Game Review - by James Allen
Following in the tradition of the explosion of knock-off tycoon games, we have Golf Resort Tycoon, where you can design your own golf holes, and the services that surround them. There haven't been any games exactly like this: we've mostly seen strictly design programs, either as stand alone games or bundled with golf simulations. Golf Resort Tycoon takes a variation on the theme of designing and maintaining a specific feature of America. Will Golf Resort Tycoon get a hole in one, or splash down in the lateral water hazard?
Golf Resort Tycoon maintains the time honored tradition of bare bones features in value priced games. There are no more than a half dozen different landscapes upon which you can design your courses, and there isn't a random terrain generator, a must in any game such as this. There are several different challenges you can undertake (which involve the same exact landscape, and all start at the same point), or engage in a sandbox mode, where you are free to do as you please. Indeed, the number of individual structures are somewhat numerous, but you'll quickly form into the hole that many RTSs fall into: building the same buildings in the same order each time you play. Once you play Golf Resort Tycoon once through, you'll be playing the game the same exact way every time. Golf Resort Tycoon does not offer enough diversity in its features, even for a budget game.
The sound is acceptable in Golf Resort Tycoon. You can hear the four or five reactions of the golfers around the course, the explosions from the gopher eliminators, and the seemingly random spurts of mowing. It's enough to give the impression that this COULD be a living, breathing world, but there isn't enough environmental effects to present a believable golf resort.
As stated before, the gameplay in Golf Resort Tycoon is repetitious, and it doesn't give you the freedom to design your courses that is needed to support repeated plays. Before I blast the editor, let's talk about the other aspects of the gameplay. If you've played RollerCoaster Tycoon (and if you're reading this review, you probably have), you notice a familiar menu system, complete with the same style of information presentation that was found in said game. You can get financial information, the thoughts of the golfers, and so on and so forth. Everything you've seen before, and better implemented I might add. And this pest controllers blast the gophers with dynamite, the inspiration of which is obvious. This is cute the first time you see it, and sadly is the most original aspect of Golf Resort Tycoon.
The sorriest aspect of Golf Resort Tycoon is its most touted feature: the design element. The developers opted to go the simplistic route, and unfortunately went too uncomplicated to make any of the holes believable. I have designed several courses with the editor that comes with PGA Championship Golf 2000, and it's a cumbersome operation, especially if you want to make beautiful links. I was hoping that Golf Resort Tycoon would fill in that gap, but it does not. First off, all the holes of each respective par are the same exact length. For example, all the par fours consist of placing a tee, placing a fairway point, placing another fairway point, then placing the hole, all of which add up to the same length every time. In addition, the green for each hole is determined by random, so you have no control over that. Secondly, the hazard placement is also too simplistic. All of your sand traps and water hazards must be inside the fairways, and are plopped down with some uneven results. This means that you cannot design a course which surrounds a large lake, or even a lake that comes in contact with two holes. To top it all off, I've seen golfers hit their shots from INSIDE THE WATER HAZARDS. The end result: bunkers and water hazards are just cosmetic, and have no bearing on the overall difficulty of the hole. The feature I was looking most forward too let me down the most.
The graphics are presented in the classic isometric view that is so common in games today. Everything is rendered in 2D/3D, where everything seems to be in 2D sprites in building mode, however we delve into the 3D world when we view from an object on the course. My biggest beef with the graphics in Golf Resort Tycoon (and its too close companion Ski Resort Tycoon) is the amount of slowdown while viewing in 3D. Now, my computer handles games such as NASCAR Racing 4 (which has high quality graphics) close to the maximum detail level with ease. Why, then, can I only view Golf Resort Tycoon with maximum fog, without submitting myself to two frames per second? It seems the graphics people made a model which worked, but didn't bother to make it fast. And, the 3D graphics aren't even that good, and pale in comparison to those found in similar games. The poor 3D engine in Golf Resort Tycoon tarnishes any illustrious views of your course.
Everything in Golf Resort Tycoon has been done better in other games. If you're going to design a game which so obviously smacks of the competition, you better make some more innovations than blowing up gophers. If you really want to design golf courses, pick up one of the golf sims (I suggest PGA Championship Golf 2000) and have at it. Just don't look to Golf Resort Tycoon; let the gophers have their day.