Hot Shots Golf: Fore!

June 20, 2008


One standout title from the lean days of the PSP launch was Hot Shots Open Tee, the portable version of the long-running fantasy golf series from Sony. The title took a casual approach to the sport without skimping on deep, rewarding gameplay. With Open Tee 2, portable players get a sequel to one of the best, early PSP games ever made.
Firing up Open Tee 2 feels an awful lot like starting up the original game a few years back. You’re greeted with a young lady behind a counter, and a bevy of options for both single player, multiplayer, data management, and so on.

On the single-player side, Challenge mode is where gamers will spend most of their time. Included are tournaments and match play games which need to be played in order to earn new game options, outfits, golfers, and basically to unlock everything the game has to offer. Of course, if you don’t want the extra pressure of competition, you can also head out by yourself to any course to better your score. Another solo option lets you play a hole-in-one competition.

The most exciting part of Open Tee 2, however, is the multiplayer. The ad-hoc mode makes a return, letting up to seven duffers tee-off against one another. But even better is the wi-fi infrastructure mode where up to 16 players from around the world can participate in a tournament.

The online mode plays beautifully, and quickly, with every player is teeing off at the same time. Small icons around the hole show you – in realtime – how your competition is doing as you bat your ball around the fairway. The connection itself isn’t perfectly stable, and finding an active game can be a bit of a problem, but when this new mode does work, it’s fantastic.

If you’ve ever played Hot Shots Golf before, you’ll find nothing new here. Open Tee 2 plays almost exactly like the first game. You still have the three-point swing system that can be tweaked by changing the way you strike the ball or by using your limited number of power shots.

Disappointingly, the new swing meter found in the PS3 Hot Shots golf is nowhere to be seen in Open Tee 2. In fact, if the tried and true game play wasn’t so damn good, it would be easy to condemn this sequel for being nothing but the same game all over again. But the fact of the matter is that Hot Shots Open Tee 2 is a fun and relaxing golf game that anyone can pick up and play, and with enough practice, eventually master.

The major issue with the original Open Tee, a feeling of burnout, returns in Open Tee 2. Even with 12 different courses, many new players, and the ability to upgrade different abilities, the game can start to feel like a grind after a while. It’s still fun to pick up and play, but the staying power is in the casual nature of the game, not in any sort of variety.

Just like the gameplay, the visuals for Open Tee 2 aren’t a heck of a lot different than its predecessor. While the courses are new, they have the same general look they did three years ago. The same goes for the new players, who look and animate exactly like their older counterparts.

It would be easy to beat up on Open Tee 2 based on this fact, but because the game looked so darn good back in 2005, it’s hard not to like the visuals this time around, either. The music, though, has to go.

Hot Shots Golf: Open Tee 2 is a tough game to judge. It really feels like a clone of the original game with a mostly-functional online component thrown tacked on. There are a few updates and tweaks, but nothing that really ups the ante in a substantial way. Still, Open Tee was and is a fantastic game, and it’s hard to complain about being able to tee off online with that very same feel.