Hot Shots Golf: World Invitational Review (PS3)
Hot Shots Golf: World Invitational dropped onto the PlayStation Network last week, after a relatively warm reception on the Vita back in the Spring. Despite being relatively unchanged, the PS3 offers some nice options for players who didn’t have the ability or desire to play the portable version.
If you played the Vita version, or nearly any of the previous Hot Shot games, you’ll know what to expect. Similar to Power Pros Baseball, Hot Shots is a pretty realistic game wrapped in a cartoony (and heavily Japanese) facade. This look can often betray the complexity of the game, but trust that all of the intricacies of golf are present: inclines, wind, turf types, various shots, clubs, etc.
Fitting the look are the controls, which remain as simple as possible. Three control methods (plus Move, more on that in a bit) hearken back to the earliest PC golf games--three clicks to set power and accuracy. The games eschews all of the analog fanciness established by the Tiger Woods series.
In fact, it’s easy to get into the habit of mindlessly clicking, but doing so will certainly deny you success. At its core, this is a challenging golf game, especially as you advance into the deeper stages of the game. Each shot needs to be carefully adjusted and executed. On screen indicators help you determine what went right or wrong; putting can be extremely touchy. Like real golf, practice remains important in the off-beat world of Hot Shots.
Regarding Move functionality, it is present and it is indeed functional. However, it makes a challenging game moreso--putting for me became an exercise in frustration. That said, it was no worse than any other Move golf game I’ve played--I just think the simplicity of the controller fits this game so much better.
I have not played the Vita version first hand, so I can’t say that the graphics are a giant improvement. Certainly, the characters and animations are top-notch; there is a certain fluidity found in the figures that’s not quite matched by the more “sim” golf games available. The atmosphere and courses looks really good, as well...at least from a distance.
Up close, there are some pretty flat-looking textures and objects. Wildlife and trees often look very polygonal; animal movement is pretty basic and stiff.
Still, that’s auxiliary stuff; the golf portions of this game look pretty good. At no time did I think I was playing an upscaled Vita game.
Mode-wise, much remains unchanged from the Vita version: Championship, Stroke, and Training. Championship is a ladder-like campaign mode, Stroke play is the more focused “pure” golf experience, and training is training.
You do get a few more courses than in the Vita version, as well as two new characters. Each course is mirrored, maximizing variety.
There is a ton of stuff to unlock, but, unfortunately, some of the top end stuff is locked behind a DLC pay-wall. This is frustrating, as it doesn't seem to be optional "add-on" gear as much as stuff you should earn for finishing the game.
The online modes from the Vita make it here as well, including the Daily tournaments. Surprisingly, these feature cross-platform play, thereby increasing the number of participants. Be prepared though: there are some killer Hot Shot players out there!
There is also a lobby features, that reminds me of old visual chat programs. Create an avatar, run around, kick a soccer ball, let out visual emoticons--maybe even find some partners for a game of golf!
As long as these modes remain active, the online component adds a lot of value to the game.
This is a quick-playing, deep, and challenging golf game that just happens to look like some kind of Japanese cartoon. It’s fun, looks good, and is surprisingly addictive.
That said, know that part of the appeal is the unlocking of goods. This isn’t a golf-sim with a traditional career mode and stat boosts. Instead, you’ll use pre-made characters that you can dress and equip in various ways--then take them into pretty vanilla golf modes.
The fact that this game is $20 should also be considered. That’s significantly cheaper than most retail games; yet the inclusion of paid DLC sours the value a bit. I think the sweet spot for this game would have been $15 with paid DLC (or $20 complete).
For your money, though, you are getting a good game of golf with plenty to unlock and a great online component.
Graphics: A nice, bright looking game with a few rough spots. Character animation and ball movement are great.
Sound: Definitely a Japanese game, with that relaxing psuedo-jazz in the background.
Controls: Nice and simple. Move is ok, but not my preferred method.
Learning Curve: The game is challenging to master, but easy enough to pick up.
Entertainment Value: If you own the Vita version, I can’t see a reason to buy this. However, if you like golf and unlocking stuff, you’ll get your money’s worth.