Links 2003 w/ Intel-Only Graphics or Intel + Nvidia Graphics - Solution Found
UPDATE: This solution also seems to fix the graphical issues experienced on computers that only have Intel graphics cards. See the Intel-Only Graphics section below.
Links 2003 players often have trouble getting Link 2003 to correctly utilise the Nvidia graphics card in laptops that have both Intel and Nvidia graphics. In my experience, the problem could sometimes be resolved by using the laptop manufacturer's original Nvidia graphics driver. In these cases, updating the Nvidia driver through Windows Update or the Nvidia website would break Links 2003 until the driver was reverted back to the manufacturer's driver. If you were fortunate to have a laptop with a working manufacturer's Nvidia driver, you just had to disable driver updates to enjoy playing Links 2003 on your laptop.
Systems with only Intel graphics have never worked well with Links 2003. Missing shadows and other graphical anomalies made the game mostly unplayable.
Finding A Better Solution
I was fortunate to have a Dell laptop with a functional manufacturer's Nvidia driver in the past, but I recently upgraded to an HP Omen gaming laptop. The HP laptop has an Intel+Nvidia graphics card combo just like the Dell, but Links 2003 could not utilize its Nvidia card, even with the manufacturer's original driver. Through some googling and testing, I believe I have found a solution. At the very least, it's working for me, and I'm hopeful that by passing it on, others can get Links 2003 working on their laptops too.
NOTE: The original URL and even the filename of the zip file are always flagged up by browsers as containing a virus. I have managed to download the zip file and check it with ESET which finds no problems. I have renamed the zip file so that the name itself does not ring alarm bells. HOWEVER, you download and install this at your own risk. Links Corner will accept no responsibilty for any problems caused by this file. You have been warned!
Download: Direct3Dfix - http://andyhope.com/Direct3Dfix.zip (this is not a clickable link - copy and paste it into your browser)
This is a Direct X wrapper made to help older games work with modern computers. Download v2.55 and follow these instructions to get it working with Links 2003:
1. Extract the zip file.
2. From the MS sub-folder, copy the 3 DLLs and paste them into your Links 2003 folder.
a. By default, this is C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Games\Links 2003 on 64-bit versions of Windows.
b. Pro Distance users will want to place the DLLs in C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Games\Links 2003\LinksPD instead.
3. Run dgvoodooCpl.exe to configure the wrapper. Configure the settings on the General and Direct X tabs to match my configuration as shown at https://imgur.com/cDIOBh5.
4. Launch Links 2003 and verify that it says "dgVoodoo Direct X Wrapper" on the bottom of the screen as Links starts up. This ensures that Links is utilising dgVoodoo2.
5. Start a practice round and look at the sky. When Links 2003 is only using the Intel graphics card, the sky is normally plastered with a repeating Links 2003 logo instead of the actual sky. With the dgVoodoo2 Direct X wrapper enabled, the sky should now look normal.
Most experienced Links 2003 players know that Links looks best with anisotropic filtering enabled. Nvidia users are probably aware that this is accomplished by creating a LinksMMIII.exe Nvidia Control Panel profile and forcing anisotropic filtering to 16x. I'm happy to report that dgVoodoo2 will respect your LinksMMIII.exe Nvidia Control Panel profile, so I encourge you to create a LinksMMIII.exe profile with anisotropic filtering set to 16x. I also recommend to set the Power Management Mode on your LinksMMIII.exe profile to Prefer Maximum Performance. In my experience, the swing meter speed will be wildly inconsistent if this setting is not applied.
dgVoodoo2 also has its own 16x anisotropic filtering option as seen here: https://imgur.com/QAIGEMu. Nvidia systems should not use this option, but it seems to work quite well for Intel-only computers and provides crisper textures as it should. However, turning this on does result in some minor artefacts within Links, mostly on the fuzzier lie indicator and the swing meter as seen here: https://imgur.com/H0W2FzV.
1. I've played numerous rounds on my Intel+Nvidia HP laptop with this configuration, and it's been working wonderfully so far. The only issue I've had is that translucent golfer shadows do not display correctly. They seem to disappear into the ground texture. Opaque shadows work just fine. I'm waiting on a response from the dgVoodoo2 creator to see if he has any ideas on how to resolve that.
2. When you make a change to your graphic card configuration (such as turning dgVoodoo2 on or off), Links 2003 will often terminate on the next run. Restarting Links 2003 once or twice should clear that up.
3. With dgVoodoo2 enabled, Links 2003 may sometimes acquire a color tint when you change the resolution. Restarting Links 2003 should restore the color to normal in your newly set resolution.
I happened to have a few laptops with only Intel graphics and dgVoodoo2 seems to have resolved the Links 2003 graphical issues on those too! The laptops had the following CPU and video cards:
Intel HD Graphics + Celeron
Intel HD Graphics + i3
Intel HD Graphics 5500 + i5
The Celeron system was understandably too slow to be happily playable, but looked great graphically. The i5 system wouldn't run Links 2003 with the base Intel driver at all, but worked great with dgVoodoo2 enabled. Here are some screenshots of the different configurations that I tried on all three systems. These are from the i3: Base Intel Driver ----- dgVoodoo2 Enabled ----- dgVoodoo2 Enabled w/ 16x AF
I don't have access to any systems with ATI/AMD graphics cards, but dgVoodoo2 could potentially help with those cards as well.
I wasn't sure I'd ever get Links 2003 working on my new laptop and here I am teeing it up at Augusta with working skies, a smooth swing meter, and 16x anisotropic filtering. I'm hopeful that dgVoodoo2 will allow us to continue playing Links 2003 on modern computers well into the future.