending some time in the great outdoors, with your pals.

Analogously, this isn't just a game about hitting a ball. Yes, it's z-abuse, and at the core of the gameplay is arcade-style stuff based on reflex and nerve. I don't possess either of those qualities in great abundance. Fortunately, the sting of this disadvantage is reduced by the fact that a) the golf plays in Textfire Golf rely as much on a little simple calculation as they do on timing and b) >UNDO has not been removed. UNDO is yor frend. Move over, Tiger Woods: even I get some good shots sometimes. And I have a $70 Time Machine.

Arguably the game wasn't designed to be played that way, though -- the hazard locations are as colorful as the fairways (perhaps more so). It's good to be able to win if you want to, but being snarkily insulted by your opponents is also rather amusing.

Ah yes, the opponents.

The NPCs work for one of the classic reasons: your interactions with them are carefully restricted. They don't respond to conversational gambits. The only significant way you have to communicate with them, to impress them or make them angry, is through your golfing behavior. At the real heart of this game is the negotiation of your social position, which is, to people like me, far more interesting than the problem of moving a little round ball over uneven ground.[1] Given that point, they have a satisfying range of responses. Let's hear it for multiple endings.

Meanwhile, the setting. It's pretty; it's also described with that rare combination of realism and comprehensibility and humor required to make me both understand and take an interest in the complexities of a golf course. I don't know that this is going to make me rush out to play real life golf any time soon, but I don't think it's unreasonable to say that I learned something. This is a showcase piece in the simulationist IF camp: take a complicated system with involving subtle problems, then teach the player how the general rules work and leave it up to him to resolve them.

To sum up, then. All the charm we've come to expect from Textfire, interesting simulation, fun NPCs, wryly characterized PC, and a soupcon of arcade-y goodness -- Textfire Golf is entertaining and eminently replayable.

[1] But who would really

This article copyright © 2001, Emily Short

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