Hot Shots Golf: Open Tee
Hot Shots Golf: Open Tee has been building up some huge buzz, and we're here to see if it can stand up to the pressure!
A few years ago, the folks at Camelot started a little legacy for Sony with the release of Hot Shots Golf for Sony PlayStation, a simple yet truly addictive golf game with cartoonish characters and gameplay so easy to get into yet incredibly hard to master. All ages could approach the game and take away their own personalized experience away from it, either with a fantastic shot they made or just having fun on the miniature golf course.
Since that time, Camelot's stepped off to greener pastures (working on Nintendo's Mario Golf games), but they handed the franchise to the very capable hands of Clap Hanz, a company that's been handling the games since Hot Shots Golf 2. And they've continued to churn out quality sequels in the series, culminating with last year's Hot Shots Golf Fore! for PS2.
Now we come to the handheld equivalent in the series, the long-awaited Hot Shots Golf: Open Tee for the PlayStation Portable, and, like its console brothers before it, it's a respectful and fully enjoyable golf game that'll keep you swinging long into the system's battery life. Like the other games, it lets you choose from a number of available cartoon-like characters and then lets you pick a specific course, and it's off to the links for some quick, hard-driving golf action.
The game contains a few interesting modes, including a couple of single player games such as Challenge, a multiplayer match-up that lets you hook up against a friend in Wi-Fi, and a training mode that teaches you the basics, from the swing timer to being able to aim your shot. The lack of extra modes kind of hurts a little bit, but what's here is still likely to please even the most jaded of golf players, the ones who consider Tiger Woods PGA Tour their own golfing religion.
What makes Hot Shots Golf: Open Tee stand out is how much fun it really is. The gameplay is simple, like the previous chapters before it, but it grows on you and really becomes quite the addiction, as you continue to work on improving your driving and putting game until you become a pro. Challenge Mode allows you to take on some of the better CPU players, and hard-earned victories give you access to even more insane players and courses that add to the longevity.
The game doesn't look as smooth or sound as great as its console brothers, but both of these items still maintain a "good enough" presentation to keep golf fans smiling. The visuals still represent some terrific course design and animation, as well as the little visual effects that indicate when your shot is just spectacular enough to be considered a "nice shot!". And the sound, while mostly minimal, has its fair share of good things with it as well.
If there is a major complaint with Hot Shots Golf: Open Tee, it would fall into two categories - timing and online play. The release of this game after the successful arrival of Tiger Woods may suck away some of its hardcore golfing audience. If this had been a launch title, it would have found its ideal crowd and not been playing catch-up to the PGA pros offering. Also, the lack of full online play hurts, because what if you can't find anyone who is up for a quick Wi-Fi match? Sigh... I guess another Hot Shots Golf will have to give us that golden opportunity.
But otherwise, what we have here is a very capable and fully accessible golf game for all ages and types that will want to keep swinging away at the ball and maintaining the below-par score. Hot Shots Golf: Open Tee may not be the grand champion, but it's still a swell time at the links that no one should miss. Fore!
What's Hot: Great amount of fun, with a fun and vibrant look throughout.
What's Not: Local Wi-Fi play is cool and all, but where's my full online mode?