Green zone victory dances are a long held tradition in golf. When putting, a grid is laid out in front of you, divided into exhilarating squares with action-packed dots in them. The dots' positioning theoretically displays which way the terrain is tilted. Normally this would help you set up your putt, but since the green is as poorly designed as the rest of the course, the land that makes up the green is invariably twisted and warped in ways that would be impossible without the ground ripping apart. Even die hard Albatross fans who have mastered the putting style of the seven-year old girl still struggle once they reach the green. Putting is also known to cause the golfer to keel over and die like Casper because they just spent half a day in freezing temperatures trying to get a score below triple bogey. Unlike Casper the golfer becomes a nightmarish ghoul, feeding on the frozen corpses of golfers who've met a similar ghastly fate.

Making a putt should be celebrated, and since it takes so long to sink one you have a fair amount of time to think up a witty saying to intimidate your opponents. The people who run Albatross18 advertise their game all over the courses, so don't be surprised if a camel wants you to know about the exciting New Guild Forums!

For all these problems, none of them can even compare to the games darkest secret: drug use is rampant in the world of Albatross18! You start out with a fairly sized stash for free, and are able to buy more from a vending machine in the lobby before matches. The game's item shop is in on it too, offering a wide selection of illegal online anime narcotics. This acts as yet another money trap, since the substances you can purchase with the regular currency have a high chance of failing. The good stuff costs a completely different type of currency that you - prepare for the shocker here - have to buy with real money! I bet nobody ever saw that revelation coming down the pipeline! The FBI Director's warning has no power over the players of Albatros18. Winners not only do drugs, they get more drugs in return for winning. These mind altering substances include:

  • A pill that slows down the passage of time.
  • The eye of Sauron. Simply inject right into your eyes before putting and you get a line right to Mount Doom, guiding Frodo and Sam through Mordor safe and sound.
  • A bottle of red liquid that instantly throws your character into 'roid rage. Extended use causes facial hair for female golfers.
  • Banana-shaped yellow flask allowing you to dominate the inner spirits of your golf balls, spinning and bending them to your will.

Once you've freed your mind from the mortal realm and have ascended into the plane of oneness with the green, you will come crashing down the moment you discover the horrible character shop. Here you can buy new golfers and clothes for the ones you already own. It starts out innocent enough with socially acceptable favorites Big Titted American Cow Girl and Sephiroth, but then it grows a little creepy.

In the traditional style of Asian games, the most revealing clothes belong to the youngest characters. If you're a standard internet user then of course you've entered in "female" as your gender, allowing you to show off your 13 year old figure in a bikini. If this isn't young enough for you, Ntreev Soft is already on the case! This is Kooh. From borderline pedophilia and furry to full blown S&M, Kooh wraps up all creepy fetishes into one incredible little box. She ensures that no matter how far away from children the court orders your typical Kooh player to stay, a sexy young girl is just one click away!

Since Albatross18 is the first "free" MMO community I've encountered in this column, I really have nothing to compare it against. Consequently, Albatross18 sets the impeccable golden standard all other communities will be ranked against. To compete in the same league as this shining example of online golfing excellence, your game's message board must contain the following items for a perfect three out of three score. Any game developers reading this should take note, and strongly encourage their player base to shape up into the glorious image that is Albatross'.

I decided to leave the message boards and see how these people were in game. Since I didn't spend any
money on anything, I was stuck with my basic crummy character and clubs. Surely the players would see this and assume I was an easy target and no threat to their perfect anime golf game... but I was wrong. The feeling of being kicked out of a game by a fully grown and probably overweight Brazilian man playing as an almost naked child golfer is something I never quite experienced before.

Tired of being pushed around, I plotted my sinister revenge. My chance came while at the green: one of myA harsh deductio of asterisks await those dishonorable enough to stray from the path. opponents lined up his putt and was starting his swing. Suddenly my cellphone rang, breaking his concentration and any chances of sinking this putt. Although this meant the end of my Albatross18 career, I managed to catch a glimpse at his fallen body while being forced off the course by security. The stunned faces of the onlookers are burned into my memory, as vivid today as they were the day it happened.

I don't know how long or frequently people play normal golfing video games, but Albatross18 will wear your soul down quickly. After about four and a half hours of total play time, watching real golf seemed like a much better idea than Albatross18. Although it is free to play, almost everything to advance your character needs to be bought using real money (surprise!). A very few items can be purchased with in-game coins but they are absurdly priced in the tens of thousands.

The players really hit the nail here, setting the standard of what is needed to be a shining example of a perfect online community. For quests, the only one I could find was an Easter-themed one. It ended months ago, so I have no idea what it involved or any rewards it might have offered. Although you can spend a bunch of money to buy an awesome decked out online anime golfer, and I'm truly convinced that's what people want to dump their cash on, you still need to grind up in rank to use them. Since a six hole game can last nearly an hour and only awards a small fraction of what it takes to gain a rank, Albatross18's painful grind reminds me of Final Fantasy XI. Just replace Mithras with Kooh.

Creepy Factor-9

I'd like to thank the Something Awful Forum Goons for taking time away from arguing about video games on a message board to argue about video games while playing one. I'd also like to invite any readers to our next outing.

– Rob "RobTG" Graf

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