Merely playing and winning isn’t enough for the video sports game enthusiasts I know. They want to dominate as soon as they pull the game out of the box.While golf is a game known for its quiet geniality, it’s a lot easier to be genial when playing Links 2004 on Xbox Live if you’ve just thoroughly whipped your rivals.
If you’ve played Links extensively (on the PC or Xbox) or you don’t intend to play the game on Xbox Live, then you should read no further. This article is for people who have no more than a casual knowledge of Links 2004, or video golf in general, AND want to play the game at a high level on Xbox Live.
I’m going to lay out a path that will put you in a position to compete on Xbox Live quickly. I’m not promising an easy trail to greatness. There will be moments when you will struggle, but if you follow my suggestions and apply yourself (pronounced practice), you will be crushing drives and draining putts with the best of them in short order.
OK, newbies: Pay attention!
We’ll start with the game’s opening menu. You’ll notice there are seven choices, including three modes of game play: Single Round, Career, and Challenges.
Single Round games can be played by one to four human players. You can use a player you create. or one based on a star of professional golf (like Sergio Garcia, Annika Sorenstam, and Mike Weir). Career mode allows you to create a player profile and then build up your player’s skills as you advance through the game. This profile is one you will use when competing on Xbox Live. The Challenges test your skills in specialized areas and give you the means of earning additional money that can be used to increase your skill points.
You are free to wander around the game on your own and forge your own route to success. But if you are the least bit impatient and want to be competitive NOW, here are my top four suggestions for quickly getting a handle on Links 2004:
– Start off with one of the highly-skilled player profiles that shipped with the game and play several rounds of Stroke Play in Single Game mode.
This will give you a feel for how the game can be played when the player profile has an abundance of skill points. You should play the game at the Beginner level, where you will have all of the swing aids the game allows (the most helpful of these is the line on the swing meter that tells you how hard to swing the club).
– Make liberal use of the Mulligans while learning the game.
Mulligans are do-overs which allow you to avoid the consequences of poorly hit shots. Advanced players never use them, but they are helpful for beginners because they will keep you from getting frustrated and losing interest in the game. I believe in using Mulligans liberally when starting out, or if you are practicing certain new techniques.
– Experiment with the different player levels (Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced), then select one to perfect in Career mode.
I suggest trying all three levels to see which one suits your temperament and goals. Then pick one profile and stick with it. Why? Because when you play on Xbox Live, you have to play with a user-created profile. If you create and train a Beginner player profile, you will have to start from scratch when you move to an Intermediate or Advanced player profile. None of the attribute points earned as a Beginner carry over to the higher levels. I tried all three and made a Goldilocks choice – Intermediate (Beginner became too easy after I played for awhile, and Advanced, which doesn’t let you use the Swing Meter at all, was too hard for me).
– Make sure you know how it feels to hit the ball straight.
When you become more familiar with the game, you will want to hit shots that move left-to-right or right-to-left when appropriate (to go around an obstacle or fight the wind). When you are starting out, you will hit shots that draw (move to the left) and fade (sail to the right) unintentionally. To hit the ball straight, you must move the left thumbstick in a straight line. If your motion is offline, your shot will go offline. A lot of times I watch the movement of my thumb, not the screen, to ensure I’m not making a swing that sends the ball off my target. You need to develop a feel for the straight shot before you can perfect the advanced swings that produce spin.
The things I’ve suggested are based on my own experiences, which may not apply to you. It’s your call whether to use them or not. But if you don’t, you just may spend as much time hitting from the trees and the sandpits as I did when I was a beginner!