Hot Shots Golf – Open Tee for the PSP is Sony’s first edition for a handheld to their long running Hot Shots series. With over 250 unlockable items and many unlockable characters, it has enough to keep the casual gamer occupied and the more hardcore golfer satisfied. I knew little or nothing about golf when I picked it up, and I was able to play this game well within 15 minutes or so.
The graphics for Open Tee are incredible. The course layouts are gorgeous. As you progress, the courses change. Everything from the Swiss Alps to Japan in the Fall. The characters all have different animations, dependent upon if they pull off a successful Eagle, Chip In Birdie, or Hole in One. The PSP’s potential is put to good use here.
Gameplay for Hot Shots is very intuitive. The learning curve is slight, and you will be chipping away with the pros in no time. The Multiplayer LAN option for the PSP adds to the longevity of the game. You can hook up with up to eight friends challenges on the links, for 18 hole games or putting challenges. You can also tweak the options to make the game more challenging, such as a sand trap counting for more than one stroke.
One minor bone of contention is that the caddies do not always pick the best club for the job. So if you’re golf challenged such as me, you may find yourself overshooting the green by 40 ft. The caddies also give advice, which is stating the obvious in most cases, such as “go for a birdie!” Uh, yeah I might want to go for a bogey-..
The controls couldn’t be more simple or intuitive. The shots consist of either three button presses (manual impact) or two (auto impact.) The shot directory is chosen by the D-pad. You compete in either Tournament matches or VS. matches to obtain items, clubs, balls, unlock new courses, gain medals, and improve rank. You can realistically make your character look any way you want. Also, you can improve upon your favorite characters weak points with the proper attire, ball, and club. Also, it is to your advantage to trounce your opponent in a vs. match early, three wins and its over!
The game also rewards you for using the same character repeatedly with “loyalty points”, which result in increased stats. Another minor complaint regards the inconsistency of character appearance in the vs. matches. The clothes you can unlock are either for guys or girls. The character you compete against in the matches is wearing the item you can unlock. At times, when you’re trying to unlock an outfit for a female character, you will face a character with male face, named Kiyo, wearing a tank and mini, with breasts. Not game killing mind you, just creepy.
However I’m certainly glad the Japanese character models were retained in Open Tee, so we’re not treated to the fugly character models found in Hot Shots Golf 3. The game also records your best shots, so you can show that Chip-In Eagle to all of your doubting Thomas friends over and over. A training mode is available so that you can practice, without stroke penalty, the tough putts on some of the more difficult greens. The AI is not cheap, in only one instance did I encounter a character that normally stinks up the place with his putting ability, become a putting god in the end of a particular tournament.
The music changes dependent upon the course, all catchy non cloying tunes. They can be turned on or off. The sound effects are realistic, from the sound of the club hitting the ball to the sound of the ball whizzing through tree tops (a sound I unfortunately heard more than once.) The characters all have unique voices; they comment when you make a good shot, a lousy shot, and when other players do the same.
Hot Shots Golf-Open Tee is a fun, addictive game, particularly if you want to game for a little while and you don’t have time for a full FPS level or to plug away with your favorite RPG for 3 hours. I can finish an 9 hole match in under 10 minutes. Would I recommend you dash out and buy a PSP to own Open Tee? No. However if you already own a PSP, you’re tired of watching movies and want a fun, game, I would definitely recommend it.