It's more often than not that a sports game fails to live up to gamers' expectations, and with just cause. Sports games have the unenviable task of re-creating rule-for-rule, play-by-play the exact environment of the game of its choice, whether it be football, baseball, hockey, etc. It's hard to capture the feel of being there along with all the excitement of playing the real thing. Additionally, most sports fanatics want all the bells and whistles as well: stats, create-a-player (so armchair athletes can "live it"), realistically rendered stadiums, great graphics. Needless to say, there's a large number of itches that need to be scratched by any developer attempting to take on a sports game. Anything less will be viewed upon with derision and greeted by even less success in the way of sales. Apparently Fox Sports and developer Gremlin are willing to live with derisive remarks and poor sales because Fox Sports Golf '99 is perhaps the worst of all the weak golf games that litter the fairway.
Although it's extremely tempting to simply cut to the chase and do a rundown of why this game stinks so bad, we'll spare the rod for a few moments and give the game's features a once-over. Upon opening either the woefully inefficient game manual or the equally pathetic in-game menu, you'll (possibly) discover the variety of options at your disposal. As with most golf games, Fox Sports Golf '99 lets you, and three of your buddies, simultaneously punish yourselves via a multitap. For armchair golfers who need a few warm-up swings to get the hang of the game, there's the obligatory practice mode. Other mandatory "options" such as stroke play, match play, and skins also make their way into your living room. For gamers itching for a taste of the "real thing," an AMA (amateur) Tour and Pro Tour await those skilled enough to master the game. Other interactive features such as the create-a-player (called Golfer Set-Up here) mode are included, although you are only allowed to pick your golfers clothes, appearance, and name. Unfortunately, most gamers would probably like to affect other attributes like swing power and shot accuracy, but these are not available here.
Unlike that othergolf game, Hot Shots Golf, Fox Sports Golf '99 will likely only appeal to more serious golfers - the kind of gamer who has golf sims for his or her PC. In light of this, one would assume that the gamer who picks up this title really knows the game of golf and can honestly enjoy the fruits of a well-done golf game. Accepting that, it can be reasoned that those who do buy this game are going to be returning it the next day or even sooner, after discovering the horror that will unfold before them. Let's explore.
Upon navigating the horribly frightful (read: ugly) interface, let's say you start up a match. Any old match will do: practice, match play, whatever. Once you've forged your way to actual game time, this is where the game's many faults begin to reveal themselves. The first question you'll ask yourself is "What the hell do I do?" After referring to the completely graphics-free manual, you'll ascertain that you'll need to hit the X button at some point. Upon hitting the X button, you'll soon find yourself at a complete loss as to what to do next. As you experience your first muffed shot, you'll scramble back to that well-hidden page in the manual where it describes the shot-taking process, which we offer for your inspection: "To take a shot, press the X button and release. The power indicator will rise towards the Caddie Line. Press the X button again when it reaches the Caddie Line on the Swingometer. When the Caddie Line has been reached, the power will drop towards the Snap Lines on the Swingometer. If the Player presses the X button after the power indicator passes the middle Snap Line, the ball will be...." Whatever. Now, to some, this may sound perfectly logical. Sure it is, it's perfectly logical if you don't actually have to play the game. One look at the "Swingometer" and you'll realize that, while it may be a pretty impressive-looking Swingometer, it's designed in a way that you won't know when to press the X button. It's a multicolored affair with lots of fancy-looking lines embedded in the thing, and you'll pull your hair out trying to figure out which exactly are the Snap Lines. After wrestling with that little conundrum you'll then have a shot at figuring out which one is the Caddie Line. In fact, there's no diagram of the Swingometer in the artless manual to help you sort out what is what. What the creators fail to realize is that most golfers don't have a giant, virtual Swingometer hovering over their heads in real life. Therefore, trying to figure out where exactly the Snap and Caddie lines are placed, is nothing more than random stabs at the controller. Thanks loads. Supporting this most frustrating of endeavors are the pair of monkeys (Fox Sports Net's John Walls or the "world-renowned" Peter Aliss) that continually ridicule you for your uninspired performance by making statements such as "That was a horrible shot" or "What was he thinking?" Shut up! Considering that all this is experienced within the first five minutes of the game only serves to expedite the trip back to the software store.
Sure, during gameplay, the usual factors, like weather effects, course design, and natural golf hazards (sand traps, water, etc.) all contribute to increasing the level of challenge, but perhaps the greatest obstacle of all in Fox Sports Golf '99 is the graphics. To describe the game as ugly would be a disservice to all the ugly games already out there. This game has no excuses. How challenging can it be to create a nice-looking golf game? Fox Sports Golf '99 features a police lineup of criminal activity: choppy frame rates, horribly pixelated background details (trees look like old Atari 2600 trees), fully polygonal but fully ugly characters with little to no personality, bland first-generation-quality textures, and slow, slow gameplay. In its own special way, this game makes you want to hurl.
So, at the risk of sounding a little too passionate about a golf game, Fox Sports Golf '99 is painfully bad. A confusing and ugly interface combined with a confusing and ugly game does not a success make. In fact it doesn't even rank as a failure, because that would imply that something was being done right. Not here. This game is all wrong, and for a sports game, that is the greatest of all sins. Avoid with extreme prejudice.