Nicklaus License Lives at Activision

Activision has been anything but idle since it snagged the Jack Nicklaus license from Accolade - here's how the current build plays.

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Activision has been anything but idle since it snagged the Jack Nicklaus license from Accolade and gained the services of Jack Nicklaus developer Hypnos Entertainment. GameSpot saw the most recent build of the next Jack Nicklaus game, now titled Golden Bear Challenge, and it looks very promising. Fans of the venerable series will be pleased with the new features, which include a new 3D-accelerated engine and the ability to now play as Jack Nicklaus.

Both the characters and the backgrounds are now rendered in full 3D, and although the game will support 3D hardware, a 3D accelerator will not be a requirement to play. The players now look more realistic and lifelike. The greater detail also now enables you to play as the Golden Bear himself, whereas in previous versions of Jack Nicklaus golf, you could only play against Jack. Jack Nicklaus had to approve his likeness, so expect his digital avatar to swing and play as he does in real life.

New to this game will be the play-by-play commentary of CBS sportscaster Jim Nantz. There will also be playing tips recorded by Jack Nicklaus himself that you can access during play. If you come up to a particularly difficult shot, you can click on a tip button and get Jack's advice on how he negotiates that particular obstacle. All these tips will also be aggregated into a tips section that can be accessed from the game's main menu. Another addition to the gameplay will be the ability to customize your golfers with skill points. In a nod to RPGs, the game allows you to divvy up points that can improve your shot strength, accuracy, and other attributes. These skill points will accumulate as your handicap shrinks.

As always, Jack Nicklaus will ship with its course editor to prolong gameplay value. The shipping courses will include Shoal Creek, Sherwood Country Club, Sherry Montecastillo, Nicklaus North, Muirfield Country Club, and Cochise Course at Desert Mountain. Look for Jack Nicklaus Presents Golden Bear Challenge sometime in early spring of 1999.

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