Game: Hot Shots Golf: Open Tee 2
Genre: Sports – Golf
Ever since Hot Shots Golf: Out of Bounds was released on the PS3 earlier this year, I have been completely hooked. Even though the series has been around since the days of the first PlayStation, I had avoided it for years simply because I don’t like golf. With Hot Shots, though, that’s not an issue; the game is so quirky, fun, and addictive, it’s easy to get sucked in even if you’re not a golf fan. Despite this, I was a little apprehensive about trying out a Hot Shots game on the PSP, not knowing how the formula would translate to a handheld. I should have known to have faith in Clap Hanz and their wonderful series, because since this game came out last week, my PSP has not left my side.
Open Tee 2 is actually the second Hot Shots game on the PSP. The first one came out in 2005, shortly after the PSP launched in the United States. The newest game in the series doesn’t make any serious changes to the formula, but hey, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. What it does do is add just enough content that it still feels like an improvement over not only the last Open Tee, but Out of Bounds as well. This makes Open Tee 2 feel like a real, solid installment in the Hot Shots franchise, not just a spin-off handheld title to tide over gamers until the next real one comes out.
For those familiar with Hot Shots Golf, you’ll be happy to know that the three-click golfing mechanic translates wonderfully onto the PSP. Click once to start the power meter, a second time to determine power, and a third time for accuracy. Aiming and controlling the camera could not be easier; the game even gives you the option to hide your golfer while putting so that he or she doesn’t get in the way of determining the correct path. One aspect missing from the gameplay, though, was the new Advanced Shot mechanic from Out of Bounds, which was one of the biggest additions the series has had since its PS1 days. It seems strange that Clap Hanz would omit it from Open Tee 2, and while I personally didn’t miss it, fans who have come to love the advanced method may be a little disappointed to not be able to use it here.
For that one omission, though, Open Tee 2 fixes Out of Bounds’ two major shortcomings by giving gamers twice as many courses and hundreds of customization options. Yes, you read that right: Open Tee 2, a PSP game, has 12 courses, while its PS3 counterpart only has six. Also, alterations to your character include more than just changing his or her outfit color; you can unlock numerous hair, outfit, and accessory choices throughout the game as you advance, making for seemingly endless combinations, many of which are wacky and hilarious. Even though changing a golfer’s look doesn’t really affect how he or she plays, I still had a lot of fun mixing and matching all of the different outfit choices. Between the number of courses and the character customization, it’s really hard to ever get bored with this game.
As if that wasn’t enough, Open Tee 2 has added online play to the game, making it possible to play in tournaments of up to 16 people. Sadly, the nifty online lobby from Out of Bounds doesn’t make an appearance in this game, but that’s a minor complaint. Online play makes it even harder to put this game down; even if you’ve unlocked every character, course, and item in Open Tee 2, you’ll still be able to go online and show off your skills.
Unfortunately, Hot Shots Golf: Open Tee 2 doesn’t shine quite as brightly in the graphics department as it does everywhere else. It’s not that it’s a bad-looking game; it just falls into the average range. If games like Final Fantasy VII: Crisis Core and God of War: Chains of Olympus have proven anything, it’s that the PSP is capable of producing some really good-looking games. Open Tee 2 does not fall into that category, though. This doesn’t really detract from the gameplay at all, especially since the cartoonish golfers aren’t made to look realistic to begin with, but it’s hard not to notice when you occasionally can’t tell the difference between water and solid ground unless you really zoom in. Perhaps I’m spoiled after playing Out of Bounds on the PS3, but I just expected more in the visual department.
Despite a few setbacks and no huge gameplay advancements, Hot Shots Golf: Open Tee 2 is exactly what a good handheld game should be. It’s good for long sessions at home or short games on the go, but once you start playing, you will not want to stop. It’s the kind of game that has you saying “one more round” over and over again, until you see that it’s way past your bedtime and wonder where the last two hours went. Even if you’re not a golf fan (because believe me, I am not), this is an easy game to get into. Also, for $30, there’s no excuse not to pick this up.