Hot Shots Golf: Open Tee Review

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Developer: Clap Hanz Publisher: SCEA
Release Date: May 3, 2005 Also On: None

The Hot Shots Golf series hasn’t changed much since it began on the PlayStation. It’s always borderline between over-the-top and simulation, offering deep gameplay with a lighthearted side. Clap Hanz recently put out the fourth edition on the PlayStation 2, and they’ve done a wonderful job porting the gameplay to the Sony PSP. Hot Shots Golf: Open Tee isn’t too much or too little for a nice handheld title; it’s just right.

This game offers only a few single-player options, but both contain a lot of content and replay value. A Stroke Match will let you go out on any course you’ve unlocked and play a quick 18. Challenge Mode, where most of the gameplay is found, offers dozens and dozens of Match Plays, Tournaments, and Character Matches that unlock clothing items, characters, and different equipment. Open Tee’s boasting point is its customization, and going through Challenge Mode is the key to winning items. Of course, better players unlock better items and better challenges as well.

If there’s one thing I love about playing this game, it’s the fact that I can play an entire round in only a few minutes. Unlike Tiger Woods PGA Tour, which can take quite a while, Open Tee allows for quick, handheld-friendly matches. At least my battery won’t die while setting up a chip-in eagle.

Open Tee is like any other Hot Shots game in execution. Out on the course, you hit the ball with a simple three-button meter. The first button starts the meter, the second button sets the power, and the third button sets the accuracy of the shot. Of course, technical skills like sidespin, backspin, and topspin add a little strategy to your shots as always. Power shots are still a part of gameplay for those players who want to get a little more bang out of their shot.

Hot Shots Golf: Open Tee is a beautiful PSP game. It doesn’t look quite as good as a console Tiger Woods game or anything of that sort, but it is gorgeous nonetheless. The lush, wide-open courses littered with all sorts of vegetation and life are accompanied by cutesy character models and goofy clothing items. The swinging animation is slightly cartoony, but it was meant to look that way. The music is nothing to write home about but it sounds alright. If you were sitting ten feet away and heard the music playing, you’d instantly recognize it as something related to golf. It just has that golf sound to it, I guess.

The only problems with Hot Shots lie in its composure. Challenge Mode has a multitude of challenges, but it takes far too long to unlock new courses and characters. Also, like the other Hot Shots games, none of the characters matter when another is unlocked. I never went back to the original characters after I had unlocked new ones simply because they weren’t as good. I would have preferred to have seen a little more balance. A level-up system overrules this slightly, but not enough to erase the problem.

My biggest complaint with the game is the estimated landing zone of your ball. The game shows you an area where your ball should land if you hit a successful shot, but many times I found that my ball simply didn’t get there. There were several times where I should have been able to make it over a pond, but ended up taking an extra stroke and drying off my ball.

Still, with all of these minor flaws, Hot Shots Golf: Open Tee is perfect for on-the-road golf. If you’re a PSP-owning fan of the Hot Shots series, this is one of the most valuable and most replayable games on your shiny black handheld.

Graphics: 9
Sound: 9
Gameplay: 8
Creativity: 7.5
Replay Value/Game Length: 8
Final: 8.7
Written by Cliff Review Guide

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